Monday Insight – April 17, 2023

Some Points of Interest To Consider This Week…

China – USA Traffic:
Wake Up & Smell The Potential Cordite

Take this to the bank, or to ‘Vegas: There is no material air passenger demand between the USA and China, anymore.

No, not just a pandemic dip. An almost complete disappearance.

China’s unelected CCP is now a hostile enemy. That does not generate tour groups in either direction.

Some Numbers. In the third quarter of 2018, there was approximately 1. 3 million O&D passengers between the two countries, including connections over Seoul and Tokyo. Fast forward to 3Q 2022, and the number was just under 2,000. Do the math.

Now, the last figure was affected by the recently ended shutdowns of entire cities in China in efforts to subdue the spread of the disease that the CCP itself created for the globe.

But between pre-CCP-Covid and now, the entire underpinning of the market has changed. Tourist traffic is gone, and US-to-China business investment has taken a powder.

Add in the open threat of war on Taiwan, and the successful recent Chinese reconnaissance attack on the US, and it doesn’t take a degree from the Army War college to see the future.

Point: most of the ambient forecasts for USA-China traffic are pure air. Our Airports:China™ estimates for 2023 are in the neighborhood of less than 100,000 passengers.

US carriers: find alternative markets for those A350s and 787s.


Fifth Freedom For Foreign Carriers Can Wait

The guy supposedly running Mexico has decided to put on hold his proposal to allow foreign airlines to fly domestic markets.

Maybe it’s because no foreign airline managed by anybody awake and sober would take him up on his grand offer.

This is the same president who is planning to have the Mexican Army establish a passenger airline. Who knows, it might work. After all, the army hasn’t done real well taking on drug cartels, so this could be an alternative use.

A few years ago, some of this president’s intellectual fellow-travelers in the USA were proposing to let foreign carriers operate domestic US markets, to enhance competition and fill in routes dropped by American carriers.

Yup, that Youngstown-Cincinnati market or Utica/Rome -Dayton route (which some clown consultant actually once proposed) are future goldmines for Lufthansa or maybe Turkish.

The chain of custody from the last drug test was lost, apparently.


This Week’s Aviation Unscripted Video
A Special Vox Deorum
With Safety Expert Captain John Cox

We are excited to announce that this week we will have one of the industry’s foremost safety professionals with us to explore the challenges faced by airlines, airports and aviation in the future.

Captain John Cox, CEO of Safety Operating Systems, and Mike Boyd will be exploring the issues that are coming in the next two years as both safety and security regulations evolve.

The special video will be posted at 11:00 AM ET on Thursday April 20.  Mark your calendar and join us for insight into the future.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, click here to take a look at the industry’s new video source of aviation insight. Bookmark it, and we’ll see you on the 20th.



Russian Airline Fleets: All Dressed Up With No Parts

Aircraft leasing companies are finding themselves with lots of fun in regard to airliners at Russian carriers.

Because of sanctions, they really can’t fly outside of Russia, for fear of getting the airplane re-popped for various reasons. Now, nobody will provide insurance to a Russian airline. That means that they are non-compliant with lease terms, and those lessors want the planes back.

But the Russian carriers aren’t playing ball, and just parking A320s and B737s and B747, etc. as they run out of spare parts.

Upshot: there are approximately 400 such airliners inside Mother Russia, worth approximately $10 billion. Given the status of the war, it’s not outside of possibility that most of these flying machines will rot to the point of being eventually scrapped.

More Upshot: Those leasing companies on the hook will need to make up for these losses. That will affect the rates for all airlines going forward.



Monday Insight – April 10, 2023

Rural Air Service Meets Artificial Intelligence In Pennsylvania.

Politicians Are Promising Legislation To Bring Back An Airline System That No Longer Exists.

It seems two congressmen have submitted separate legislation intended to expand and re-open the Essential Air Service program to more airports.

Both represent a simple panacea for rural air service. Immediate solutions. Brilliant suggestions. Completely unfettered by pesky facts or reality. The data, facts and promises are completely, well, artificial.

According to them, just reforming and widening the essential air service program will immediately establish scheduled flights at dozens of small communities. Not only that, but it will generate millions of new passengers and in the process – get this – be a solution to congestion at major airports.

It promises magic. Like most snake oil schemes.

Integrity City Isn’t A Destination of These Bills.  It’s acceptable for elected officials to take action to assist constituents. But that does not give them license to propose legislation without having any knowledge of the subject matter. That’s clearly the case here. These guys are clueless, and they are feeding inept pablum to their constituents.

It’s a new definition of artificial intelligence. And artificial integrity.

Don’t miss the glowing propaganda put out by Congressman Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, the author of one of the bills. It is political malfeasance due to his irresponsible failure to gain any knowledge of the matter before proposing solutions to a problem he has not bothered to understand. It materially misleads the public.

None of the points that the congressman makes in support of his legislation are consistent with reality… none. Take a look:

“For too long, families in rural areas have been forced to travel several hours and 100+ miles to airports in big cities. These bills will not only expand access to air service to millions of Americans, but they will also serve as the answer to the congestion issues at major airports – all while using existing infrastructure. In the wake of COVID, we’ve all experienced the frustrations of an airport past capacity, and the influx of routes and passengers has clearly stretched the FAA’s capabilities to the limits. By opening up additional opportunities for regional airports to expand, it is my hope we can restore commercial flights in Williamsport and make air travel more convenient and stress-free for all Americans. These bills are a win for travelers in Districts like ours and will benefit the economies of rural communities across the country.”   

It is amazing that so much misinformation can be crammed into one long paragraph. Every point made is completely inaccurate. Not just wrong, but several zip codes from reality. Let’s look:

“Rural families forced to travel several hours and 100+ miles…” That’s it, folks. Flat statement. Everybody. Several hours and 100+ miles.

According to this description, the image of the Clampetts driving into Beverly Hills comes to mind when consumers in rural America drive to access air service.

No alt text provided for this image

Message to congress: Consumers are driving – whatever distance – to another airport because in many cases the community cannot support competitive air access at the local airport.

Plus, that drive to a much larger airport would often be far more “travel time-efficient” than the two or three departures at the local airport that the gloriously-expanded new EAS program would hypothetically support.

“These bills will… expand access to air service to millions of Americans…” There is absolutely no truth in this statement. It dishonestly implies that more EAS largess will immediately establish air service, with the further implication that there are airlines immediately ready to pounce. Fake news, guy.

“(More EAS flights) … will serve as the answer to the congestion at major airports…”  Just where does he think these EAS flights will fly into? Cow pastures? There is a need for intellectual responsibility before filing legislation such as this.

Yessir. The snake oil contention is that flights from unserved rural airports will go directly to where consumers want to go, and therefore reduce passengers and congestion at ORD and IAD and CLT. Waiter, check please.

“… influx of routes and passengers (at large airports) has clearly stretched the FAA’s capabilities to the limits… So, this new EAS fantasy service will avoid big airports, and relieve the ATC system, according to these politicians. Embarrassing.

“… By opening up additional opportunities for regional airports to expand, … we can restore commercial flights (in rural America)…”  The assumption is that EAS funding is a leadpipe cinch to attract airlines and air service, which is apparently assumed to be a unitary modality, kind of like running water, or a sewer system. Where it would fly to isn’t an issue. Just have “commercial flights” and all will be well, by-and-by.

See, the goal is only to restore “scheduled flights” at small communities. It makes no difference where it goes, or if it’s connective, or whether it’s anything consumers in the real world would be able to use.

So, Where Are All The Eager Operators? This fantasy legislation is misleading consumers by implying there are airlines with airplanes and the resources that would be flying these markets, if only there were subsidies. Ignorance.

Message To Rural Communities. Irresponsible, soap-box stunts like this only serve to mislead communities and are essentially political malfeasance by posturing “solutions” that don’t exist. It deters small airports from addressing future change.

The economics of scheduled passenger air service are clear. That means regions need to take honest investigation of their specific future. Excursions into political la-la land only mislead the public.

Artificial Intelligence. Artificial results.

Monday Insight – April 3, 2023

So, Why Are Communities Working So Hard To Bring Back The Past?

The New Realities & Opportunities of The USA
Air Transportation System

In the last two weeks, three communities got air service pink slips. In the same period, several others got net-new service.

In the first case, it was Springfield Illinois, Erie, and La Crosse. United is pulling out of the first two. Delta is saying good-bye to La Crosse.

Meanwhile, RDU, PVD, CAK, ORF, CRW and at least five other airports got notice of new service.

What’s the message here? It’s called evolving aircraft economics. The loss at the first three airports is due entirely – write that down, entirely – to the fact that 50-seat jet costs are exceeding the revenue they can carry, and for a number of communities, the next capacity up – 76 seats – can’t be supported. There will be more in the months ahead.

No, its not due to pilot shortages. And there will be more such pink slips regardless of the number of pilots coming on line.

The expansion at the other airports – and to be clear, in some cases there is some heavy risk-offset gelt in the mix – is that they can support larger airliners.

Yes, a lot of this is impulse leisure traffic, or just ULCC fare-stimulated service. It makes no difference. The hard fact is that small communities are increasingly seeing the effects of plunging small jet economics.

Invest A Couple Minutes For Facts. In just 11 minutes, the latest Aviation Unscripted video takes a hard and very blunt look at the new air transportation models, and tends to unkindly pillory a lot of the efforts to reverse the inevitable and ignore the opportunities of the future.

There is way too much long green wasted on trying to bring back the past, instead of optimizing the economic future for rural and small community airports.

Keep Spending To Find The Solution That’s Not There, Anymore. It’s almost like latter day cargo cults. Heck, we came across one very rural community (say, @ 12,000 passengers, best case) that has been playing consultant roulette for the past three years. Hire one for $40K, and then cancel the deal when the Houdini-like ASD promises don’t come to pass. Then, find another magic peddler for, say, $50K. Oops, after a year of studies and analyses and other voodoo, fire them for not having a network carrier at the gate.

Now, the same community is looking for a third Data Messiah to bring in that air service that can’t be supported from airlines that don’t exist, anyway.

It’s sort of like the ASD version of battered wife syndrome. Keep coming back to get financially clobbered when the hard reality is clear.

in the Unscripted video, we cover the new and different air service applications that are developing, and take a look at the potential – at this point it is just that, potential – new-dimension air logistics applications for rural areas.

If you want some straight talk and clear futurist perspectives on the air transportation modalities, click here to access aviation’s new cutting-edge video source.

And, let us know your thoughts, too.


Monday Insight – April 10, 2023

The System & Aviation – Political Go Along To Get Along.
It Was A Lot More Ugly In The Past.

Just thinkin’

In light of the political involvement and sometimes rancorous discord regarding the Phil Washington nomination, maybe a quick look back can put things in perspective.

In this matter, there were strong opinions. In the past, sometimes the then-regulated airline industry would get tossed into the nasty maw of real political extortion. Thought it might be instructive to look at one such event.

To start, aviation is an industry that is completely subject to regulation.

Regulation means the humans running aviation-related businesses need to be cognizant of the wishes and demands of those in control of oversite and in administering regulations. In the real world, these considerations are often based on the need to get along with politically involved oversight.

This part of the equation is still reality. As long as it doesn’t get anybody tossed into the Big House, the process is one of collaboration with political realities.

Today, it may not be outright extortion, but it does mean that aviation entities must recognize political realities. Nevertheless, what goes on today isn’t corrupt, but it ain’t like a sequel to Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, either. (Google it, if you must.) It’s more a case of Say It Ain’t So, Joe. (And Google that, if you must.) It is rough-and-tumble.

It’s not necessarily a system based on pristine motives and righteous intents. To some degree or another, the ugly bacteria of political self-interest is involved.

It sounds somewhat cynical, but we all know how the system works. There are special interests, and most are honorable. But when it comes to powerful deals, well, let’s not be naive. Arm-twisting is sometimes in play. In the past, however, breaking an economic kneecap or two was probably a potential.

This Is Nothing New. It’s part of what any government system inherently represents. Been that way for thousands of years. Probably, the Dead Sea Scrolls will eventually reveal that the Pharaoh’s brother-in-law got the pay phone concession at the Pyramids on a rigged no-bid deal.

Or something like that.

So let’s recount how it used to be, sometimes. The FAA administrator situation was actually one that represents open discussion, instead of backroom political deals. It was clean.

Aviation Is Historically Vulnerable. The process wasn’t always clean. In ancient times, say, back in the 1960s, there was a situation where a high-level operative of the Nixon campaign casually and quietly approached airline leaders. He supposedly made clear that there would be a lot of exciting new international route authorities under consideration, and all had to be approved and signed by the president. Being a supporter of the president was, well, a nice thing when these decisions were made.

Now, as the discussions apparently outlined, wouldn’t it be expedient to show the airline’s support for the president with a contribution, albeit through channels that might be outside of the realm of the law?  Translation: contribute or your CAB proposal for that Tokyo route will end up in a landfill. Guaranteed.

It’s all  pretty fuzzy in regard to exact details. Close to half a century ago, and most of the players are long gone. We don’t know how many airlines were approached, nor how many saw the wisdom of the suggestion. But from subsequent events, it appeared that both American and Braniff might have gone along with the program. It was the equivalent of political extortion.

All was fine. Money was probably channeled, based on what we know now.

But then a few years later things stared to unravel. The Israeli Air Force bombed Beirut. (Stay with me on this one.)

A couple of Convair 990s were blown to bits. Convair 990s that were previously owned by American. Convair 990s, where the insurance follow-up illuminated strange financial ties that seemed to indicate that some long green got funneled back, like, maybe to the Nixon campaign. Not sure.

Braniff, which back then was one of the most internationally savvy airlines, was also accused of moving money in the direction of Nixon. But Braniff was far more sophisticated than American. The dough theoretically was moved in and out and back again within currencies and accounting of countries where Braniff operated in South America. Real complicated stuff. Maybe moving through Argentine pesos, to Paraguayan guaraní, to ticket sales in Panama, to complex refunds in Peru, maybe miscellaneous charge orders (MCOs) based non-passenger revenues in Columbia, and all sorts of other mechanisms.  Maybe.

When interrogated by the feds, the Braniff financial folks were highly cooperative, volunteering a tour through the byzantine world of airline revenue accounting. How the process of ticket revenues involved things like paid-less-used, population-minus-sample, projected exchange rates, maybe presentations regarding how international ticketing was affected by the Maui Fence and the global fare break point at Denpasar. Then there was the computation of unearned revenue, complying with CAB-standard 2160-01 requirements, establishment of quarterly trial balances adjusting prior estimates, and all sorts of other parochial stuff.

What exactly went down is not clear, but it was likely close to this. Data softballs in all directions.

If they had presented this in fluent Northern Swahili it might have made as much sense to the investigators. The congressional investigators were left clueless. And very frustrated. A comment made to one BN executive: “We know you did it. We just can prove it!”

The feds knew this type of situation quite well, as it was intellectually consistent with a lot of their own activities.

In the end, no convictions. No admitting guilt. Nevertheless, both American and Braniff agreed to take necessary actions to make sure that any untoward financial shenanigans in the future would never take place. No admission of guilt. Just good intentions to cooperate with the feds.

Braniff agreed that it would never – never – provide anyone free things, even down to upgrades to customers without payment, which could represent bribery. (‘Course, any gate agent in Lubbock knew how to get around this stuff, to take care of prime customers.)

American did the same type of changes, among which were assurances that all passenger refunds would be absolutely in compliance with tariff rules, and any that were outside of these would need executive approval and sign-off. So, naturally, AA assigned that function to a first-level supervisor in the depths of the refund department, who every morning spent ten minutes drinking coffee and initialing a few dozen such documents, and then went on with his day.

The point here was that the administration was extorting political contributions. And like the small bar owner in Queens getting squeezed for a twenty every week by guys in dark shirts and white ties, trying to report the situation wouldn’t have seen the light of day. It was “the system.”

These types of political interventions in airline operations may or may not have been widespread. They don’t exist today.

But in the context of this past, the recent brouhaha regarding the FAA administrator was open, free and above-board. The facts were on the table. The facts were discussed.

Regardless of what stand on my have in the matter, the system worked.

Monday Insight: March 27, 2023

United Air Taxi Announcement
A Huge Potential.
But Lots Of Challenges To Get Handled.

The great news is United’s plan to implement eVTOL service from downtown Chicago to O’Hare and between Manhattan and Newark Liberty International starting in just about two years.

The impact of this is not just the concept of making downtown Chicago and New York more attractive as commercial and business locations – a huge point that seems to not be fully appreciated – this now means that the operational questions regarding this modality will finally be fully vetted.

Point: there are issues that need to be tackled before 2025, when United’s consumers will find getting to and from a major airport more like getting on an elevator than being stuck in traffic inside a dingy taxicab.

Hard Questions. Issues that go beyond the flashy news stories that don’t go a centimeter below the surface of the entire eVTOL concept. The clearest ones – albeit not necessarily the easiest to address – are the raw facility issues.

On the metro side, the access and egress to the vertiports will need to be carefully developed. At the ORD and EWR end, the flow of these machines and their passengers are an issue. If the eVTOL terminal facilities are out on some distant hardstand, the time saved getting from mid-town could be eaten up by the hassle to get to and from the main terminal.

But this acceleration of the time line to start service has a more important impact: Clarifying the open questions about the supply chain of motive power – i.e., batteries.

Issue One: As of today, the process of obtaining lithium-ion batteries is completely unacceptable and uncertain.

Issue Two: From social and environmental perspectives, the eVTOL concept is not ready for prime time. The mining of lithium and particularly cobalt is today a system that is dependent far too much on latter-day slave labor.

It seems to be verboten to ask about the alternatives to China-owned mines in Africa, where working conditions would make Sinclair Lewis blush. (Google it, if you must,) But that needs to be addressed in the next 24 months, based on the United timeline.

Issue Three: The issue of battery production. It’s now concentrated in China where an unelected CCP that is America’s enemy controls the flow. Can new supply chains be developed in the next two years?

Then we have the issue of emergency services. The CFR systems now in place have limited ability to address accidents that may occur with battery-powered aircraft.

There have been a number of videos at Aviation Unscripted over the past two years, calling attention to these and other dynamics involving the eVTOL programs.

Beyond sunshine stories, there has been zero – and we mean zero – substantive reporting on these issues.

The good news is that United’s leadership in this new modality will likely get these addressed ASAP.

Monday Insight – March 20, 2023

Frontier Pulls Back – And Not Due To Pilot Shortage

Frontier has announced at least 14 routes will be dropped by the end of May.  A couple of them – PHX-PHL and PHX-MSP – were apparently intended to explore whether a ULCC could nip around the edges of a hub-to-hub network route.

Of note: these reductions are not due to any pilot shortage. The Barry Biffle, CEO noted at a J.P. Morgan conference last week that Frontier actually has a near-term excess of pilots, due to delays in aircraft delivery from Airbus.

The majority of the cuts were in impulse/leisure markets – Florida and Las Vegas.

This may be an indication of a softening of discretionary demand. Standby.


Family Seating Fees.
Another Bit of Irresponsible Consumerist Lore

A number of airlines have implemented seat selection processes to accommodate families to sit together when possible. One airline even allows changing flights if it’s not possible.

The usual suspects in the world of consumer gadfly-ism have for months denounced airlines for family seating fees. Politicians, too. That’s regardless of the truth that there never were such charges.

To be clear, it’s the “choice seat” (or other jive name) fee issue that drove the issue. When there were seats open, often they came with an additional charge. So, sometimes that got translated by politicians and factless consumer-types as a “family charge.”

Caveat reader. These are the same clowns that have dishonestly spread the nonsense that US airlines have narrowed the average width of economy cabin seats over the past five years. It’s not accurate, but it fits the trendy narrative.


Vox Deorum Video Discussion
With Sun Country CEO Is Now On-Line

We’re honored to have had the opportunity to speak with Jude Bricker regarding his airline’s unique market perceptions and strategies.

This is a must-view for airport market planners, to get a clear understanding of where this innovative airline might fit in future air service development outreach.

Invest the 20 minutes and get the full story.

Join us by clicking here.

And watch for additional Vox Deorum postings coming soon!

Monday Insight – March 13, 2023

Before We Start:

Clear your calendar for Wednesday March 16.

Aviation Unscripted is featuring an exciting new Vox Deorum video session.

If you’re interested in how air service is evolving, join us.

And in the meantime, you can click here to take a look at aviation’s most incisive video series.


Some Industry Issues Worth Watching This Week

China-USA Air Traffic. American, Delta, and United seeking more access to China. Don’t misread this as any indication that USA-China O&D is recovering to pre-CCP Covid levels. Before mid-2018, leisure traffic O&D was at over 6 million, roughly 75% of the traffic. Back then, the real demand was choked simply because there are no true connecting hub operations in China, the O&D traffic being very strong.

Today, however, the leisure traffic is gone. The economy of China is in tatters. The enthusiastic crowds of inbound visitors have evaporated, and even business travel to China on the part of USA businesses is down.

On a wider view, the current political situation is very iffy. The unelected thugs running China are clearly planning some military activity in the region.

It may start small, such as taking over Kinmen, which is controlled by Taiwan, and then determining what else they can do. Or, it could be a lightning attack on Taiwan itself, which would not necessarily be as messy as some predict.

That all said, US airlines need to be careful regarding tossing aircraft resources into a hostile country.

Mexico: Not Looking Great As A Destination. This past week, three more Americans visiting Mexico have reportedly disappeared. Adding more clarity to the fact that the Mexican authorities are not in authority, the cartel responsible for the abduction of five US citizens and the murder of two of them have reportedly issued an apology, claiming that is was just a big misunderstanding.

Point: any guess on how many parents really want their kids traveling to Mexico for spring break this year?

This could be what was seen in early 2020 due to Covid. Strong Mexico-US load factors could dive into single digits.

The resorts are indeed world class.

It just seems that there may be a mini-world war outside the hotel gates.

More Barriers For Small Community Air Service. The recent situation in Dubuque, where the airport could not accommodate Avelo 737s due to the need to revise the Airport Security Plan, is a message for other small communities.

Those that have only had 50-seat jet service will need to revise their security programs if they have any chance of keeping network-branded service.

That’s because in the next 12 to 18 months, the floor capacity will be over 60 seats, requiring the appropriate revisions to the security plan. Costs?

Particularly in the rare cases where chances of recruiting some of the limited 76-seaters in operation may be really problematic, doing this on the come line may be a fool’s errand.

The Regional Airline Association: Misinformation & Obsolete Solutions. The RAA has formed a semi-task force, called Rally For Air Service, intending to convince congress to do something – anything – to get more pilots trained. That’s the positive part.

However, the RAA is posturing that with more pilots, most small communities that have lost service at the local airport can get it back. They also contend as a blanket statement that small communities without flights – ostensibly, any flights – at the local airport are cut off from attracting investment.

Both of these contentions are not only off-base, but are completely counter to air transportation realities. With the retirement of small jets, with or without pilots, many small communities won’t be able to gin up enough traffic to support local-airport service.

This means that the RAA is blissfully ignoring the consumer and consumer options. In many cases, the consumer has found at other airports far better options than the 2-3 daily flights that were once at the local airport.

For example, it is unlikely that  an airport like College Station will be able to attract new service to compete with even the 85-90 minute drive to access dozens and dozens of nonstop flights at Austin or Houston. United and Delta are not coming back, regardless of how many new pilots are trained. They no longer have the aircraft appropriate to the market. Incumbent American isn’t going to add O&D flights from there, either. The same with Toledo, where Detroit’s nearly 300 daily flights makes the under-an-hour drive far superior to anything that Express Airport can attract and support.

The RAA means well. But they have the responsibility to recognize air transportation realities, and not propose solutions that are not germane to the entire situation. What they are doing is encouraging small communities to pursue air service for which the fleets are being retired.  Check out our recent Monday Insight covering this reality – one the Regional Airline Association doesn’t mention.

But on a wider economic perspective, it probably will encourage more semi-ethical consultants to descend on  these misled small communities like Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas.

But write this down. There is no “pilot shortage solution” to re-instating air service at many small community local airports, as the RAA is claiming.

It’s a lot more fundamental than that.


Monday Insight – March 6, 2023

The Seat Size Bugaboo Continues
Makes Great Press – But Fake News

A federal appeals court just tossed out a lawsuit from a consumer gadfly organization intending to force the FAA to issue strict guidelines on airline seating.

The plaintiffs contended that airline seating is dangerous and unhealthy. Dangerous because cramped seating will hamper cabin egress in the event of an emergency. Unhealthy, because cramped seating can cause deep vein thrombosis.

The court simply pointed out that the contentions made in the filing were not backed up with any hard data or facts. Seat pitch has changed and it varies across the airline industry. But the seats passengers are sitting in on USA airlines have not shrunk. The average width is greater, actually.

Facts? Not If They Spoil The Narrative. What is amazing is that so much of the reporting on this and other related airline seating issues isn’t even within several zip codes of being factual. In almost all cases, they state that airlines have reduced the seat size – the width – consistently over the past several years.

In the US airline industry, that is a patent lie. Not just inaccurate, but a lie because any simple cursory review of the data would immediately discredit it, which indicates wanton intent to misinform. Take a look at the kind of trendy drivel that some of the media puts out as if Moses just delivered it on his way home from Mt. Sinai.

This chart is completely bogus. Yet most of the media just repeat what the consumerist flower children are telling them. Heck, even Senator Chuck Schumer has held political hoedowns demanding that airlines stop shrinking seat size.

Be nice if the good senator would bother himself with facts. No USA airline has cut average seat width by 2 inches in the past ten years, as is repeatedly being reported. AA hasn’t. United hasn’t. Delta, nope. Alaska, ditto. Southwest, same.

Damn The Facts! Full Speed Fake News! These airlines’ Boeing fleets have seats in the 17.2 – 17.5 inch width range. And it has been this width in the “coach” cabin since the first 707s took off in the late 1950s. In the meantime, fleets of A320-platform airliners, with economy cabin seats in the 18-inch range, and E175s with the same, have entered service – thereby making the average seat size even larger, not smaller. Plus, whole fleets of 50-seat jets, with seats at @17 inches wide, have been retired.

So, here’s the nitty gritty. A lot of the media coverage on this subject is simply bogus. As the chart shows, CNN has published data to show that seats are now something like 16.5 inches wide. A piece from the NBC Today Show claimed 16 inches. Nice. But there isn’t a single USA major airline with any seats that narrow.

Maybe in Asia. Maybe in another world, where a lot of this bogus reporting seems to come from.

Note to the media. If you want hard facts and data to back this up, take the time to look at our Aviation Unscripted video on the subject. Click here.


Monday Insight – February 27, 2023

Two Issues For This Week

FAA Front And Center

On our latest Touch & Go newsletter, we outlined the recent safety events that have been encountered at airports across the USA.

The comeback – accurately – is that flying is safe. Another accurate observation is that in the events noted, there was some “back up” to prevent a disaster. But when that backup is a controller yelling through the radio for an airline stop its takeoff roll, that raises red flags.

This brings up the point we made on the T&G: the FAA must be taken out of the hands of politicians. The politicians who today actually make the selection of the Administrator based on criteria other than the in-depth expertise needed for the future.

Regardless, politicians are not qualified to do so.

That is the real safety issue facing the FAA.

By the way, if you’re not on the list already, drop us a line and we’ll add you to the hundreds of aviation professionals already subscribing the Boyd Group International’s Touch & Go.


Advanced Air Mobility – Beyond The Excitement

A lot of the thinking behind some AAM concepts are missing the total economic impact.

A transportation system that can bring JFK/LGA/EWR ten minutes away from Manhattan is more than just reducing a few taxicabs on the Van Wyck or Grand Central.

It’s a system that could completely regenerate the value and importance of core cities as commercial centers. Just short of Scotty beaming Captain Kirk up from Termina One at JFK.

Time To Answer Hard Questions. But that is conceptual, and up to now has glossed over a whole range of huge barriers to be knocked down.

The location and distribution of airsites.

A very well-developed CFR program that addresses the new dangers of electric propulsion. Fire departments in the region will need new training and new equipment and new procedures. Indeed, lithium-ion fires from cheaply-made Chinese junk electrical bicycles are already an issue in major cities.

Another is the major facility changes at airports. LaGuardia was just completely rebuilt. The question is whether the planning accommodated the concept of AAM. In fairness, probably not, as the plans for the new facility were probably in stone a whole lot earlier. If these AAM aircraft need to be operated at some distant hardstand, the entire reason for their existence – time saving – is out the door.

Reliable & Socially-Responsible Battery Supply. Finally, it’s that battery thing. As yet, there are not secure, socially-acceptable, environmentally-safe programs in place to assure power for all these expected aircraft.

Much of the minerals going into batteries are still coming from near-slave mines, many owned by the criminals running China. A lot of the battery manufacture is also controlled by the CCP – an organization engaging in genocide as we speak and is responsible for the global Covid pandemic. The shock is that even Ford Motor Company is partnering with a Chinese company (which means partnership with an entity related to the human crimes committed by the CCP) – there are, apparently, not global alternatives.

Point: Time to put less time into sunshine news stories, and more into hard answers.

And, if the goal is to start major AAM operations in the next 24 months, time is of the essence.

Answers, please.


Monday Insight – February 20, 2022

Holiday Schedule.

Standby… The Monday Update is posted 21 February due US Presidents holiday.

Regional Air Service Planning:
Arriving At The Gate After The Fleet’s Retired

In the current Aviation Unscripted video, we’re illuminating the one future shortage that’s not much recognixed:

A shortage of economically-viable airliners.  The 50-seat fleets are going fast. The next step – 76-seat airliners – are a category that’s not growing. After that, it’s into the need to support mainline-size airliners, or the small community local airport is out of luck.

Actually, this is a trend that’s been evolving for the last 40 years: the bar for scheduled passenger service has been heading up as raw airline operating costs continue to exceed the revenues that can be captured at many small communities.

Log on and get the bottom line on how air service development programs need to accommodate a whole new this dynamic in air transportation.

It will cover new planning territory for the future of airports across America. The economics of air travel are shifting – air service access will reflect this.