Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boeing Slows C-17 Production

LONG BEACH - Boeing is cutting back production of its C-17 Globemaster from 15 to 10 jets annually in an effort to extend the Long Beach assembly plant's life beyond 2012.

The move is likely to result in future layoffs among the plant's 5,000-strong workforce, but how many and when will not be decided until later this year or early 2011, said Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling.

Workers had been warned in recent months that job losses were possible because of reduced domestic demand for the massive cargo plane, Drelling added.

"We're still completing the analysis of any reduction in workforce, and we're striving to mitigate the impacts on our employees as much as possible," Drelling said. "But it's something that needs to be done given reduced demand domestically and to ensure the aircraft remains affordable in years to come."

The scaling back of production, expected to begin in mid-2011, comes as Boeing aggressively pursues international orders from customers that include India and possibly Saudi Arabia.

India submitted a formal request in January with the Department of Defense to negotiate the purchase of 10 C-17s, but those jets would not likely get built until 2013, forcing Boeing to scale back production to keep the plant operating long enough to secure foreign orders.

"This move allows us to reduce the annual production rate and lay the foundation to extend the line beyond 2012 with new and existing orders, preserving the C-17 as an affordable option for the future requirements of international and domestic customers," Drelling said.

Boeing has built 194 C-17s since production began in the early 1990s, and has 38 jets on order, including 29 for the U.S. Air Force, six for the United Arab Emirates, two for Qatar and one for the United Kingdom.

Qatar, which has purchased three C-17s so far, retains the option for two more and is expected to sign a deal in coming months.

Saudi Arabia has also reportedly expressed interest in purchasing several C-17s in coming years, but formal talks have not begun.

Boeing's announcement comes nearly a month after President Barack Obama requested in his proposed 2011 defense budget that domestic funding for the C-17 end, saying the 223 in service and on order are enough for the nation's needs.

President Obama had also sought to end support for the plane last year, but was overridden by the Senate and House, who included $2.5 billion for 10 more C-17s in the final defense budget. Those planes will be built in 2011 and 2012.

Still, given the mood in Washington and President Obama's insistence that funding must end for "unnecessary" military equipment, Boeing has focused increasingly on foreign orders.

To date, the aerospace giant has sold C-17s to Canada, United Kingdom, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and a NATO-led peacekeeping force based in Hungary.

Most of those nations have used the plane for humanitarian missions, including after the recent earthquake in Haiti, where dozens of C-17s from across the globe were called in to deliver tons of medical supplies, food, water, personnel and other relief aid to the devastated island nation.

The plane is favored because of its enormous payload and ability to land on short, unpaved runways.

Just hours before Boeing's announcement Tuesday, Long Beach Councilman Robert Garcia met with Congressmembers in Washington to gauge support for the C-17 as part of a diplomatic mission to the nation's capitol.

"We spent a considerable amount of time talking about the C-17, and my sense is that there remains strong support for keeping the plant open," Garcia said. "(Congress) understand how important this is to Long Beach and to the country. It's a critical asset."

Garcia was joined in Washington by Third District Councilman Gary DeLong and Long Beach Government Affairs Director Tom Modica.

"Ensuring the continuation of the C-17 plant and keeping those 5,000 jobs in Long Beach is my top priority right now," Garcia said. "It's on the top of most of our lists."

Drelling said the production cutback should be sufficient to sustain the line well into 2013. He said the plan is to build 15 jets this year, 13 in 2011 and 10 in 2012.

"We feel it will both buy us more time and help up maintain an affordable price for future orders, as well as giving the (Department of Defense) more time to consider their future airlift needs," Drelling said.

(Kristopher Hanason - Press Telegram)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Late C-17 Spotting Report

The second Qatar Air Force C-17 08-0201/MAA (c/n F-208) arrived on February 17th at 12:45pm and parked on the Signature ramp. The plane was moved to the north Boeing blast wall in the late afternoon and has been parked there since.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday 2-17-10

A US Marines Lockheed C-130 Hercules departed from Signature at 7:10pm and landed back at LGB at 8:00pm. The plane parked again at Signature.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

JetBlue's 10th Anniversary A320 visits LGB

JetBlue Airways A320-232 N569JB (c/n 2075) "Blues Brothers" arrived as JBU285 from McCarran Intl (KLAS) at 7:05pm and departed back to McCarran Intl (KLAS) as JBU288 at 8:09pm. The photos above were taken with my cell phone which explains the poor quality.

Monday 2-15-10

Qatar Air Force C-17 Globemaster III 08-0201/MAA (c/n F-208) arrived at Long Beach at 12:45pm and parked on the Signature ramp. The plane has since been moved to the Boeing run-up area where the old commerical production line predelivery use to be.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

JetBlue marks 10th anniversary

LONG BEACH - What began 10 years ago as a modest venture into the rough-and-tumble world of air travel has morphed into one of the city's top success stories of the past decade.

JetBlue Airways marked 10 years of international travel Friday with a celebration at Long Beach Airport, its West Coast base, where the carrier served some 2.3 million passengers in the past year.

Since its first flight out of Long Beach in August of 2001, about a year after the New York-based carrier's launch, JetBlue has carried more than 14 million people into and out of the city to and from destinations across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

"JetBlue has been a great partner with the community...employing about 700 people locally and becoming an important asset for this city," said Mayor Bob Foster, who joined city leaders, JetBlue and airport executives and airline workers for the milestone birthday. "JetBlue has woven into the community."

JetBlue's presence has coincided with tremendous growth at the airport, which for decades languished behind other regional airports like Los Angeles and John Wayne internationals, despite its regional proximity and available space.

Since 2001, when JetBlue arrived, passenger flights have jumped 390 percent in Long Beach, from 591,000 passengers to 2.9 million in 2009.

And much of that increase is directly attributable to the low-cost carrier, whose passengers have consistently constituted about 75 percent of total traffic at the airport.

Other carriers include Alaska, Horizon, Delta and U.S. Airways.

"Long Beach Airport would not be what it is today without JetBlue," said Mario Rodriguez, Long Beach Airport Director. "The airline has brought a lot of people to Long Beach that might not otherwise have visited."

Rodriguez also believes the carrier's presence has had a moderating influence regionally on passenger flight costs in recent years.

With 29 daily flights to 13 destinations, including New York City, Washington D.C., Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco, JetBlue and Long Beach have become major competitors to some of the region's larger and more established carriers and airports.

"They've pretty well set the bar for low-cost carriers and passenger service," Rodriguez said.

In fact, JetBlue was founded in the late 1990s by former employees of Southwest Airlines, which like JetBlue offers low-cost, no-frills flights to major urban centers across the country.

With an initial fleet of just 10 jets, JetBlue now operates 151 aircraft, profoundly impacting the 74-year-old Long Beach Airport's buildings, parking lots, rampways, runways and hangars.

In late 2009, officials broke ground on a $49-million, five-level, 1,989-slot parking garage just steps from the main terminal.

They're also pushing tens of millions into terminal improvements, airport security and other infrastructure to handle growing passenger loads.

"Long Beach was a great choice for us because of its location, low cost and room for growth...and passengers tend to enjoy it because its less crowded and easy to access," said Robert Land, a JetBlue spokesman. "It's been a solid relationship."

(Kristopher Hanson - Press Telegram)

JetBlue CEO David Barger reflects on 10 years

LONG BEACH - To celebrate JetBlue Airways Corp.'s 10th anniversary Thursday, President and CEO David Barger wanted to visit crewmembers and business partners within its network cities.

But a severe East Coast snowstorm Wednesday would dampen the celebration for Barger, who ended up staying in New York Thursday to deal with the weather's effect on flights to and from area airports, including John F. Kennedy International.

"I wanted to be in Boston, wanted to come out to Long Beach and because of the snowstorm I didn't get to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale," said Barger, who was at Long Beach Airport on Friday to celebrate the anniversary with city and airport officials.

It's fitting, really, that a snowstorm would mark the milestone of a company whose first flight - which carried dignitaries from Buffalo, N.Y., - happened during an ice storm.

"If there's a message to other entrepreneurs, don't start an airline in Buffalo in February, because the weather can be kind of tough," he joked. "We were a little bit delayed. ... But I think people realized that, 'Hey listen, this is really special,' and that's what we've seen from day one and we've seen it over the last 10 years."

Barger, 52, has seen the New York-based company wing through its ups and downs - from its rapid rise in 2000 as an innovative air carrier vowing to bring humanity back to air flight to rising fuel prices, an uncertain economy and a 2007 snowstorm that stranded hundreds of passengers at JFK, an event that prompted a company wake-up call and the appointment of Barger as CEO.

Ten years later, Barger - whose 32 years of experience in the airline industry have included New York Air and Continental Airlines - reflected on JetBlue's growth, where the company sees itself in the next decade and its future as the largest commercial customer at Long Beach Airport, JetBlue's West Coast hub.

'Visionary' leader

Barger - whose passion for airlines came from his father, a United Air pilot for 37 years - was part of the team that founded the company 12 years ago with founder David Neeleman, whom Barger called a "visionary."

JetBlue quickly made its impact on the airline industry, offering passengers affordable fares, leather seating and dozens of cable channels.

"We wanted to enhance the comfort for our customers," said Barger, adding that the company over the years removed 12 seats from its airplanes to provide more legroom. "I think you can be profitable without gouging the traveling public."

In August 2001, JetBlue launched its second focus city in Long Beach with two daily flights to JFK, which occurred because of Neeleman's familiarity with the LA Basin, Barger said.

"Long Beach fell into that same kind of camp in terms of great airport, under-utilized, big population catchment and we thought, `hey, this should work,"' he said.

Meanwhile, Barger took over as CEO in 2007 during a controversial time for the company, which had been criticized for stranding passengers on planes snowbound at gates or stuck on runways on Valentine's Day.

The event changed the company and led to the investment in technology and leadership.

"It was tough to look in the mirror February 2007," he said. "We dropped the ball that day, really for that week, but we're a much stronger company as a result of it."

JetBlue, like many companies in the airline industry, faced several challenges in the last decade, from the Sept. 11 attacks to rising fuel prices and an unstable economy.

Barger said JetBlue has managed to weather them by slowing the company's growth. For example, last year JetBlue took delivery of nine airplanes instead of the 36 originally planned.

"We're still a growth story, but I think we just wanted to catch up with some of the growth that we had in the first several years of the company," he said.

This approach has allowed JetBlue to be profit for four straight quarters and deliver positive free cash flow at the end of the year, a first for the company.

"So many airlines think you can hit the reset button - bankruptcy, furlough your staff, pay cuts. We haven't done any of that in 10 years."

Pleased with changes

During his 45-minute visit with the Press-Telegram, Barger addressed some Long Beach issues, including comments he made last year to an industry blogger about JetBlue possibly leaving Long Beach because of terminal improvement delays. The comments sparked concerns among city officials and the community.

Barger preferred to be "forward-looking," especially now that long-awaited improvements to the airport's parking structure and gate hold area are being made.

"The ground experience - it's very important, we believe, to match the air experience," he said "We needed to see investment and we're very pleased that it's taking place."

He also addressed the city's airport noise ordinance, which restricts the number of flights and fines airlines for taking off or landing between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Barger said over 90 percent of the delays into Long Beach have been driven by East Coast air traffic controllers because of weather.

"Time performers is important to this company and our home on the East Coast has the most congested airspace," he said.

To offset that, JetBlue has built more of a buffer between the last scheduled flight and the curfew hour.

Asked about growing in Long Beach, Barger said he will leave that up to residents.

"I think we could. ... Are we going to try to push that and make that happen? No," he said. "We're going to live within history and the ordinance that's been put into place. That's what good citizens do."

(Karen Robes Meeks - Press Telegram)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

JetBlue Celebrates 10 Years With Two New Tail Designs

Today JetBlue is celebrating 10 years of being in business and has introduces two new tail designs. The top two phtoos are the 10 year anniversary tail design which is on A320-232 N569JB. The second tail design is called "Building Blocks" and was created by JetBlue LGB crewmember Troy Bokosky and will be put on an aircraft later this year. More than 30,000 votes were tallied and this was the winning tail design. JetBlue will have celebrations and contests throughtout the year not only for their crewmembers but also for the JetBlue customers.

Horizon to pull LGB-PDX

Horizon Airlines announced on their employee site that they will discontinue LGB-PDX as of April 20th. The two CRJ-700s that are being freed up will be used to add an addition flight on PDX-BUR and PDX-ONT. No word right now if they will be adding a third SEA-LGB flight for the summer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

After The Rain

Well we had another rain storm move through SoCal today which let up late this afternoon and brought out the sun. I thought I would share some of the results above. Also ramp construction will start within the next week or so and new parking places have been set up on the ramp which can be seen in the photos. This will be covered in a future post.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

JetBlue "Blueberries" repaints

JetBlue has started repainted A320s with the new billboard titles and "Blueberries" tail design. The following aircraft have been spotted with the new titles and tail design: N534JB, N561JB, N562JB, N563JB, N564JB, N566JB, and N568JB. Updates will follow as planes are repainted.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday 2-5-2010

Allegiant Air MD-87 N952MA ferried in from Laughlin/Bullhead Intl (KIFP) as AAY5043 at 7:55pm and parked at the terminal.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Frontier announces DEN-LGB Service

Here is the schedule for Frontier starting May 14, 2010.

Denver to Long Beach $299* each way

Flight Number - 1011

Departs - 8:40am
Arrives - 10:15am
Frequency - Daily

Flight Number - 1009
Departs - 6:10pm
Arrives - 7:45pm
Frequency - Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sun

Long Beach to Denver $299* each way

Flight Number - 1008
Departs - 6:45am
Arrives - 10:05am
Frequency - Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat

Flight Number - 1010

Departs - 11:00am
Arrives - 2:19pm
Frequency - Daily

JetBlue tests Winglets again on A320

JetBlue had a A320 N556JB testing winglets for Aviation Partners Inc (API) last month. The photos were taken at San Bernardino Int'l Airport (KSBD) on Janary 17, 2010. The plane is now back in Orlando and will be returned to service in the next week or so without the winglets. Aviation Partners Inc, (API) and JetBlue will now review the data collected from testing. Hopefully the results will show a fuel savings of 5-8% which is what JetBlue and API are hoping for. More updates to come later this year I am sure.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama rejects C-17 funding in new budget

President Barack Obama strongly rejected continued funding for Boeing's C-17 in his proposed fiscal year 2011 budget Monday, calling future spending on the Long Beach-built jet "waste, pure and simple."

"We save money by eliminating unnecessary defense programs that do nothing to keep us safe," Obama said. "One example is the $2.5 billion that we're spending to build C-17 transport aircraft. Four years ago, the Defense Department decided to cease production because it had acquired the number requested - 180. Yet every year since, Congress had provided unrequested money for more C-17s that the Pentagon doesn't want or need. It's waste, pure and simple."

Boeing officials reacted to the statement diplomatically, saying they believe there is future need for the aircraft both domestically and internationally.

"While we do not comment on our lobbying activities, we can say that Boeing is focusing our efforts on the demand for affordable, reliable and capable airlift globally," said Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling. "We intend to aggressively seek international sales of the C-17."

The C-17 supports some 5,000 jobs at Boeing's production, sales and research plant in Long Beach.

The president had also suggested in 2009 that Congress not support additional dollars for the heavy airlift cargo plane. Despite his request, Congress funded 10 jets for the U.S. Air Force at a cost of $2.5 billion.

The president's suggested budget is only a proposal, as Congress holds ultimate authority on spending, so his call to end C-17 production will need approval by both the House and Senate. Obama can veto spending projects approved by Congress, but federal law allows a presidential veto to be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses.

Area Congress members could not be reached Monday for reaction to the President's latest call to end C-17 funding, but California Sen. Barbara Boxer said in a statement that she strongly disagreed with Obama's assessment.

"While I agree with President Obama's focus on job creation in his new budget, this is one area where we don't agree," Boxer said. "I will work to restore funding for this program that is important for so many of our military and humanitarian missions."

The plane has traditionally enjoyed strong support from lawmakers in California and the 44 states where suppliers are based.

The C-17 has seen extensive use in Iraq, Afghanistan, and more recently, ferrying relief aid to earthquake-stricken Haiti. Along with the United States, C-17s are owned by Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and a NATO-led consortium based in Hungary.

The Indian Air Force is also considering purchasing 10 of the jets.

But while Boeing looks for international orders, company officials believe domestic production is vital to keep the plant and its suppliers across the country operating. Boeing estimates it needs 12 to 15 orders annually to justify high production costs.

"U.S. orders will ultimately be needed in the future to keep the line open," Drelling said. "It is important to preserve this vital airlift program that is the only military wide-body manufacturing capability in the United States."

Currently, C-17 production is expected to end in mid- to late 2012, though Boeing has entered into formal negotiations with India for 10 planes, which could push production into 2013.

Other recent orders have come from the United Arab Emirates, which purchased six C-17s in early January and the United Kingdom, which added one to its existing fleet of six a few days later.

Increasingly, the C-17 has been used for humanitarian efforts.

The plane has been used to haul tons of medical aid, food, water and personnel in the wake of such disasters as Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the earthquake and tsunami that struck American Samoa and Tonga in September and most recently, the earthquake in Haiti.

The plane can carry up to 170,000 pounds of equipment and land on remote, unpaved runways as short as 3,000 feet, making it unique among the world's heavy-lift aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force has a C-17 fleet of about 194 with roughly a dozen more on order. It was first introduced in the early 1990s as a more-efficient alternative to Lockheed's C-5 aircraft.

Last year, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., led a spirited attempt to strip funding for more C-17s in the federal defense budget, but his amendment was eventually voted down in a bipartisan 68-30 vote.

And in October, over strong objections from the White House, the Senate and House jointly agreed to purchase 10 more C-17s.

The federal government estimates restarting the plant after closure would cost in excess of $1 billion.

"Preserving this program provides an affordable option to the U.S. Air Force and Congress if they need to fill what we believe is a growing demand for airlift," Drelling said.

(Press Telegram)

New Airlines Coming To LGB!!

First off I want to appologize for not posting anything the last 3 weeks but I have been busy between work and personal life. Now on to the news!

On January 29, 2010 there was a raffel for the six available slots at Long Beach Airport. Four airlines had standing letters on file with the city for slots. They were Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Skywest Airlines. Both Allegiant and Frontier will recieve 2 slots while JetBlue and Skywest both get 1 slot each. The new airlines have 90 days to begin service from March 1.

The airlines must then operate service continuously for 180 days to finalize the allocation. If any of the airlines choose to relinquish a slot, then the city would go back to the other carriers that were interested in additional slots and would most likely have a raffel.

The six slots were the most available since 2001 when JetBlue came to LGB. Currently there are 16 commuter slots still available.