|Quoting Crownvic (Reply 1):
Like most Major airlines in the U.S., I believe CO is a member of CRAF (Civil Reserve Air Fleet).
Correct. The list of specific aircraft committed to the program is available at: http://www.dot.gov/ost/oet/craf/index.html
in the form of a spreadsheet.
|Quoting Crownvic (Reply 1):
Under CRAF, there is a commitment by all airline members to participate in a certain amount of flying for the U.S. Military. In exchange, airlines use to get "paid for" cargo conversions on their 747 & DC-10 fleets.
Sort of. Here's how it works. Airlines commit specific aircraft to the program, and promise to make those specific aircraft (and sufficent appropriate crews -- 3 crews per a/c, I think) available on a specific amount of notice if the Fleet is "activated" by the Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB in an emergency. There are various "levels" of activation, which call for percentages of the fleet and/or different segments of the fleet to be activated. The fleet is divided into Aeromedical, Short Range International Pax and SRI Cargo, Long Range International Passenger and LRI Cargo, and Domestic pax and cargo.
The Air Mobility Command has no organic (i.e. their own) passenger lift, to speak of. It's usually said that they have none. This isn't entirely true, as they have some VIP aircraft, but they have no real troop lift other than the seats that are available on the freight aircraft. (Ever see the troop cabin in a C-5? It's comfortable and pretty cool, with plenty of pitch.) And it doesn't make sense for the military to have organic lift, because it's cheaper and easier to get it from the private sector.
The aircraft committed to the CRAF Fleet are assigned Mobilization Value Points based upon equivalents of a standard aircraft (I forget which model), and each type of aircraft is assigned an ACL or Allowable Cabin Load. So a 747-400 is worth more points than a 757, and so on. The basic idea is how much troop-carrying capacity each participant contributes to the total pie.
Here's how the airlines make money from the program. In peacetime, there is relatively-little need for the major carriers to provide lift. They don't really like to do it, and the reimbursement rates are based on the average cost to all carriers per seat-mile, plus a small markup, so it's not super-profitable business for them, although it IS
revenue, which is sometimes nice to have at the margins. The reimbursement rate is the same per ACL seat-mile regardless of the size of the aircraft, except that for International, there is a narrowbody rate and a widebody rate. (There is a similar way that MVPs are awarded for cargo aircraft as well, and the rate is based on ton-miles.) The military makes a quarterly adjustment in the rate based upon the price of fuel, so those who do the flying are protected against fluctuations in fuel cost. In the International segment, there is a small amount of work that the military knows in advance (about 15% of the total in a given year, and declining) that it will need. The rest is called "expansion" flying, i.e. expansion of the contract. Carriers like World have much lower costs of providing the service than does, say, American, and there are efficiencies to be gained from having a regular track-charter operation (from stuff like crew staging and transportation, back-office expense to monitor the program, etc.) rather than have everyone do a little bit of the work and incur all the fixed costs of doing so, so if there were a way that American could benefit from having World do the flying, everybody would be happier. The military, wisely, gives them a way to do that, as described below.
Because the majors don't really want to do this flying unless it's really, really needed, the military allows the International participants to contribute their Mobilization Value Points to teams. They don't have to, but most do. This year, there are 3 primary teams: the Alliance Contractor Team, the FedEx team, and the UPS Team. Each team has cargo participants and passenger participants, and the total of MVPs for the team, compared to the overall pie of MVPs, determines that teams "entitlement" for the Fiscal Year (October to October), in terms of a percentage of the total flying. The Fixed (non-expansion) flying is then awarded to the teams in a rough percentage. Expansion flying is awarded on a monthly basis first to the entitled team, then to any other team, then to any qualified carrier; the AMC tries to balance it out so that each team gets its entitled percentage of that month's flying, but if a particular team can't do all the missions to which it is entitled in a given month, tough luck. It all starts again the next month. So, if the Alliance team is entitled to 35% of the expansion flying in a given month, but can't do it all, any flying that it couldn't do doesn't increase its flying the next month.
So those are the rules. The way the majors make money is as follows: the MVPs that they contribute to their "team" entitle the "team" to do a certain amount of flying. Each team has at least one core member that has the right to do all (or as much as it can) of the passenger flying for the team, and a similar cargo member. World is the core pax member of the Alliance team, North American is the core pax member of the UPS team, ATA (and, I think, Omni) is the core pax member of the FedEx team. If the team has passenger entitlements those guys get the call from the AMC. (And they are set up to do the work, the paperwork, etc., and they stage crews and maintenance people and supplies at stations around the world to run an efficient, reliable operation.) In return, the airlines that do the flying pay "commissions" back to the team, which are distributed among the team's members. So, for its commitment of aircraft, American, for example, gets commissions (and makes money) without actually having to do any flying. The flying members are primarily World, Omni, North American, ATA, and, to a much lesser extent, Ryan. Miami Air gets some work as well.
Now, although they don't really like to do the flying, certain majors nevertheless don't totally resist it when they have aircraft and crews available during slower periods. And one thing that the majors truly hate are "activations" by the AMC, because then the charters aren't voluntary and crews have to be kept available to fly on like 24 hours' notice and certain specific aircraft, if activated, have to be on standby. It's compulsory and disruptive, as opposed to the nicer situation of getting to do voluntary charters with available aircraft and crews. The military knows this. So, if it has needs that can't be met by the Usual Suspects, the majors will pitch in voluntarily lest they otherwise be subject to an activation. (In an activation, the core carriers also don't have to pay commissions back to the team, so that is another incentive for the majors to step up and voluntarily pick up the slack when necessary. When I say "voluntarily", I don't mean that they do it for free; I just mean that they do it without being compelled by an activation to do the mission.) So...when you see a CO
aircraft on a long-range international CRAF charter, you can assume that World or Omni or NAA or ATA couldn't do it. Which is, generally speaking, an indication of how busy that they are. (It doesn't mean that World's aircraft won't all be sitting on the ground the following week, but it does mean that at least at that moment in time, they didn't have an available aircraft.)
Domestic military charters are contracted differently, and WN
, at least a few years ago when the stats were published in detail, which they don't seem now to be, had grown from almost nothing to totally dominate the domestic military charter business.
Hope this helps.
[Edited 2006-08-21 08:22:50]