Low-Cost Airlines Rise in Southeast Asia

Ever been to a night market in Asia? You know, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chiang Mai – where things are cheap and mostly knock-offs of major brands? Locals shop there. Cash on the nail. Now the bulk of airline passengers in Southeast Asia are pursuing cheap knock-off airlines. Low-cost carriers account for more than 50 percent…

Airlines’ Next Generation “Enhancement” Fees

You could argue that the defining business of airlines is to fly you from one airport to another. But we all know the profit comes from ancillary fees. Last year these supplemental fees for extras like checked baggage amounted to $27.1 billion worldwide. Now, reading like a multi-generational novel, comes a new wave of ancillary…

Alitalia on Slippery Ground, Again

Alitalia is once again scrambling to stay airborne. They’ve lost more than one billion dollars since they sidestepped bankruptcy in 2009 when taken private by a consortium of Italian investors and significant capital from Air France-KLM, which owns 25 percent of the carrier. But this time around, Air France-KLM isn’t eager to throw more money…

A Case for the American Airlines/U.S. Airways Merger

The newspaper of bigger-is-better capitalists, The Wall Street Journal, thinks the Department of Justice is wrong and the American Airlines and US Airways merger should get a green light. They make a strong case by pointing a finger at Emirates Airline. Here’s the WSJs strongest hand. U.S.- based airlines can’t compete on international routes against…

No Place Like Bali

What do you do with your miles? I chase OneWorld and Star Alliance to get from North America to Bali via Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines as often as possible. Oh, I know the place has changed. Years ago, I worked on an Indonesian guidebook and briefly taught school in a village outside Ubud, the…

Is Ryanair Getting Soft?

Ryanair. The biggest low-cost airline in Europe is always an inelegant place to start The Tarmac. But readers of this column know I can’t help myself. CEO Michael O’Leary is so often on some ledge, shooting from the mouth and filling airplanes in the aftermath of his theatrics. In the end, maybe proving that whatever…

Regulators Approve Delta’s 49 Percent Stake in Virgin Atlantic

While American and US Airways hold hands and fend off the Department of Justice, Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic kissed up. Of course it’s no merger, just a diet version without the fries. But they outstepped U.S. antitrust laws and are dancing across the Atlantic with coordinated fares and schedules. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of…

British Airways Expands Carry-On-Only Fares

If you travel light (and who doesn’t these days), British Airways is blazing new trails. Last February, they introduced carry-on-only fares out of Gatwick. Starting Sept. 24, the airline expands these fares between Heathrow and nine other destinations: Amsterdam, Stockholm, Barcelona, Paris (Charles de Gaulle and Orly), Rome, Rotterdam, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The new fares…

Thumbs Up for Lufthansa; Thumbs Down For Thai Airways

First the news:  Lufthansa, after teasing Airbus and Boeing for months, yesterday placed an order for 34 Boeing 777-9X and 25 Airbus A350-900 jets. Now history:  The paint on that blackwashed Thai Airways A330-300 that veered off the tarmac at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport dried 12 days ago, but Thailand’s newspapers keep opening the can and…

Switzerland’s Precision Instruments: Trains

I’ve had enough of airports for this week. I’m trading The Tarmac for trains. We’re heading into the Alps, rollercoaster-ing through Switzerland’s heroic scenery. Almost brushing the carriage are the closely clipped vineyards buffering Lake Geneva, the heart of the opulent Swiss Riviera. Lausanne, Montreux and other whistle-stop villages scroll by. I’m riding on what…

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