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Biggest Mistakes For An Airline  
User currently offlineFrontierMan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 413 posts, RR: 0
Posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2881 times:

What were some big blunders that airlines made. I can think of a few, but I know there are more. I can particularly think of PeoplExpress's huge blunders. One being the purchase of a failing Frontier, and another being the purchase of Britt Airways. Britt airways had a huge feed into O'Hare, but PeoplExpress had very little presence there. Can anyone else sugguest think of any.

28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3619 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2711 times:

I'd have to say that American Airlines' attempt at "simplified pricing" (early/mid- '90s?) pretty much blew up in its face when the competitors immediately undercut American and threw the industry into a price war. It was pretty much a disaster.

User currently offlineSlawko From Canada, joined May 1999, 3804 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2690 times:

A big one that I know of was Canadian Airlines purchase of Wardair back in the late 80's. At the time Wardair was strong competition for the major Canadian airlines because of it's great service, but their business plan was not very stable,and by the end of the 80's they were almost finsihed. Apperantly their was an Air Canada person on the inside of CP's management who was leaking information that Air Canada was going to buy out Wardair....CP could not let that heppen because Wardair's routes were very lucrative, and they had a simmilar fleet. So CP went ahead and paid, double or tripple per share for Wardair. This was a very bad move for CP, air canada had no plan to take over Wardair, and because their dept was just too much for them to handle.

Anothr mistake that I personaly think was a very bad move was Air Canada's decision to purchase the A320. It was unfortunate the the people who ran Air Canada within the government took the kick backs and went with the airbus planes......with this came the purchase of the A340 with Air Canada pilots were all strongly against. AC's decision for going with the bigger busses was that they could then cross train the crews and save a lot of money, unfortunatly this never happened, and in the end it worked out to cots Air Canada more to train more pilots on the A330/340 from the 767/747's...

just a thought...

"Clive Beddoe says he favours competition, but his actions do not support that idea." Robert Milton - CEO Air Canada
User currently offlineContinentalEWR From United States of America, joined May 2000, 3762 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2678 times:

I don't think PeoplExpress bought Frontier. I think
it was Continental, under Lorenzo, before acquiring
Frontier, but I could be wrong.

Biggest airline blunders? Well, US Air buying PSA,
Pan Am and TWA selling their Heathrow routes,
TWA's mini-hub in Atlanta, Continental Lite,
British Airways adopting that awful livery, Delta
spending so much money on poor liveries,
PeoplExpress expanding too quickly, Tower Air
flying old planes requiring a lot of maintenance,
American Airlines' reluctance to buy Pan Am's
Pacific routes, Pan Am selling those routes,
Delta's Salt Lake City hub.....


User currently offlineVirginA340 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2646 times:

Pan Am cutting back on security in the mid 1980s which resulted in the bombing of flight 103 (my best friend was killed on the flight ;-( ) Pan Am bought dogs from the local kennal and said that they were bomb sniffing dogs when they weren't; as well as getting a waiver from the FAA to skip hand searches in luggages and their bomb equipment was on the blink which was unable to pick up plastic explosives in the color mode but was able to pick up grenades, knives and guns in black and white mode. The management was to blame as they flew Pan Am into the ground and not doing enough to help the victim's families as they needed info on loved ones on the flight. TWA for being ruled under Carl Ichan and selling the JFK-LHR route to AA. Tower for buying old 747s that should've been scrapped or in a museum long ago. Northwest for pissing too many people off and being called Northworst. BA staff for their racist attitude toward me and my family a few years back and British Airways management 4 not replying to my complaints.

User currently offlineDL Widget Head From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 2106 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2639 times:

TWA selling their LHR slots to American.

User currently offlineBluemeatball From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 184 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2625 times:

I think Pan Am going into a bidding war with Eastern over National in 1980 and having to pay too much for National when they in turn shut down most of National's old routes.

User currently offlineAC_767 From Canada, joined Jun 2000, 32 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2620 times:

CanJet's hub in YYZ (if there going to have one there, they said they will though). There is too much competition with AC in YYZ, CanJet won't do well there. It's a good thing they got a hub in Halifax though, almost no competition with AC there at all.

User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30265 posts, RR: 57
Reply 8, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2611 times:

The biggest mistake that any airline can make is to have it's management managed by people who are not from airlines.

There are all sorts of examples of airlines that are no longer here because their management was taken over by people who could care less if they where running an airline or a department store.

User currently offlineSccutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 6013 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2600 times:

First, PeoplExpress did buy FL, and operate it as a subsidiary; ran 'em into the ground muy pronto. The original Frontier had some darned good service.

Of course, after FL was sacrificed by PE, CO's acquisition included hiring many FL people with seniority, even though there was no obligation to so do.

BN? They should have filed Chpt 11 while still possessing enough cash to resume operations. maybe we'd have a little competition at DFW.

And maybe the biggest comeback-blunder? BN II should have moved its HQ to Kansas City rather than Florida; MCO could have developed into a choice hub, great underutilized facility, centrally located, city gov't that would have bent over backwards to help, and a bunch of locals who don't even know how to be rude. It culda worked.

...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineFrontierMan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 413 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2603 times:

Yes, PeoplExpress bought Frontier in its dying days. PeoplExpress bought Frontier, then Continental bought PeoplExpress, and a whole bunch of other people like New York Air, and Texas International, but I'm sure you know that ContinentalEWR.

User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8526 posts, RR: 11
Reply 11, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2587 times:

Why was Delta's hub at Salt Lake City a mistake? It gave them a strong western operation when they bought out Western, and it seems to be a money-maker (although I've never personally been there to see it). Plus they fly MD-90s in and out of there. It seems to me that Delta buying Western and acquiring their Salt Lake City hub is something like United buying US Airways.

User currently offlineIflewrepublic From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 537 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 2570 times:

I have one major blunder for you...American Airlines. The name says it all. American is a wannabe United. They are almost like the obsessive fan of a rock star. God forbid if United should do something that might make American look small. I got news for you American...you are and always will be smaller than United...Get over it.

Aviation is proof that, given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.
User currently offlineEzra From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 487 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2562 times:

I too would like to know why Delta's hub at SLC could be deemed a "mistake."


User currently offlineTWAneedsHELP From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2563 times:


Your a complete idiot.

Who the hell cares who AA wants to be. What it wants to be is a profitable carrier with as large a market share as possible. If that means competing with UA, so be it.

User currently offlineSeattle ops From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 202 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2565 times:

I think that start-up airlines make a huge mistake when they go into a city dominated by a large carrier. What was that sound I heard on a previous topic?  

User currently offlineSamurai 777 From Canada, joined Jan 2000, 2461 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2551 times:

The Great Canadian Airline Blunder No. 1

As Slawko said earlier, Canadian did indeed screw up by taking over Wardair and assuming its debt. But, not only did CP try foolishly to take Wardair's debt as its own(something that would really come back to haunt it), CP cut short its orders for A320s and kept those aging DC-10s, 737s and F28s, resulting in a pretty old average fleet age and higher maintenance costs. The debt was too much - it ballooned to nearly $4 billion CDN. So CP's restructuring efforts came too little and too late. Believe it or not, even the napkins and silverware had been set up as CP's collateral!

The Great Canadian Airline Blunder No. 2

Greyhound Air, one of those discount carriers was scrapped by Laidlaw, the same company that owns Greyhound Canada after operating for only a year. And business was brisk. Why? Because Laidlaw's shareholders didn't want to be in the airline business! So Laidlaw canceled Kelowna Flightcraft's contract to service the 727s, and hundreds of passengers got stranded. This meant that a discount airline got shot down by a few filthy rich investors who didn't have to worry about AC and CP's high fares at the expense of so many passengers who otherwise cannot afford to fly! The very least that Laidlaw could've done was to sell Greyhound Air to another capable owner. Period. Fortunately, there already was a new and aggressive Calgary-based discount carrier with an expanding 737 fleet in green, black and white colors...

User currently offlineN202PA From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1571 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 2514 times:


You hit the nail on the head. Pan Am was killed by incompetent management, idiots who didn't know their @ss from a hole in the ground, and it showed. It proved impossible to find a successor to the wily Juan Trippe, but what really destroyed the airline was a complete lack of understanding of how the airline business works.

Ed Acker sent Pan Am into its grave by buying National in '82. Spent over a billion dollars trying to integrate two completely different airline cultures, not to mention route structures in an ill-conceived attempt to start up a domestic route network. It would have cost less for PA to do it on its own. That one move sent an already-ailing Pan Am to its deathbed. 103 was the ultimate end.

I know that it probably comes really late, but I'm personally very sorry for your loss...103 was a terrible tragedy that should have never happened, and should have been prevented. It was, and still is, completely inexcusable that it wasn't.

All that can be done now is bringing these thug terrorists to justice. I hope they hang.

User currently offlineFlashmeister From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 2919 posts, RR: 6
Reply 18, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 2495 times:
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I beg to differ that the ex-Western hub SLC is giving Delta a strong west coast presence - they are really playing at least second fiddle to United, and to Alaska and Southwest to an extent.

I personally hate the SLC facility and try to avoid it. Don't get me wrong, I love Delta, but when I fly to PDX (I often go there), I'll go out of my way to fly through CVG or ATL and not SLC.

User currently offlineContinentalEWR From United States of America, joined May 2000, 3762 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 2496 times:

I heard (on this forum among other places) that high taxes and
operating costs are a problem for Delta at SLC. Also, the SLC
does not really give Delta that big a presence in the West. Although
it is not spotty, it is not strong either.

User currently offlineAC183 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 1532 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 2492 times:

Samurai777, I agree, shutting down Greyhound was a mistake, for exactly the reasons you stated. The company succeeded, management failed!

Canadi>n's great mistake was overleveraging itself. Whether it was Wardair, or whatever, CP took on too much debt, pure and simple. After that, a bit of a downturn sealed their fate. Fleet management was another mistake CP made. Why did they sell off those fairly efficient A310's and keep bigger gas-guzzling DC-10's? Sure, they needed the 10's on the pacific, but why didn't they dump them on the atlantic routes? Big mistake. Same thing with getting rid of the 733's and keeping 732's. And they goofed around with their fleet for a lot of years. CPAir bought 747's, 727's back in the 70's. Then sold the 727's. Then bought some more 727's. Then sold the 727's. Then ordered 767's. Then cancelled the 767's trading those for 733's. Then repainted 733's 3X before dumping them. Then dumped 747's. Then merged with PWA, and dumped their 767's. Then bought 763's and A320's. Then bought Wardair for it's fleet. Then bought 744's. Then dumped Wardair's fleet. Then found they couldn't afford more 320 deliveries and deferred them for years... you get the picture... retraining and changing spares stocks cost them a fortune...

Slawko, I really disagree about AC's 320's being a mistake. Look at what they had to choose from 10 years ago, where would they be with 737classics or MD-80's? Anyways, in all departments the 320's were better for AC's routes and operations.

User currently offlineFrontierMan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 413 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 2479 times:

Oh boy, here we go again Seattle Ops. Explain to me why it was such a blunder to go into an airline's hub if you are a start up. If that were true. Explain to me how that's a blunder and why airlines like Valujet, Morris Air, AirTran, Frontier, and JetBlue don't fail right away or weren't successful. I agree that it is far more risky than starting at Hometown USA, but still why didn't these airlines fail like you said SeattleOps.

User currently offlineTWAneedsHELP From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days ago) and read 2467 times:

I agree, far from an airline blunder, when low-fare airlines start in large hub fortresses, its really smart strategic, long-term planning. History paints a vivid picture:

Air South (Columbia, SC)
AccessAir (Des Moine, IO)
Eastwind (Greensboro, NC)
Western Pacific (Colorado Springs, CO)
WinnAir (Long Beach, CA)


Frontier (Denver, CO)
Airtran (Atlanta, GA)
JetBlue (New York, NY)
National (Las Vegas, NV)
SunCountry (actually, a little too early to tell)

As you can see, when small airlines with low cost structures go into large hub fortresses, they have already a large population, some times frustrated with a monopoly airlines lack of 1) low fares 2) good service. Most present major hub markets can support two airlines. Many are now getting them. Weather it be two large ones like DFW, LAX, and ORD or one large one and one small one like ATL, DEN, LAS, two airlines even out competition and give consumers a choice. Population really has a lot to do with it. Of course there have been a few airlines at great airports that haven't survived, Kiwi, Tower, that was mostly due to lack of planning and mismanagement. So on the contrary, I think you will see in the future, most new airlines charging the forts, and setting up shop next to the big guy, providing simplified fare structure, equal frequencies, and standard service.

User currently offlineFlashmeister From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 2919 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days ago) and read 2452 times:
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Don't forget this about WestPac from the earlier post:

When WestPac ops were in COS, for the first couple of years, things were going very well. It's when they decided to massively expand, and ultimately move the operation to Denver (much higher cost and much more competition) that it nose-dived.

WestPac in the early days (under Ed Beauvois, founder of AWA, too) was a big success. But look what they did right at the end:

1. Started playing with fleet types -- They had some real old 727s flying alongside their 737 fleet

2. Started a regional express carrier -- MAX: Mountain Air Express. Ultimately they cancelled mountain service and used the props for Oklahoma City and Wichita service

3. Really screwed around with their hubs -- for a while, they operated dual hubs with significant ops in Denver and in Colorado Springs, which was ridiculous. Then they concentrated solely on Denver.

4. Negotiated a merger with another airline (Frontier) which was already struggling in Denver. The only reason that they didn't pull Frontier down with them is that Frontier had the good sense to drop the merger. Sam Addoms (CEO of Frontier) is one hell of a manager. He's grown that line into something to be proud of.

5. Completely revamped their schedule to all stations - customers in cities like LAX, SFO etc., who were used to WestPac flights to COS (or DEN) had to adjust, and many times, they adjusted right over to United.

6. Sacked management multiple times, leaving a carrier with no consistent leadership

If you look at it, this is what WestPac convinced itself was a good idea:

"Let's take our little airline and it's commuter partner, move from the little airport which we basically own to a big airport with one huge tenant in it. Let's put our airline in front of United and tell it politely to stop. Let's put MAX in front of United Express/Air Wisconsin/Great Lakes and smile. Then we'll have money."

When the acid trip wore off, the line was dead... too bad, too- they were a lot of fun to fly, had great service, and were fun to spot with their flying billboards!!

(Point of interest -- my mother was in the air on the last revenue flight from EWR-DEN (ultimately to PDX via connection) on WestPac the day they announced they were ceasing operations. The F/As informed them that all operations were stopped and that Denver was their final destination, regardless of where they were going. They passed out every morsel of food, every can of soda, and everything else. When they landed, half the staff was gone, the F/As had to help find out what bag claim was there, and they were already covering the WestPac signs at the ticketing counter. She ended up going United DEN-PDX 3 days later.)

User currently offlineVirginA340 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (15 years 8 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 2450 times:

Thank you for your cndolensce. I really loved Pan Am along with my family but we had all known that Ed Acker would fly a great airlines into the grave. I still love it to this day but only when it was in the Trippe era when he had run it. But when Ed Acker took over and messed up I swore I had heard the great Juan T Trippe turning over in his grave as Acker was cutting down on security and had endangered those on PAN AM 103. It was bad enough that Pan Am lost a 747-100 along with alot of people that had died in the 70s in the worst plane crash the world ever saw. But just when the airline thought that things would be better Juan T Trippe dies and Acker takes over and screws things up. other problems than PA 103 occured flight staff weren't as friendly as they used to be and other wemployees didin't care as much any more. So as you can see when Acker took over it spelled a great disaster for the airline. I'm glad PA is back and flying 727 aircraft as well as flying quite a few Jetstream 31s and i do look forward when the airline makes it back to international status. I sure do miss the PA 747s that fly JFK-LHR.

25 N202PA : I believe Plaskett was at the helm on Dec. 21, 1988, but it was Acker's monumental blunder with National that sent Pan Am into its final nosedive. The
26 FrontierMAN : I agree with you Flashmeister. That whole messiah management sunk the airline because there was no stability and too many ideas. The whole Denver thin
27 Post contains images Trintocan : Perhaps the greatest comedy of errors on this side of the world was that concerning Carib Express. In 1994 a consortium of businessmen in association
28 FrontierMan : Could someone explain what was exactly so wrong with the PanAm/National merger?
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