Main News May 16

Airline investing in the future

Alaska Airlines is to pledge a total of US$1.5m towards job training at Seattle-Tacoma International airport.

This local investment will be made over the next four years in collaboration with the Port of Seattle, with an initial contribution to Port Jobs, a non-profit organization that is committed to preparing workers for the Port of Seattle economy.

In the first year, Alaska’s grant should help Port Jobs expand access to college courses through the Airport University, effectively doubling the number of courses, college credits and students. The grant will also enable Port Jobs to add more advanced courses than are currently offered. Alaska Airlines has been involved with Port Jobs since its inception in 1993 and has several key executives serving on its Board of Directors.

“As one of the largest employers at Sea-Tac airport, we believe it’s important to invest in a strong local workforce for the future of our business, our regional economy and the many families who rely on jobs at the port,” explained Toby Skey, Managing Director of Human Resources and board member at Port Jobs.

The Port of Seattle supports more than 200,000 jobs and generates US$6.8bn on its payroll. Alaska Airlines employs more than 7,000 workers at the company and partner vendors in the Seattle area to a greater extent than any other air carrier. Over the duration of the jobs training grant, Alaska expects to fill 2,000 family wage jobs in the Seattle market, and will be working closely with the Port of Seattle and Port Jobs to prioritize hiring graduates of the program.

Monterey on a roll

Monterey Regional airport has been celebrating its handling operation.

The efforts of the 42 staff, who take care of customer baggage, as well as other services, have culminated in the winning of the Outstanding Baggage Performance of the Entire Year 2013 award from United Airlines. The ground handling crew was the only station in the Western Region to win the award but sadly it comes from an airline that recently announced its plans to end a major route with the airport.

How good is the operation? The airport received 37 complaints about baggage operations in 2012, just 13 last year and has recorded none so far this year.

Baggage handling used to be effected by all the individual airlines, each with its own workers. But in mid-2012, the airport switched to just one company, Envoy Incorporated, to take care of the whole operation.

The crew also won two awards, which they received at the start of the year, for work in 2013. They were the Proppy Award (from Horizon Air) for Excellent Leadership and Performance and the Commitment to Safety award, from American Eagle Airlines.

New venture looks to help GSE acquisition

Sasser Family Holdings has announced the launch of its ground support equipment finance and asset management subsidiary, that of Xced Aviation Services. Xced is positioned to provide single investor equipment financing solutions and life cycle management relevant to all GSE for the North American market.

The new company will be headed up by William R Long, who joined the organization in January 2014 to help establish this particular service offering.

“I am excited about this opportunity. Even this early on, I know that the level of service that Xced will be able to provide the industry is remarkable. Thanks to the expertise of our parent company, and our team, we’re entering the market with the immediate ability to provide tailored solutions to the marketplace,” he stated.

Xced’s services will include lease financing and traditional fixed purchase option financing structures on new and used ground support equipment, as well as a wide range of incremental asset management services, including trade-in of used ground support equipment, purchase and selling services, refurbishment services and refurbishment financing.

Baggage fees on the wane?

It’s official: a recent report has highlighted the fact that airlines are raking in less money from bag fees than they did two years ago. That said, they are actually making up for it by adding charges for extras, which includes securing a favorable seat.

The government has reported that US airlines raised some US$3.35bn from baggage fees in 2013, which was actually down 4% on 2012. That is the biggest decline since fees to check in a bag first appeared, back in 2008.

It’s known that some passengers will try to avoid bag fees through the use of airline credit cards or through earning elite level frequent-flier status. Others simply carry their bag on board in the hope of finding a slot in the overhead storage compartments.

The bag fee statistics were part of the information released by the US Department of Transportation, which added that airlines earned US$7.3bn in the fourth quarter of last year, reversing a loss of US$188m experienced during the same period in 2012.

The airlines also raised US$2.81bn in 2013 from fees for changing a reservation or ticket: this represented a 10% hike compared to the previous year. All that said, fees for checked bags, along with reservation changes and other services, have become a larger share of airline revenue and a principal reason why (some) airlines are now in the black.