Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just When The Going Was Good......

The oil crisis has been hitting AA especially hard. Just yesterday they announced a huge reduction in our flying for later this year as well as the accelerated retirement of numerous MD-80 aircraft and even some A-300's that are widely used in the Caribbean.

This will undoubtedly lead to huge furloughs among the employee groups. Just when many of our pilots were beginning to be recalled from furlough, they will probably be getting pink slips before too long.

Despite all the negative publicity about the poor service from the nations airlines, we continue to see full flights this year. I haven't seen a flight with less than a 75% load factor in a long time. It's hard to believe that we're still losing money with loads like this, but apparently the price of a ticket is still way too low to cover the direct operating cost of getting people from point A to point B.

But life goes on and the airline must continue to move the paying public. This weeks flying for me included a trip out to Fresno. It was a Sunday and ATC gave us a nice shortcut directly over Edwards Air Force Base. This is restricted airspace but today we were allowed to pass through it without the fear of an FAA violation.
The dry lake bed next to the base is Rogers Lake and has been used extensively over the years for many test aircraft including the space shuttle.

Next we passed over Mojave airport. Burt Rutan has been based here for many years and he and his company Scaled Composites have produced some of the most exceptional experimental aircraft ever built here. Mojave is also a graveyard for many old airliners. They come here to be scrapped after living out their lives with the airlines. I'm sure our MD-80 we were flying this day didn't appreciate us flying so close to it's eventual cemetery!

The departure from Fresno took us eastbound directly over the Sierra Nevada range. Great views today!
Thats Mono Lake below in the distance.
Further eastbound we passed over Canyonlands National Park in Utah. More great views!So then it was back to DFW and then on to Monterrey, Mexico. Another full flight as usual. The terrain around Monterrey consists of many high jagged peaks and they are usually covered in smog.
This almost always results in us having to complete a full instrument approach to find the airport. But this evening skies were clear enough for us to fly visually to the field.

After a short night there we launched another full flight
back to DFW the next morning.

The view from runway 29 shows some of the surrounding peaks.

In just over an hour we were on the downwind leg at DFW.

The photo shows a view of DFW with Grapevine Lake also pictured.A quick trip through customs and then it was off to another gate and another city. The airline life goes on.

For a look at some more of my photos, please aviate over to Plane & Simple.


Teller said...

Incredible photos, as always, Len! Though, I think Mojave is now called a "Spaceport," not airport, thanks to Scaled and Spaceship 1.

I had no idea you guys were facing potential furloughs AGAIN. I have a lot of friends at other regionals who are updating their resumes in anticipation of the next few months; I hope y'all are spared from the worst of it.

I thought of you the other day when we were swapping out some of the old style Raytheon cabin safety cards for our "new" style (circa 1997) US Airways briefing cards. The lead mechanic in BOS was telling me to keep a card or two, as people pay money for them; those and spare barf bags...

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Teller,

You're right about Mojave. It's officially now Mojave Air & Spaceport. I'm still stuck in the past!

Yeah, AA hasn't announced any furloughs yet but with so many airplanes being retired, there's bound to be more furloughs coming.

Hang on to those briefing cards and anything else you can get a hold of. There's a huge market for airline stuff on e-bay and other places like airline memorabilia shows etc. There's also a guy that has his own website dedicated to selling barfbags from all the worlds airlines. He must be a good guy!


mlesser said...

hey len

good to see another post! hopefully the air industry over there sorts itself out. at the moment here we cant get enough pilots and even im looking at a potential dsah-8 job fairly soon.

although at the moment the trusty 207 keeps my hours ticking over.

take it easy,

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Mike,

That Dash-8 looks like it would be fun to fly! Hope you get the job...