airports

2023 will be profitable for airlines, despite airports “gouging” airlines

Airline trade group IATA – the International Air Transport Association – is hosting a gathering of journalists in Geneva, Switzerland this week and laying out a wide variety of reports, predictions, and challenges.

IATA reports that in 2023, as air travel rebounds from COVID-19 restrictions, the global airline industry expects to post a small net profit of $4.7 billion, with more than 4 billion passengers taking to the skies. That’s a 0.6% net profit margin and the industry’s first profit since 2019.

In 2021 and 2022 airlines lost billions of dollars due to the pandemic.

The 2023 return to profit is a “great achievement considering the scale of the financial and economic damage caused by government-imposed pandemic restrictions,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh. But he warned that many airlines will continue to struggle next year and into the future.

And he lashed out at airports – and their charges to airlines – as adding to the struggle.

“It’s very important that everybody understands just how fragile the recovery is,” said Walsh. “But the margins we are operating with are very small and we cannot tolerate a situation where airports in particular attempt to gouge airlines and their passengers by significant increases in airport charges. Every single cent matters.”

The Airport Industry Responds

As you might imagine, Walsh’s comments about airports don’t sit well with the airport community.

And Luis Felipe de Oliveira, the World Director General of airport trade group Airports Council International (ACI) swiftly responded to Walsh’s comments about airports and airport charges.

“Attacking industry partners does not reflect the collaborative spirit the industry needs for the common goal of providing safe, reliable, and efficient air transport,” said de Oliveira.

“Like airlines and other areas of this ecosystem, airports are businesses too and affected by cost rises in the industry outside of their control. It is a reality we’re all facing—high costs of energy, inflation, and staff shortages.”

de Oliveira noted that airports had a 49% drop in aeronautical revenues during 2020-2021. Costs have gone up, he said, while revenues are not keeping pace.

“It is important to remember that airports are infrastructure-intensive businesses—meaning they have unavoidable high fixed costs. What’s more, significant investment will be needed going forward to meet demand and transition to sustainable energy sources,” said Oliveira. “Airlines have been able to increase their tariffs during the last year, which is different from the airports that need to follow regulatory frameworks.”

In the end, “aviation is one ecosystem,” said Oliveira. “We must focus on the benefits to passengers and communities. And for this, all parts of the ecosystem need to be healthy.”

Hurricane Ian Still Tormenting Travel

Courtesy The Weather Channel

Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane late Wednesday evening, but that doesn’t mean the travel woes that wild weather brings are ended.

Early Thursday morning, FlightAware listed close to 2,000 flight cancellations within, into, or out of the United States. Not surprisingly, the airports with the most canceled flights were in Florida and the southeast.

A handful of airports remain closed for commercial operations

Orlando International Airport (MCO) ceased commercial operations Wednesday morning but remains open to open to accept emergency/aid and relief flights, if necessary. In preparation for Ian’s arrival, airport personnel tied down the jet bridges and covered the ticket counters. The airport’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is in full activation. And, depending on damage assessment, commercial operations are expected to resume Friday, MCO said in a statement.

Here are some of the other airports that closed in advance of Hurricane Ian’s arrival.

Airports open, with delays & cancellations.

Key West International Airport (EYW) plans to reopen at 7am on Thursday, September 29.

Airlines offering alerts and travel waivers

Here are links to the travel alerts and travel waiver offers from many domestic airlines. Many now cover flights to, from, or through airports in cities throughout Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

If you’ve got a flight scheduled, be sure to keep checking back.

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Frontier Airlines

JetBlue

Spirit Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines

Flight display board has info just for you

At Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), one flight display board gives passengers very personalized messages.

It seems sort of sci-fi, but thanks to a technology named Parallel Reality, up to 100 people at a time can look at one of the giant digital screen that usually displays dozens of flights and instead see just their own name and their own flight details.

Delta passengers who opt into the experience do so by scanning their boarding pass once they are through the security checkpoint in Concourse A of DTW’s McNamara Terminal.

Customers enrolled in Delta’s biometric digital identity program simply show their faces to a camera at the kiosk.

Then, motion sensors installed in the terminal ceiling go into action, linking a moving person to their flight data and allowing the ‘magical’ display board to direct the flight info to a specific ‘target.’

Passengers who don’t opt into the Parallel Reality flight information experience will see generic content on the digital screen.

Like we said, sort of sci-fi. But very cool. And a technology we might soon see in use at other airports, or in theme parks, shopping malls, parking garages, and hotels.

(This is a slightly different version of our story that first appeared on The Points Guy site.)

Airports ready for busy July 4th weekend

It’s going to be busy, maybe too busy, at airports across the country this holiday weekend.

But here are some tips and amenities airports are offering that may help.

Let us know what we missed.

Mask mandate off. For now.

On Monday a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s mandate requiring masks to be worn in airports, on airplanes, trains, buses, and on other forms of public transportation.

The ruling is being reviewed. But late Monday, the Transportation Security Administration issued a statement informing the public that:

Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.

TSA’s announcement was followed by messages from airports and airlines saying they too would no longer enforce the mask mandate.

Here are a couple of airport tweets on the subject. Note the tweet from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) where masks are still required.

Airlines were pretty quick to declare that they would no longer be requiring passengers to wear masks on board either.

American Airlines, Alaska Airines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country, United Airlines and most every other airline issued a statement and/or sent out a social media post.

You may – and maybe should – still wear a mask when you travel

While masks may no longer be required when traveling, it may still be a good idea to wear a mask in busy airports and on airplanes and on public transporation to and from the airport.

Coronavirus infections are on the rise in many communities and you, or someone around you, may be immunocompromised and easily susceptible to the current COVID variant, the flu, or whatever else may be going around.

There are also still a lot of unvaccinated people out there. So wearing a mask is an easy way to protect yourself and those around you.

If you decide to no longer wear a mask when traveling, please be respectful of those who continue to wear them.