Southwest Airlines' profits dipped 40 percent last quarter, leading some to speculate that the airline may jettison its "bags fly free" policy in a bid to lift revenues.
Boeing says cracks in the skins of its older 737s have appeared sooner than expected. The aerospace company reported that the planes require detailed inspections of their skins after 30,000 flights -- not the 60,000 specified in earlier maintenance guidelines.
Will Southwest's passengers now be reluctant to board the airline's planes -- even if they all pass inspection? The airline, which is considered one of the best run and most innovative in the country, may discover that a good reputation and a strong brand can be fleeting.
Southwest Airlines, one of the earliest discount airlines, will buy rival AirTran -- another sign of consolidation in an industry that has witnessed the mergers of Northwest with Delta and United with Continental over the last two years.
United Airlines parent UAL Corp. and AirTran Airways will release their fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday, and both are expected to post improved results, helped by lower jet fuel costs and slower declines in demand.
Continental Airlines and Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest discount carrier, posted fourth-quarter profits Thursday, helped by lower fuel costs and improved demand, but both cautioned that the sector faces more turbulence in 2010.
Southwest and Continental report quarterly earnings Thursday with investors keen to hear if the outfits will be adding back some capacity in 2010, an indication that the worst of the industry's downturn may be behind it.
Delta and Continental are raising the fees they charge customers to check baggage to $25 for the first bag. The move underscores how the industry is trying to squeeze every nickle from the flying public. The winners in this trend? Package-delivery companies.