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A Snapshot in Time 

Rechard Lung 

Director_Flight Crew Scheduling

The Pilot Schedule, July 1999
This is my best snapshot at what to expect for the next six to twelve months.  Be aware, however, because of the natural ebb and flow of the airline industry, things can easily change.  In fact, the need to be quick and nimble has driven us to redeploy aircraft and capacity in unprecedented fashion over the last two years from the poor-performing Pacific and Latin America theaters of operation to the better performing domestic and Atlantic theaters.  Because you need to make career and lifestyle decisions, I continue to pledge to keep you informed of any significant changes in interim Pilot Schedule articles leading up to the next six- month overview.

Since the last six-month overview back in January, we converted seven B400s slated for delivery in the 2000-2002 time frame to nine B777 deliveries, bringing the B777 fleet to 61 aircraft by 2002 -- up from the current plan of 52.  Also due to revenue weakness domestically, retirement of two B747-100s was advanced from December to September 1999.

The firm fleet plan now lays out like this:

Year-End Fleet Plan
 (Excludes Options)

  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
B747-400 36 43 44 44 44 44
B747-100/200 13 7 7 1 0 0
B777 34 40 48 56 61 61
DC10 23 13 7 4 4 4
B767/757 142 149 152 154 154 154
A319/320 71 84 100 133 133 133
B727-200 75 75 75 75 75 75
B737-300/500 158 158 158 158 158 158
B737-200 24 24 24 24 24 24
Total 576 593 615 649 653 653

We also have enough A319/320 options (89) to start retiring the B727s and some of the B737-200S between 2001 and 2003.  This will help us achieve our fleet simplification goal of going from the current nine fleet types to five fleet types, with the B747-400, B777, B767/B757, A319/A320, and B737-300/500 as the remaining fleets.  A simpler fleet enables us to build you better quality schedules, helps you avoid going to transition school, and helps us move toward a goal of a big, medium and small equipment domicile at each of our eight mainland domiciles, allowing pilots to progress within one domicile.

B400.  We continue to be long on B400s and short on B777s.  Generally, the economics of the B777 are so superior, that any route that is within payload range for the B777 is best flown by a B777.  Routes that are B777-range capable but have high demands could be supported by the B400s without much economic penalty, freeing up the B777 to do much more valuable service on lower-demand international missions like SEA-NRT.  Since the last overview, we've canceled B400 service to LAXKIX and ORD-KIX, but will be adding LAX-MEL service effective Dec. 4 and SFO-SHA service in April 2000.  We are also converting SEA-NRT B400 service to B777 service.  Over time we expect to see B400s deployed on high-demand routes like HNL-NRT and on high-demand routes to Europe during the summer, as well as have B400s start replacing the B747 on heavy domestic wingtip missions as the B747s retire.  We take the 44th and last B400 on April 2000.

HNL is now expected to close Jan. 1, with the HNL B400 base scheduled to open Jan. 31.  The remaining B747-238 flying will be consolidated at SFO.  Mainland- to-HNL flying in the B747-238 with up to four roundtrips will continue until year end 1999 and probably extend into 2000.  The final B747-238 aircraft is expected to retire March 2002.

The first Pacific mission to receive the B777 is SEA-NRT-BKK, which starts Oct. 31 flown by the new SEA B777 crew base.  If Asia recovers, we can expect to see previously canceled routes return in B777B bunked aircraft: SFO-SEL, LAX-KIX, ORD-KIX, and LAX-NRT #2.  We also expect to see two-class B777As start being deployed on LAX/SFO to the Hawaiian Islands starting in early 2000.  No major changes in the Atlantic or South America are contemplated.  IAD-MUC is expected to remain as a B777 throughout the winter.

The DC10s will start retiring fairly rapidly at the end of 1999.  Expect to see these base closings: LAX in IQ/2Q 2000; SFO in 3Q/4Q 2000; and ORD in 3Q 2001.

B767/757 missions should not change appreciably.  As we take more two-class B767-300s (five in 1999, three in 2000), they will be deployed on hub-to-hub missions and West Coast to Hawaiian Islands.  Anticipate a sharp increase in B767/757 flying from LAX/SFO to Hawaiian Islands in early 2000 after B747- 100s are retired and DC10s start dropping rapidly.

The big news here is the deployment of incremental narrowbody aircraft in LAX this fall.  These aircraft will be sourced primarily from the growth narrowbodies that we were planning to take this year, as well as aircraft freed up from wingtip replacement with the B747.  If the slot restrictions lift at ORD, look for us to build up ORD over time.  The slot issue is under pending legislation.  The A320 will continue to replace the B300s and B727s on longer- haul midcon missions.  Look for the B727s to continue to move east to Business One markets, and the B300s to serve high utilization short-haul missions, some of which may be converted to U30 operations.

Over the last year we have opened or announced the opening of JFK A320, LAX B777, SEA B777 and HNL B400.  Possible additional new domiciles include MIA A320, DEN B777 and DCA U30.  With respect to existing domiciles, given the constant churn in the route plan, our short-term strategy is to maintain stable line levels across all equipment domiciles -- where possible -- by shifting flying around.  This allows us to use existing manpower in the short term, minimizing pockets of trapped surplusses.  If there is a clear picture of where we are heading with our route plan and the resulting impact on an equipment domicile in the long term, then we will be building or reducing line levels at that location in a very orderly fashion, with the goal of avoiding taking lines from other domiciles and also avoiding involuntary surplusses as much as possible.

With equipment in all stable or growing fleets, JFK lines are expected to grow slightly across all equipment types.  No significant changes expected in the B400 or B777 fleets.  No B400 domestic route expected out of NYC, as no route has demand to support 400 seats.  If we add international service out of NYC with the B777, we would return ORDLHR #3 to ORD.  ORD-LHR #3 is used to keep JFK line levels stable, after JFK-EZE was downgauged from a B777 to a B767.  The A320 flying from MIA-CCS/LIM service could go to MIA if a MIA A320 base opens.  In this scenario, we would backfill JFK with domestic A320 lines.

No net change from summer to winter on B777.  This winter, IAD B777 will have two roundtrips each to LHR, FRA, CDG and one roundtrip each to AMS and MUC.  Normal seasonal pulldown from B777 to B767 on IAD-CDG #2 and IAD- MUC is not expected.  IAD B777 loses the seasonal LAX-LHR #2, but picks up the second IAD-FRA which is flown in the summer as a B400 with ORD crews.  IAD-LHR #3 which is flown as a B400 by LAX crews in the summer returns temporarily in September/October as a B777.  IAD B767 will continue to fly IAD- BRU, IAD-MXP, and possibly ORD-CDG #2.
Narrowbody lines in the A320 and B300 should increase by 25 to 50 to support the buildup implemented this spring.  We will move narrowbody lines to IAD, as pilots bid off these equipment types at other bases.  Possible U30 domicile here if quickturn B300 operation proves successful.

The two B767 trips downgauged from B777 (GIG, SCL) are expected to remain in B767 equipment throughout the winter peak.  An A320 MIA base is possible early 2000 if MIA-LIM proves economically viable.  However, the LIM route is payload restricted and has historically struggled to make money in a B757.  Hopefully we'll have an answer by later this year.

Since ORD is a slot-controlled airport, expect overall stable line levels but a shifting of lines from smaller to larger equipment.  However there is pending legislation to lift ORD slot restrictions.  If this were to occur, growth at ORD could explode.  Summer flying IAD-FRA for B400s will return to B777 flying with IAD crews in the fall.  A possibility exists that the second ORD-NRT could convert to B777 in future, and ORD-KIX could return as a B777, but not until late 2000 at the earliest. We'll maintain three ORD-LHR B777 roundtrips throughout the winter, with two flown by ORD crews and one flown by JFK crews in a "W"
pattern as mentioned above.

No real changes here.  A B777 base is possible, especially if we receive DEN-LHR route authority.  We still would like to have other flying DEN-FRA and/or domestic flying to support an efficient base.  While DEN has been identified as a growth city for us, plans are put on hold due to resource needs at IAD and LAX.

The B777 base opening was advanced to Oct. 31 to support SEA-NRT-BKK service.  There aren't enough A320 entries to justify an A320 base.  B767 and U30 operations remain fairly stable.

Like ORD, SFO is a capacity-limited airport, so overall line levels will probably stay the same, but there will be shifting from one equipment type to another, probably to larger equipment over time.  SFO B400 loses SEA-NRT and HNL- NRT, but will pick up SFO-SHA in April 2000.  The second summer seasonal SFO-HKG B400 was canceled before it started due to revenue weakness in HKG.  B747-238 flying consolidates in SFO after HNL base closing.  A B777 SFO-SEL return is possible if Asia recovers.  Also possibility that second SFO-NRT converts from B400 to B777.  Two-class B767-300 domestic and two-class B777A flying to Hawaiian Islands expected to increase as we take delivery of these planes, with sharp increases in B757/B767-300 two-class flying to Hawaiian Islands expected in early 2000.  DCIO base expected to close second half 2000.  No significant changes to narrowbodies.  B727 expected to remain viable until at least 2001 when we expect to start replacing B727s with A319s/A320s.

We officially made LAX a "hub" recently with facility expansion/renovation and 30 incremental departures this fall, with southern tier flying to competitors' hubs and short-haul United Express flying converted to United Shuttle flying.  Like the IAD buildup earlier this year, we will use existing allocated manpower from other domiciles to pick up some LAX flying until the narrowbody pilots bid off.  So expect some shifting of lines to the LAX A320 and U30 fleets over time.  LAX B400 lost LAX-KIX, but picked up LAX-MEL.  LAX B777 could pick up two- class flying to Hawaiian Islands in 2000, and possibly some Japan flying in late 2000.  DCIO base expected to close first half of 2000.  Sharp increase in B757/B767-300 domestic two-class flying to Hawaiian Islands expected in early 2000.

A three to four aircraft operation is expected to continue to exist here until August 2001, when the passenger DC10s retire.  Then, we would like to convert the flying to B40OFs, B777Fs, or B767Fs.

HNL B747 closes Jan. 1 and HNL B400 opens Jan. 31, with HNL-NRT flying.  HNL possibly picks up some NRT-tag flying.

We expect to hire 600 to 700 pilots this year, compared to 540 last year.  We anticipate that approximately 450 pilots will retire this year (including age 60, MD, etc).  Additional pilots may be needed to support the FAAissued Notice of Proposed Rule Making for a dedicated rest period for domestic reserves.