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Friday, May 11, 2007

Quick Takes

Featured Companies: Air Wisconsin, JetBlue, ExcelAire, Embraer, Bombardier/Flybe, Delta, SkyWest

Air Wisconsin Names New Vice President of Employee and Labor Relations
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation (AWAC) named Joel Kuplack as vice president of employee and labor relations. Kuplack is currently vice president of human resources at Comair, Inc. Kuplack began his career at Comair in 1999 as general manager of employee services, subsequently serving as director of inflight services, director of underwing operations and vice president of inflight services. In 2005 he moved into his most recent position where his responsibilities encompass all aspects of human resources and labor relations for the airline. Kuplack holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. He, along with his wife and four children, will be relocating to the Appleton area. Kuplack will assume his new position June 5, 2007.

California Dreamin’
JetBlue (JBLU) is eyeing adding service from L.A., San Diego, Burbank and Ontario, it said at its annual shareholders meeting in New York. All carriers have been pointing to the overly competitive West Coast markets during investor conference calls which already have seen increased service from Horizon and pledges by Alaska (ALK) to do whatever it takes to defend its bread and butter territory. One carrier called the arena completely undisciplined in terms of capacity and pricing. Express Jet’s (XJT) new branded service relies heavily on the California markets, especially Ontario where it is building a huge base. In addition, it is helping Delta (DAL) with its West Coast expansion plans at Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Southwest (LUV) is already well placed in California.

Brazilian Police Place Blame for GOL Crash on American Pilots
After closing the investigation into the midair collision between a GOL 737 and an ExcelAire Embraer Legacy, Federal Police Deputy Renato Sayão placed responsibility with American pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino, despite repeated findings that air traffic control instructions put the jets on a collision course. "The police found the pilots unprepared, without technical knowledge, in addition to the widely reported conversation of the pilots with Cindacta, where they clearly state that they were flying with the TCas turned off, is enough to indict them as guilty of willful misconduct,” explained Association of Relatives and Friends of Gol’s Flight 1907 Victims Attorney Claudio Pimentel. In an interview granted to the O Estado de São Paulo newspaper, published on May 8, the attorney for the American pilots stated that there was a problem with the communication system of the Legacy.

Flybe’s Q400 fleet will increase to 60 airplanes
Bombardier announced that Exeter, England-based Flybe has signed a contract to acquire 15 additional Bombardier Q400 high-speed turboprop airliners. In addition, Flybe has taken options on 15 Q400 aircraft. The value of the firm orders, based on the list price of the Q400 aircraft is approximately $394 million U.S. Flybe became Europe’s largest regional airline on March 5, 2007 when it acquired BA Connect from British Airways. With that acquisition, Flybe will operate 152 routes from 22 airports in the U.K. and 34 in Europe. Flybe is already the operator of the world’s largest Q400 fleet; deliveries of the 15 firm-ordered aircraft, along with those previously ordered, will increase the fleet to 60 aircraft. The transaction increases firm orders to 245. As of January 31, 2007, Bombardier had delivered 143 of these airliners to operators in Africa, the Asia Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Delta Adds Helos to NY Service
Pending approval by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Delta is adding Manhattan-JFK helicopter service via US Helicopter Corporation (USHP)  beginning May 14 and promising eight-minute flight times. Delta customers will have the exclusive access to frequent helicopter flights between New York City’s two midtown and downtown heliports and Gate 11 at JFK terminal three. Passengers will undergo TSA screening at the heliport. US Helicopter will operate 27 daily flights, Monday through Friday, between the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, near Wall Street, the Atlantic Metroport at East 34th Street. Additional service is offered between Manhattan and Bridgeport, Conn. The ticket prices for US Helicopter begin at $159 one way. US Helicopter  is the first scheduled airline helicopter service between Manhattan, JFK and Newark Airports in more than two decades. All flights use state-of-the-art Sikorsky S-76 helicopters configured for eight passengers and staffed with two pilots. The company says its service is designed for business travelers who, as the it says, “you’re too important to wait.”

Embraer Expands Environmental Programs
Embraer (ERJ) increased its recycling program in 2006 by five percent over 2005, reaching 79.6 percent of wood, plastic, styrofoam, paper, cardboard, cooking oil and others. Embrear has turned its commitement to the environment into into a revenue stream totaling US$ 6.6 million (2006), which represents a growth of 57.1 percent over 2005 (US$ 4.2 million). Embraer’s recycling program started in 1998 and, from the beginning, it has invested in raising the awareness of its employees. Since 2000, recycling has advanced from 52.9 percent to the present 79.6 percent, as the program’s efficiency has increased. The remaining 20.4 represents materials which, at this time, are considered non-recyclable.
The energy usage programs of Embraer were recognized by the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (FIESP), which honored the company with two awards in 2006 including the Award for Conservation and Rational Use of Energy and first place (from among 125 participating companies) for the program “Maximizing the Efficiency of Embraer’s Compressed Air System”, at its main plant in São José dos Campos, reducing electrical energy consumption by 456 MWh, for an efficiency gain of 7.2 percent. Similar projects are underway at other company units. Embraer also took third place with the “Natural Gas Air Conditioning System, with Thermal By-Product - Cogeneration”, which substituted OC-4 fuel oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) with natural gas to heat the water for washing dishes and utensils in the restaurant. In 2002, Embraer received ISO 14001 environmental certification
Embraer also supports the social environmental projects of the Department of the Environment of the City of São José dos Campos, like covering the vegetation around the springs feeding into the Paraíba do Sul River, for the purpose of improving the city’s quality of life. The project is carried out by public school students, as well as those from Engineer Juarez Wanderley High School, founded in 2002 by the Embraer Education and Research Institute and includes planting trees along the banks of the rivers, participating in awareness-building activities, such as analyzing water samples, distributing educational materials developed by each participating region, building models illustrating how water is distributed and, presenting the reasons why it is important to conserve water. In all, over 14,000 trees have been planted around 17 public springs, mobilizing over 2,500 students from 18 public schools.

SkyWest Adds New Director
James L. Welch, who recently retired as president and CEO of YRC Worldwide (formerly Yellow Roadway), was named to the SkyWest Inc board of directors effective May 4, 2007. As the CEO for Yellow Transportation, Welch led a $3.6 billion transportation services company with 25,000 employees. He was responsible for directing a large network of 350 service centers with both domestic and international locations and leading a team of 12 direct reports that oversaw sales, operations, finance, human resources and labor. He currently serves as chair of the board, Motor Freight Carriers Association (MFCA) as well as Trucking Management Incorporated (TMI). He is also on the board of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
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