Friday, February 25, 2005

The Rumor Mill

A prominent fixture of any airline is The Rumor Mill. You constantly hear rumors of new cities, new planes, cutbacks, mergers, buyouts, labor problems, etc. The vast majority of it turns out to be untrue; in fact, very few actual events are preceeded by corresponding rumors. When I was an intern at TWA, I heard a rumor that we were about to be bought by Continental Airlines. Two days later, TWA announced it was declaring bankruptcy and the assets were to be purchased by American Airlines.

I think part of the reason that so many rumors circulate is because most airlines do a ton of bidding, negotiating, and general wheeling-and-dealing - of which only a small percentage becomes a bona-fide business deal that gets announced to the world. I've heard rumors that my airline was gonna fly MegaWhackers for Northwest out of MSP, and MiniWhackers for Continental out of IAH. Both of these died, but those "in the know" say there were negotiations taking place at one point.

Right now, the rumor mill is saying that Something Big is in the works. Our VP of Flight Ops, GH, addressed the rumor but declined to deny it:

Other rumors concern third-party contract flying, of which I can only say so much.

The good thing is that it always give me the opportunity to remind everyone of the three segments of our business (native network, AAG development, and third-party contract flying) and the ongoing daily efforts to explore opportunities for growth in each.

Generally, we agree to not disclose the terms of a request for proposal from a potential partner, because it's essential we not tip our hand to the competition when looking at new markets. So, we seldom get to talk about them. Our situation with Frontier is a perfect example. Hard to believe, but it was only about 18 months ago that we started discussions with Frontier. About six weeks later, we announced the deal. Only 100 days later, we started operations in DEN.

A friend was talking to one of the assistant chief pilots a few days ago, and he urged her to send him an updated resume for somebody she's trying to get into the company, because "we may potentially need a ton of pilots on very short notice." Seems to validate the notion that something's going on the scenes; what it is, or whether it'll ever come to fruition, I have no idea.

Would be nice to get a lot of pilots under me, though.


Kris said...

My husband went from being a regional pilot to a charter pilot, to a corporate pilot and is currently a self-employeed contract pilot. I NEVER believe anything he says about the industry until the ink is dry. I've heard too much idle chatter over the years to take anything seriously.

Sam said...

Idle chatter pretty well describes most of what I heard...if there were no rumors going around, we'd have to make some up just to have something to chat about! I'm not taking anything too seriously until "the ink is dry," as you say...but, being as junior as I am, it's nice to think about potentially getting some people under me.