Air Transport World

US Majors. (ATW's World Airline Report).(Statistical Data Included)

Alaska Airlines: In a terrible year, Alaska relatively speaking bad a pretty good year (ATW, 5/02, p.40), starting with its first 737-900 deliveries--five during 2001--and the first use of the airplane operationally by any carrier. It also opened transcon routes to Washington, D.C., and Boston, plus routes to Denver and Cancun. And it actually added employees during the year, ending up with 504 more than at the outset.

In addition, its traffic grew last year, although not profitably, with RPKs rising 2.2% and passenger counts increasing 1%. Revenues, however, were flat as expenses increased, resulting in an operating loss of $69.8 million and a pre-tax loss of $10.1 million--an improvement from the crash-deflated 2000 net loss of $64.3 million. "Fortunately, we've been much less impacted here on the West Coast," Group Chairman and CEO John F. Kelly said of the negative impact of Sept. 11.

Alaska Air Group, which includes Horizon Air, lost $39.5 million in 2001 versus a loss before the cumulative effect of an accounting change of $13.4 million in 2000.

Fighting to return schedules to 100% of pre-Sept. 11 levels by Feb. 10 allowed Alaska Airlines in the 2002 first quarter to post a 2.8% traffic increase and a 1.3-point load factor boost. However, it still ended up with a pre-tax loss of $43.9 million compared to a loss of $33.7 million a year earlier.

Known as a leader in passenger IT investment, Alaska said more than 5 million passengers used its elf-check kiosks in 2001, a new record.

In other developments, Alaska Air Group President William S. Ayer assumed the additional post of CEO of Alaska Airlines, and Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines reached a code-share agreement that became effective Oct. 1. Also, the airline said it will consolidate its 737 and MD-80 heavy maintenance operations in Oakland and focus its Seattle base on daily line maintenance and other planned intermediate maintenance functions.

American: A year that began on an upbeat note with the bold purchase of TWA turned unbelievably tragic for American Airlines, with two hijacked airplanes used in suicide attacks against US cities followed by the disastrous fin failure on an A300-600 that crashed into a New York City suburb. The financial swing for parent AMR Corp. was $2.6 billion, from a profit of $813 million in 2000 to a $1.8 billion net loss last year.

After the terrorist attacks, AMR announced plans to lay off 15,000 American and 3,000 TWA employees. AA had begun retiring excess aircraft early in 2001, cutting 41 even before Sept. 11. During the year it eliminated five types from its fleet--the MD-11, MD-90, DC-10, MD-87 and DC-9. At year end it announced an agreement with Boeing to return its ex-TWA 717s by June. It also retired its last 727 this spring, reducing the number of types in the fleet from 14 to seven in the span of two years.

American's purchase of TWA seemed to produce a smooth integration of the two systems, with the TWA name being retired on Dec. 1 and the reservations system converting from Worldspan to Sabre at midnight on Dec. 2. The fact that most TWA employees got raises moving to the AA system on Jan. 1 probably helped ease the transition. The two pilot groups, however, continue to tangle over seniority issues.

A failure for American was the inability of its oneworid alliance with British Airways to obtain DOT antitrust immunity on terms it could accept. The airlines said, "We made it clear from the start that we would not conclude the deal if the regulatory price was too high. Regrettably this has proved to be the case... Our respective companies remain firmly committed to enhancing our marketing relationship and cooperating in ways allowed for under the existing US-UK aviation agreement."

On the other hand, American snagged a partner in central Europe when it entered into a codeshare agreement with swiss, the new national airline of Switzerland. The deal includes reciprocal frequent-flier programs.

American Eagle: The AMR subsidiary was caught up in the post-Sept. 11 downsizing, with the parent company in October announcing plans to cut 1,700 Eagle employees. An additional cut of 500, including 200 pilots, was announced in February as an aggressive RJ delivery schedule of three per month put the airline up against scope limits in American Airlines' contract with the Allied Pilots Assn. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.