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Airline Division News, Week Ending January 21, 2019

SWA Material Specialist TA Agreement Raises Standards for Workers in the Airline Industry

The Teamsters have reached a tentative agreement with Southwest Airlines on behalf of members who work as material specialists for the commercial carrier. The nearly 300 material specialists at Southwest oversee the company’s technical operation inventory management across the network. 

“I would like to thank the committee for their hard work and dedication to bringing forward this industry-leading tentative agreement to the membership,” said Captain David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division. “Our members are true aviation professionals, and this agreement will recognize them as such.” 

The Southwest material specialists are members of Teamsters Locals 986, 104, 781, 19, 769 and 210. The agreement contains a number of significant improvements in wages and benefits. 

Local 357 President Discusses Assisting Air Traffic Controllers During Government Shutdown 

Teamsters Local 357 President Josh LeBlanc was interviewed by BTC Radio this week concerning the government shutdown and what his Local did to assist air traffic controllers. Captain LeBlanc is an 18-year veteran of Republic Airline. LeBlanc discussed the shutdown’s impact on morale and financial stability for workers and what Local 357 did to assist air traffic controllers in need. The 10-minute interview can be listened to at Radio, produced and published by the Business Travel Coalition is distributed to some 4,000 government officials, 16,000 press and 40,000 industry participants and is hosted on 9 podcast platforms, e.g., iTunes.  

Airline Industry News 

Governmental & Regulatory 

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been appointed chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's Aviation and Space Subcommittee. "We look forward to working with Senate Commerce Committee chairman [Roger] Wicker, Aviation Subcommittee chairman Cruz and the other committee leadership members on issues that will advance the commercial aviation industry for the traveling and shipping public," said Airlines for America in a statement. 

Airlines, Industry and Labor

Nippon Cargo Airlines and Atlas Air have expanded their agreement by adding three NCA-owned 747-400s for its operational agreement with Atlas Air to begin routes in April, July and September of this year. "NCA was selected Atlas Air to operate its entire 747-400F fleet, and we look forward to continuing to provide NCA and its customers with an unmatched service and a platform for future global expansion," said Atlas Air President and CEO William Flynn.

In 2018, Boeing delivered 806 jetliners, surpassing its previous annual delivery high of 763 in 2017. Airbus also made aircraft deliveries in high numbers, reporting 800 jetliners delivered in 2018. 

As the former president, CEO and chairman of American Airlines, Robert Crandall formed an easy friendship with his competitor from Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, who passed away last week. Crandall remembers Kelleher as a savvy businessman who also "had an effervescent sense of humor and liked to take ordinary situations and turn them into fun events if he could." 

United Airlines' fourth-quarter earnings beat analysts' expectations, despite higher-than-expected fuel costs in 2018. In an effort to earn more customers, the airline has been focused on improving its on-time performance, reducing canceled flights and launching 93 new routes last year. 

Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, predicts that commercial electric aircraft will start entering the market over the next 15 years. Industry watchers can also expect increased air-traffic congestion and a more streamlined security and customs experience for passengers. 

Aviation industry observers including journalists and consultants and predictions offer insights about how the industry could change and grow in 2019. 

A CNBC reporter gets behind the controls at the United Airlines Flight Training Center in Denver. The training center features 31 simulators and plans to add nine more in the next 12 to 18 months. 

Building-permit applications show that FedEx has big plans for its hub at Tennessee's Memphis International Airport, which handles more than 450 daily arrivals and departures. FedEx announced in March plans for $1 billion in improvements to be made at the hub from 2019 through 2025.