Airline mergers may be off the table, for now, but a major industry reordering is still under way as United, Delta and Northwest Airlines contemplate deep cuts to withstand skyrocketing oil prices and a slowing economy.
Prompting executives to action: fuel costs that have soared by more than 20 percent since January and a heart-stopping drop in airline stocks in the past month after carriers considered, but weren't able to complete, massive mergers.
Jumps in crude oil prices and jet-fuel refinery costs during the past six weeks have thrown airline budgets out of whack across the industry. Even with a spate of fare hikes, such as last week's $50 rate jump, airlines are recapturing only about 60 percent of their higher fuel tab, making additional cuts necessary, analysts said.
In other airline news:
Jetblue will charge more for extra legroom. Reports the AP:
The head of JetBlue Airways Corp. said Tuesday the low-cost carrier expects to boost its noncore revenue by 60 percent this year, in part by charging passengers extra for more legroom.
"What we want ... is the ability to upsell," Chief Executive David Barger said.
Delta is adding another $10 to its fares to offset fuel price increases.
Also, their pilots' union has rejected their arbitration overture. Says the AP:
Delta Air Lines Inc.'s pilots union rejected Wednesday the idea of submitting to arbitration with their counterparts at Northwest Airlines Corp. to break their impasse over integrating seniority lists as part of a possible combination of the carriers.
"In short, there will be no binding arbitration," Lee Moak, head of Delta's pilots union, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Pilot union leaders at Northwest had suggested in a memo to rank-and-file Northwest pilots on Tuesday that arbitration may be a way to break the deadlock. Traditionally, arbitration in these situations is binding.