Don't Fill'er Up!

March 1, 2004

March 2004

O.K., so we are not out of the woods yet, in fact, we might want to start thinking about acclimating to that environment…learning to live with the "lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" Though positive reports do exist of the airline industry gaining strength at the end of 2003, caution cannot be thrown to the wind. Airlines remain circumspect and decisions continue to be marked by careful prudence. However, 2004, absent major events such as SARS, disease threats, terror attacks and wars, could be the year for the emergence from this series of setbacks, albeit slow. A looming concern for all carriers, low-cost and majors alike, is the price of oil, which can affect profits, ticket prices and strategic planning for the future (which always trickles down to major GSE purchases). Fuel is the airlines second largest cost after labor and has increased by almost 60 percent compared to the median price during the past 10 years. For some , hedging is no longer an option either; carriers are confronting the soaring jet fuel increase by joining forces in global alliances.
In the cover story, you will find that Southwest Airlines has a strategy of its own. Glenn Hipp, Director of Fuel Operations and Fuel Management talks about fuel operations and fuel storage facilities at Southwest. Hipp is certain we will see 'a lot more fuel automation' where just one person with a computer that controls all the fuel activities will operate an entire facility. Dr. Christine Groetzbach expounds on the advancements being made in fuel technology in her overview of what's on the market in automation and IT-products and solutions. Given the fact that this is your magazine, it's important when I talk with you out in the field, I find out if you have any recommendations or suggestions for the magazine. However, more important, is that I take your suggestions seriously and do something about it. In early January, I had the "warm" opportunity to visit with Steve Hedges, Ground Equipment Maintenance Forum with United Airlines. I say warm because I was able to leave the 20 below temperatures in Wisconsin during my visit to San Francisco! Thanks to his comment about missing Vasko's column "Ruminations From the Ramp" Tony is back! He will be reporting "from the ramp in every other issue. I'm also hoping to get George Prill to hop back up on his soapbox for an issue or two with his humorous and provocative allocutions.

Thanks for reading.