Happy New Year Sky Talk readers!
It's the beginning of a new year in the aviation world in North Texas and here's a few things we're going to be keeping an eye on during 2014.
-The Wright Amendment. For thirty-five years the restrictions of the Wright Amendment have limited domestic flights at Dallas Love Field. In October, carriers will be able to fly anywhere in the U.S. out of Love. Southwest Airlines, which operates the most gates at the 20-gate airport, will likely alter its flight schedule to include trips to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles instead of flying a dozen times a day to Houston or San Antonio. Delta Air Lines has already announced plans to add four more cities to its operations at Love. But it remains to be seen how much of an impact the lifting of the Wright restrictions will have for North Texas travelers.
-Integration of American Airlines and US Airways. The deal is finally done and now the hard work begins. The two airlines merged in December and will now begin the process of combining two operations into the largest carrier in the world. US Airways is expected to drop out of United Airlines' Star Alliance and join American's Oneworld group in the first quarter. Customers will also be able to earn and burn frequent flier miles on each airline sometime in January. Most of the major technology integration won't likely happen until 2015 but there are still thousands of policies and processes that the airline's new leadership will tackle this year.
-New leadership at DFW Airport. After nineteen years of Jeff Fegan's steady leadership, the airport has a new pilot at its helm. Former Virgin Australia executive Sean Donohue took over the top spot in late October and hasn't made any significant changes yet at the airport. But in 2014, Donohue will be facing renewed competition from Love Field and trying to keep cost over-runs in check on the airport's $2.3 billion terminal renovation project.
-Cell phone calls on a plane? It appears the Federal Aviation Administration is poised to allow fliers to make cell phone calls during flights. Several carriers, including Delta and Southwest, have vocally opposed allowing in-flight cell phone use. But if the government does allow calls, it will be interesting to see which carriers will allow travelers to yak all they want on a plane.
-Airline industry profits. 2012 was a good year for airlines. 2013 was even better. Could 2014 be the best for the airline industry? The International Air Transport Association said it expects global airlines to earn a net profit of $19.7 billion in 2014 on revenues of $743 billion. If this occurs, it will be the largest profit for the airline industry, IATA said. Passenger demand is expanding in the five to six percent range and passengers are paying more in ancillary fees that helps boost revenues.