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American plane taxiing down the runway (Photo:  Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)

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American has pulled its fares from Orbitz, barely hours after a Chicago judge denied a request by Orbitz to block American from doing so. The move is effective immediately, but tickets already purchased through Orbitz will remain valid. Changes must be made through American reservations by calling 800-433-7300. There is no indication of how long American will keep its fares from Orbitz.

American is trying to force Orbitz to use American's proprietary distribution system, rather than the industry-standard global distribution system (GDS) model. By cutting out the middle man—GDSs take fares from one entity and deliver them to the other—American hopes to cut costs....read more»

American jet parked at the gate (Photo: iStockPhoto/Hal Bergman)

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A Chicago judge denied Orbitz' request for a preliminary injunction against American, which wants to pull its fares from Orbitz. According to the Associated Press (AP), "The judge's ruling says Orbitz can sue American later to sort out whether it breached its contract with Orbitz." A judge had previously granted a restraining order against American that prevented the airline from pulling its fares, but this ruling takes precedence.

But for now, it appears American is free to remove its fares from Orbitz—which Orbitz indeed contends would be a breach of contract. The issue stems from American's request that Orbitz use the airline's own flight inventory distributor, rather than a third-party distribution program that accesses and disseminates American's fares. Travelport, which owns almost half of Orbitz, also runs two large global distribution systems (GDS). American is trying to force Orbitz to use its own distribution system, which would lower costs for American, but critics say it could have adverse effects on competition....read more»

United New Plane (Photo: United Airlines)

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United announced plans to cut capacity by 1.9 percent in early 2011, the airline's first network adjustment since officially merging with Continental.

According to Bloomberg News, "The carrier will trim first-quarter capacity 1.8 percent at Chicago O’Hare, the second-busiest U.S. airport, 5.6 percent at Denver, 9.9 percent at Phoenix, 6.9 percent at Seattle and 2.8 percent at Los Angeles."...read more»

Air: Security - Man Tying Shoes (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently unveiled a proposal for the security checkpoint of the future, aimed at speeding up the process and reducing the hassle for frequent and low-risk travelers.

The proposed system uses biometric data to identify passengers before they enter the checkpoint. The biometric scan identifies "Known Travelers," who have likely registered with some sort of trusted traveler database, and directs these individuals to a "security tunnel" equipped with metal detectors and other hands-off screening equipment. In theory, these travelers barely have to break stride as they pass through the checkpoint....read more»

American Airlines aircraft front (Photo: American Airlines)

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American, British Airways, and Iberia announced they will expand their codesharing agreement to include hundreds of new destinations. All three airlines will expand the number of routes on which they codeshare, and new codeshare flights go on sale today (most travel begins December 28).

In a release, American said it will "add its (AA*) code to an additional 57 British Airways flights to 16 markets and 4 Iberia flights to 2 markets. British Airways will add its (BA*) code to 42 additional American Airlines flights to 18 markets and 56 Iberia flights to 8 markets. Iberia will add its (IB*) code to 72 American flights in 23 markets and 86 British Airways flights to 24 markets.  In total, it adds up to 317 new codeshare routes....read more»

Photo: Southwest Airlines

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Some mergers, such as the United-Continental deal, are about two large, cumbersome airlines combining into a smaller, more efficient, and highly profitable powerhouse. Southwest, which moved to acquire AirTran this fall, insists its deal aims to accomplish the opposite.

"[Usually] you take Airline A plus Airline B, and one plus one is less than two," CEO Gary Kelly said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "That's not what we're contemplating here with AirTran."

Instead, the AirTran acquisition is all about growth—new routes, new planes and types of planes, new international destinations (Southwest's first), and, yes, new profits....read more»

American Airlines planes wait at their gates (Photo: Index Open)

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It's nearly Christmas, and you know what that means: Time for the airlines to spit in your egg nog.

American Airlines initiated an across-the-board fare hike yesterday, tacking $5 onto flights longer than 500 miles, and $3 onto flights less than 500 miles. USA Today's Roger Yu says most of American's competitors have matched, including Continental, Delta, United, US Airways, Virgin America, Alaska, Frontier and Southwest....read more»

Photo: Southwest Airlines

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Southwest confirmed a few weeks ago that it will add bigger versions of the Boeing 737 to its existing all-737 fleet. Even up to that point, the question was largely when, not if, the airline would make a move to order the larger aircraft.

Yesterday, the carrier re-confirmed the decision, saying it has 20 "firm" orders for the -800, to be delivered beginning in March 2012. Southwest said it switched existing orders for the smaller -700 model; the -800s will feature Boeing's Sky Interior, which offers a quieter cabin, more overhead bin space, and LED reading and ceiling lighting....read more»

Southwest 737 jet approaching runway (Photo: iStockPhoto/Lowell Sannes)

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Southwest announced today it will expand service from Newark International Airport next year, adding flights to Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore, and Denver, with service beginning June 5.

Here's a breakdown of the new routes:

  • Newark to Baltimore: three daily nonstops
  • Newark to Denver: three daily nonstops
  • Newark to Houston: two daily nonstops
  • Newark to Phoenix: two daily nonstops

Southwest already has eight daily nonstop flights planned—six to Chicago (Midway) and two to St. Louis—so the ten new flights bring the total to 18, exactly the number Southwest leased from Continental back in August (well, it leased 36 take-off and landing slots, enough for 18 daily round-trips). So even though Southwest hasn't actually begun flying from Newark, and won't until late March, its full initial schedule is already set....read more»

Air: Security - Man Being Patted Down (Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

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Two professors at the University of California, San Francisco, claim beating the TSA's body scanners is easy. In a lengthy (and science-heavy) report, they conclude that some explosives and small weapons can be concealed in such a way that the scanner, or human screener, does not pick them up.

Basically, if you take the explosive PETN, which was used in the Christmas Day bombing attempt last year, and compress it into a thin sheet, that sheet, placed over the abdomen, could be invisible to the scanner. Or, as the report puts it:...read more»

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