Wednesday, July 16, 2008

As goes US Airways, so goes United, Delta, American and friends...Gravediggers get your shovels

Ordinarily in this space, I would be posting the latest scam or scams that are currently being run by the previously mentioned hotel reservation sites. HOWEVER, there was some breaking news this evening which makes this somewhat trivial, in that while getting taken by a hotel may cost you money, what was announced today by US Airways may cost you and those flying with you your lives.

The reason for this alarm is the following article, which I will post the link for and the Associated Press piece in its entirety:

As for the text:

US Airways pilots: We're pressured to cut fuel By JOAN LOWY and CHRIS KAHN Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON — The pilots union for US Airways said Wednesday the airline is pressuring pilots to use less fuel than they feel is safe in order to save money.

US Airways Captain James Ray, a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association, which represents the airline's 5,200 pilots, said eight senior pilots and the union have filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The union also paid for a full-page ad in Wednesday's USA Today addressed to "our valued passengers." The ad accuses the airline of "a program of intimidation to pressure your captain to reduce fuel loads."

Ray said soaring jet fuel prices have sent all the airlines scrambling to find ways to cut the weight of airliners because the heavier the plane, the more fuel the plane burns. US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., has recently removed movie players, redesigned its meal carts and replaced glassware with plastic to cut weight.

Jet fuel has surpassed labor as the airline industry's greatest expense.
But US Airways recently crossed the line when it ordered eight pilots who requested "an extra 10 to 15 minutes worth of fuel" to attend training sessions, or "check rides," that could put their pilot licenses in jeopardy, Ray said. The pilots were supposed to report for their training sessions Wednesday, he said.

"We feel they're trying to set an example," Ray said. "Captains shouldn't be intimidated into thinking, 'If I say I need this fuel, they may send me for a check ride.' ... Cutting peanuts off the plane, that's one thing. But cutting a captain's fuel level below his comfort, that's another thing."
US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant said the decision to bring in the eight pilots for extra training was not meant to be punitive. "That's totally not true," he said.

During the past few years, the carrier has required its planes to carry enough fuel to pad their flight times by 60 to 90 minutes, Durrant said.

"These eight pilots have routinely been above the 60 to 90 minute range. It just behooves us as a company to talk to these guys, figure out what they're seeing that we're not," Durrant said.
FAA regulations require aircraft to carry enough fuel to reach their destination and an alternate destination, plus 45 minutes worth of fuel, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said. Also, pilots have the final authority on whether their flight should have extra fuel.

Brown said she is unaware of any specific complaints filed by US Airways pilots or their union, but FAA has been monitoring reports of "minimum fuel loads" at some airports.

"We don't see any evidence right now that there are violations of the regulation," Brown said.
US Airways has studied how much fuel its planes really need to carry, Durrant said. "The heavier an aircraft is, the more fuel it burns, and one of the heaviest portions of an aircraft can be fuel," he said.

US Airways is also buying more fuel efficient aircraft and cutting inefficient routes from its network. Still, an average roundtrip flight costs about $299 worth of fuel per passenger, company officials said.
Associated Press writer Chris Kahn reported from Phoenix.

Yes, it is true. This company is more than willing to put people's lives at risk just to save a few bucks. Granted the news for this broke during a telecast of Larry King on CNN, whose program has been known to dabble in the world of the sensational over the past few weeks. But when one hears the voice of the former inspector general of the FAA, Mary Schiavo openly mention that this move by US Airways is not just insane but is deadly because it will put passengers in danger, the radar goes off. One sits and listens. After all, she did not get the nickname of 'Maximum Mary' for nothing...this was one person who made sure the boys who play with the aluminum tube toys played by the rules.

If you are scared by seeing this and had wanted to fly on US Airways, a word of advice. Don't. That's right...don't do it. Anyone or any company that is this stupid, this willing to take steps this reprehensible, this irresponsible in order to cut fuel costs does not need your money. Unless of course they are going to also include a fee for the recovery of bodies after the first accident occurs. The only ones who are sure to really make money off of this will be US Airways and the local funeral directors if let's say a plane 'due to a lack of power resources' ends up ditching a flight from, let's say Charlotte to Los Angeles in a cornfield not too far from Emporia, Kansas because some jackass in Charlotte was told to only feed the jet with 40-50% less fuel.

And if these jerks, these suits get away with the BS, you can bet any amount of money that the other brothers in crime, I mean the airline business will follow suit. As bad as the threat from terrorists is and will be for some time, this is even worse. Executives, well those here on these shores are supposedly the best on the planet and would never, ever in their most demented fantasies want to put passengers and crew at risk to save a few clams. That is, until now.

As a public service, if you have not had or do not have access to the US Airways site, here is their contact information:

US Airways
4000 E. Sky Harbor Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Corporate headquarters location:
111 W. Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ 85281
Phone: 480-693-0800
7 AM - 5 PM Monday - Friday

Rip them a new one...tell them where they can shove their idea to put people at risk.

A note to anyone who works for US Airways who objects to this post: If you have a problem with this, tell it to the Marines or sue me. I triple dog-dare you to do so...I need the publicity.

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