Some airlines are eyeing changes in their overall networks to accommodate markets where more cargo will
— Mike Fabey
The Oasis of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world when it debuts in 2009. Above, a rendering of the ship’s amphitheater and rock-climbing wall.
• The 787 Dreamliner. Boeing hopes its much anticipated new plane will live up to its name in 2009, rather
than extend the nightmare year it had in 2008 with its
The Dreamliner was set to have its test flight in 2008,
but as the year ended, the company would say only that
it would make those tests “sometime” in 2009.
A key reason for the delay was the machinist strike
at the manufacturer that lasted nearly two months. But
Boeing also acknowledged that 3% of the aircraft’s fasteners had been installed incorrectly.
Still, the Dreamliner is worth the wait. It’s touted as
one of the most technologically advanced, environmentally friendly and customer-pleasing aircraft on the
American Airlines recently ordered up to 100 of the
new jets, touting the 787’s fuel efficiency and passenger
• SWA in N. Y. How low can prices go at LaGuardia?
That depends on which market Southwest decides to
fly to with the takeoff and landing slots newly acquired
from bankrupt ATA. Southwest isn’t sure where it will
fly to yet, but executives say airport bosses at the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey have given assurances that the gates will be there when the time
Southwest gives equal assurances it will try to expand
on those slots should business there bear fruit.
• Slot auctions. The FAA was slated to start in January
a series of annual slot auctions for airports in the New
York City region to foster competition while relieving
congestion. The agency’s control of those slots and the
FAA’s right to hold the auctions are being challenged
in court by the port authority and airlines, among others. Recently, the court granted a request to stay the slot
auction, pushing it back for the Obama administration
to consider. Slots at all three major New York area airports are up for grabs.
• Merger momentum. The musical chairs of airline
mergers and acquisitions will almost certainly continue
through 2009. While Delta is figuring out how to integrate Northwest, British Airways will try to decide if it
can handle a polygamous marriage to both Iberia and
Qantas or should just settle for the better bride.
Ryanair might finally get a bigger hold of Aer Lingus,
while Alitalia might actually get its act together under
CAI, and with some European partner, and Lufthansa
hunts for more airlines to absorb.
• Greater cargo emphasis. One area that airlines will
try to push harder for additional revenue in 2009 will
be cargo. While that would not affect passengers per se,
the more revenue they can get from carrying goods, the
less pressure they will feel to boost costs in other areas.
For some airlines, in certain routes, cargo revenue is the
difference between flying in the black or descending
into the red.
• Bank ownership of Amex. American Express
won approval in November to become a bank holding company and was given three months to make the
The new status will not change the corporate structure but will give the company access to federal bailout
money that is earmarked for banks.
Amex spokesmen say the new status would not affect
the travel agency operations, but at this writing it remains unclear if the U.S. Treasury, if it approved a loan
to Amex, would include loan terms meant to ensure
that taxpayer funds are applied to banking operations,
not to the travel business.
• IATA’s nonair accreditation. Several nonair suppliers are talking with IATA about having the airline trade
group manage agent accreditation programs for them,
meaning programs designed to help those suppliers
identify and track top producers or other unique subsets of the travel agent universe. IATA expects at least
one program to launch sometime in 2009.
While IATA does not yet handle customized retail
agent accreditation based on specs provided by individual suppliers, it does manages Marriott’s accreditation
for meetings planners.
• YTB’s franchise program. YTB International is
planning to offer its existing affiliates and new prospects the option of buying into a YTB franchise program. The earliest rollout date is the group’s national
convention in July, but the economy is a “big question”
for its planners.
— Nadine Godwin
The 787 drew crowds in 2007 when the plane was unveiled in Everett, Wash. The aircraft has been plagued by delays, but test flights are scheduled for 2009.