Monday Insight – May 29, 2023

Monday Insight will be published next on June 5, in observance of the USA Memorial Day Holiday


The FAA – It’s In Free Fall.
But, Don’t Dare Call It

It was reported that the FAA on Sunday morning issued a ground stop at Denver International Airport and surrounding airports, due to “staffing issues” for over an hour.

Not a lot of further information. Interestingly, unlike several other recent FAA ground stops at airports across the nation, this one was not immediately attributed to weather.

Depending on additional clarification, this appears to be one more obvious warning sign of a collapsing FAA. The problem is that the agency has been turned into a disgusting political football.

Yup, we’re not supposed to say it, but the recent fiasco with the proposed new administrator was clear proof that the FAA has become a case study in Third World amateurism. The political elite chose a guy who really had no relevant experience, marched him into congressional hearings with bugles blowing, flags flying and hype flowing.

It was the equivalent of political human sacrifice. They had to know that this was essentially the C-Span version of tossing him into the back seat of the ’35 Ford at the end of Bonnie & Clyde.

The hearing – and the entire appointment process – was a raging embarrassment at all levels.

There is nothing on the horizon that lends any confidence to the air travel consumer. Now the acting FAA administrator is taking a powder. Staffing-related flight restrictions will continue. The lack of hard, focused direction will continue. And there’s no indication this will change.

Anybody see a leadership problem here? Or any leadership at all?

At any level and in any sector?


Frontier Suggests A Return to The 1970s.
Positively For All Concerned.

It’s a major weakness in the day-of-week ULCC scheduling format.

Like, when that flight from SAN gets cancelled, the next one is two days away. Oh, yeah. And it’s fully booked. Passengers are left singing the blues. They need to buy a ticket on another airline or enjoy the venue until the ULCC can book them out.

No other options.

In ancient times – like until 40 years ago – airline tariffs had what was originally called “Rule 75” – later renumbered as Rule 240. Simply stated, airlines would accept each other’s tickets in the event of a schedule irregularity.

It worked well. The cancelling airline got the passenger out of town, the accepting carrier got another passenger. Really well, in that the accepting carrier could bill the ticket back to the referring airline for some very healthy gelt. It wasn’t free.

It all went by the board over time, with major airlines not willing to bail out their ULCC competitors.

Last week, Barry Biffle, CEO of Frontier, proposed bringing some mechanism like Rule 240 back.

We can be sure that network carriers will have an out-of-body over the proposal, but if properly structured it could be a win-win for all concerned.

In any event, it’s a suggestion that should be dispassionately considered.