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Airline Troubles

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Staying on the theme started on last week's blog, we'll visit today about the serious situation some of the airlines are experiencing......all because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. One writer said because of that situation, especially considering the upcoming busiest time of the year, that the airlines are looking at “scarce planes and booming demand”.

Southwest Airlines has parked 34 of their jetliners and American Airlines has done the same with 24 of theirs. United is removing 14 of theirs until early July. Southwest decision will lead to 160 cancellations a day; American counts 115 daily cancellations throughout most of the summer. That not only impacts their bottom line, but also cramps a lot of flying style for the traveling public. Speaking of bottom line, it was reported that Southwest has estimated $150 million in lost revenue in just between Feb. 20 and March 31.

The problem has been identified with the software that controls the plane as they take off, so Boeing is under a lot of pressure and scrutiny to get those details corrected. Of course, upcoming is the busiest time of the year for air travel where the airlines earn the most revenue per available seat mile, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

For you and me, the consumer, what does that mean. Well, we can guess that the fares are going to increase. If you've already purchased your summer tickets, you are smart. Last minute purchases will no doubt escalate.

Delta Airlines has apparently escaped the situation because they have fewer 737 equipment. United has been able to avoid a lot of cancellations because they are servicing the 737 MAX routes with larger 777 or 787 aircraft, but that is not a sustainable option......a money-losing option for sure, and it will be harder to do that during the peak summer months. You can be sure that Delta is feeling pretty confident about their summer!!

What else can be done? They are adding flights to other aircrafts daily schedule; they can defer some non-essential maintenance work. It was reported that some airlines are considering extending aircraft leases and bringing back some spare planes that they had put on idle.

Another real problem is that nobody knows for sure how long this will last.....when will Boeing be satisfied that their re-worked software is going to be effective over the long haul. Some predicted that the problem should be solved in 90 days, but even if so, that will still make 2019 for the majority of airlines a losing season. And just think what it is doing to Boeing's bottom line and public perception.

So, Mr Consumer, what are you going to do? Drive or Walk? My prediction is that most of us will carry on, and hope that the powers that be will take care of our traveling situations. Yes, there will be delays and people upset because of the interruption, but as I mentioned last week, it is still the best way to cover that 1,200 miles in the shortest length of time, so just relax and go with the flow.

Just know, it'll get better. The airlines have a responsibility to the traveling public to put a safe face on airline travel, and after all, they are in the business of making money.

As always, the experienced travel advisors at The Travel Factory are available to help you with your vacation travel, so call us at 698-1421 or drop in for a face-to-face visit at 4150 Southwest Drive.

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