More signs of trouble in the airline industry were reported this week by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Frontier Airlines will cut nearly 500 Milwaukee employees - nearly half of them flight crew members based at Mitchell International Airport - as a result of a major service reduction here.Cutting flights are they? There is only one reason why they would do that...air travel is on the wane and they can no longer make money with the high price of aviation fuel. The past half-century or so of routine middle class air travel is quickly drawing to a close. In not too many years, it will be exclusively the privilege of the wealthy...before that inevitable day when it becomes just another forlorn and rapidly fading memory from the all-to-brief age of petroleum.
Those job cuts will occur in April, according to information Frontier filed Monday with the state Department of Workforce Development under the state's layoff notice law.
Frontier said 446 employees will be affected by the cuts, to occur between April 15 and April 30. About 230 employees are flight crew members who will be reassigned to bases outside Milwaukee, the company said in its filing.
Denver-based Frontier has about 1,000 employees based in Milwaukee.
Many of the flight crews don't live in the Milwaukee area, commuting here via flights from around the country. But other employees - including maintenance workers, gate agents and baggage handlers - live in southeastern Wisconsin.
The news comes just four days after Frontier announced it will eliminate five nonstop routes from Milwaukee. Those cuts will reduce daily departures out of Mitchell International from 32 to 18.
Effective April 16, the company will suspend nonstop flights from Milwaukee to Dallas/Fort Worth, Grand Rapids, Mich., Kansas City, Mo., Philadelphia and Phoenix. In addition, Milwaukee-to-Newark, N.J., service will be suspended effective April 1.
Addendum: After I wrote the initial post, I came across this article from Reuters, which pretty well spells out what is happening in the airline industry:
U.S. airlines in 2011 operated the fewest number of flights since the hijack attacks on New York and Washington depressed air travel and accelerated the industry's worst-ever financial downturn, government figures on Tuesday showed.So tell me some more about that alleged economic recovery we are now experiencing. I love fairy tales.
The Transportation Department said major airlines, their chief low-cost competitors and the biggest regional carriers, recorded 6.08 million departures last year. Takeoffs were not that low since 2002, when they totaled 5.27 million.
Reduced operations and good summer weather, especially in the East, helped airlines post a 79 percent on-time rating in 2011, unchanged from the previous two years.
The overall number of flights by U.S. airlines have steadily declined since 2008 when the recession dampened travel demand. Most recently, stubbornly high fuel prices have prompted airlines to further cut capacity to reduce costs and maintain higher fares.
Bonus: No disrespect to Peter, Paul and Mary, but a lot of people don't realize it was actually John Denver who wrote this song