Archive for September, 2013

Sept. 11, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Oil futures on Wednesday scored their first gain in three sessions, finding modest support in the wake of a two-session drop of almost 3% as traders weighed progress toward avoiding a U.S. military strike on Syria.

A U.S. government report showing a smaller-than-expected fall in crude supplies and a surprise increase in gasoline inventories kept a cap on oil’s gains.

Crude oil for October delivery CLV3 -0.70% climbed 17 cents, or 0.2%, to settle at $107.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices tallied a drop of 2.8% on Monday and Tuesday.

Prices turned lower shortly after the government supply data were released then recovered.

“Trading today was pretty choppy as we continue to keep our eyes and ears open on any new developments on the situation in Syria,” said John Macaluso, research analyst at Tyche Capital Advisors.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration Wednesday reported that crude stockpiles for the week ended Sept. 6 fell by 200,000 barrels. Analysts polled by Platts were looking for a decline of 2 million barrels.

Gasoline supplies rose 1.7 million barrels, contrary to expectations for a decline of 1 million barrels. Distillate stockpiles, which include heating oil, added 2.6 million barrels, while forecasts called for an increase of 800,000 barrels.

On Nymex, October gasoline RBV3 -0.17%  fell 2 cents, or 0.9%, to $2.71 a gallon, while October heating oil HOV3 -0.59%  rose half a cent to $3.07 a gallon.

Data late Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute showed that crude supplies fell 2.9 million barrels last week.

In London, October Brent crude UK:LCOV3 -0.37% , the European benchmark, gained 25 cents, or 0.2%, to $111.50 a barrel on ICE Futures.

via Oil prices score first gain in three sessions – Futures Movers – MarketWatch.

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Sept. 13, 2013

U.S. railroads are off to a good traffic-generation start in September. For the week ending Sept. 7, they reported 278,594 carloads, up 2.2 percent, and 228,899 intermodal loads, up 6.7 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Total U.S. rail traffic climbed 4.2 percent to 507,493 units. Seven of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by motor vehicles and parts at 21.9 percent. Farm and food products traffic, excluding grain, declined 8.6 percent.

For the week ending Sept. 7, Canadian railroads reported 77,513 carloads, up 1.6 percent, and 52,837 intermodal loads, up 6.5 percent year over year. Mexican railroads’ weekly carloads rose 2.8 percent to 14,567 units, but their intermodal volume dropped 12.6 percent to 9,196 units.

Through 2013’s first 36 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 13,412,073 carloads, down 0.2 percent, and 11,018,489 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

The AAR also announced it joined Federal Railroad Administration, City Colleges of Chicago and freight railroad representatives yesterday at a Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Expo held at Olive-Harvey College in Chicago.

This year, freight railroads expect to hire more than 11,000 people, so events that can promote rail industry careers to students are vital to ensuring the industry remains successful, said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a press release.

“The rail industry is always looking for ways to recruit the best and the brightest students, and we encourage young Americans to explore the tremendous opportunities that a railroad career has to offer,” he said.

via Rail News – AAR cites strong Week 36 traffic results, promotes rail careers at Chicago event. For Railroad Career Professionals.

Sept. 12, 2013

The Transportation Services Index (TSI) in July reached 115.3, up 0.2 percent from June’s level and 2.5 percent from July 2012’s mark, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

July’s Freight TSI of 114.3 inched up 0.3 percent on a month-over-month basis and rose 2.4 percent on a year-over-year basis. The measure of monthly output from for-hire rail, trucking, inland waterway, pipeline and air freight carriers remained above its 2012 range for the seventh-straight month, BTS officials said in a press release.

The small July bump was driven by gains in rail intermodal and inland water shipments, as well as small increases in trucking and rail carloads, they said.

“The slow increase in July after a decrease in June is likely influenced by the decrease in manufacturing output in July,” BTS officials said.

Meanwhile, July’s Passenger TSI of 117.9 ratcheted up 0.2 percent from June’s level and climbed 2.5 percent from July 2012’s mark. The index measures month-to-month changes in travel provided by for-hire air, local transit and intercity rail services.

via Rail News – Transportation Services Index inched up in July. For Railroad Career Professionals.

Sept. 10, 2013

FORT WORTH — American Airlines said Monday that passenger traffic and a key revenue figure rose in August compared with last summer in a sign of continuing solid demand for air travel.

American said that passenger revenue for every seat flown one mile rose 3 percent compared with August 2012. That figure rises if airlines sell more tickets at high prices and fewer at discounted sale fares.

The American increase, which also included the American Eagle regional carrier, was slightly below increases at United, Delta, Southwest and US Airways but still set a company record for the month of August.

American and Eagle reported that traffic rose 3.2 percent, as passengers flew 12.75 billion miles last month, up from 12.36 billion in August 2012. International traffic rose 6.7 percent as more people flew to Asia and Latin America, while traffic within the U.S. grew just 0.8 percent.

Combined, American and Eagle increased capacity by 4.2 percent, with most of the growth on international routes. Airlines raise capacity by adding flights or using bigger planes that hold more passengers.

With capacity growing faster than traffic, there were more empty seats. The average August flight was 85 percent full, compared with 85.8 percent a year earlier.

Through August, traffic in 2013 has increased 1.3 percent, capacity has grown by 0.8 percent, and the average flight was 83.1 percent full, up from 82.7 percent in 2012.

American parent AMR Corp., which is attempting to merge with US Airways, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011 but has cut labor costs and posted stronger results. It earned $220 million in the quarter that ended June 30, and it set a one-month record with a $292 million profit for July.

The U.S. Justice Department and several states are suing in federal court to block the merger, which they say will restrict competition and drive up prices for consumers.

via American Airlines reports increase in traffic, revenue figure | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Sept. 9, 2013

When asked why he was suing to strike a portion of his union’s own contract, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen had a simple answer.

“I believe that the agreement was illegal,” he said. “The MaBSTOA contract set the industry standard, and I want it back.”

Differences in Divisions

Mr. Samuelsen was referring to a provision negotiated in 2002, eight years before he became president. Before that, almost all bus employees in the Bronx and Manhattan worked for the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA), while those in Brooklyn worked for New York City Transit.

Once you were hired by one division, you could work only in its depots; benefits, pensions and pay practices could differ significantly between the two departments. Now they’ve been consolidated, and the biggest difference is that Manhattan and Bronx workers have their own pension plan, while NYCT employees participate in NYCERS. Mr. Samuelsen wants the workers back in two divisions.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority declined to comment on the issue, since it is an ongoing legal matter.

But according to court papers, the dispute dates back to 2010, when then-MTA chief Jay Walder laid off several hundred employees, many of whom were bus drivers or mechanics. Local 100 tried to block the agency from hiring new New York City Transit employees before laid-off MaBSTOA workers, which the union argued violated the earlier agreement. An arbitrator sided with the MTA, saying that portion of the provision violated civil-service law.

via Samuelsen Suing To Put Workers Back In Two Divisions – The Chief: News Of The Week.

Sept. 11, 2013

Bus drivers and monitors with Durham School Services on Monday asked Burleson ISD trustees to consider finding a new company to provide the district’s bus service.

The request came after contract negotiations between Durham and Transport Workers Union-Burleson Durham, the new union for Durham bus drivers and monitors in BISD.

BISD drivers and monitors in the Burleson school district could vote in October to go on strike, according to a union newsletter.

Union members spoke during the public comment section of the board meeting. Trustees could not discuss the issue because it was not on the agenda.

Michael Blood, a Durham bus driver and member of the team attempting to negotiate a contract between the union and the company, said that negotiations failed because Durham refused to allow union members the option of having their union dues withheld from their paychecks.

Blood said negotiations have been going for almost a year and that disagreement over the dues check-off option have stalled the process.

Blood also said the dues check-off option is “written into every other contract Durham has” with unions in other districts.

“We agreed to [all of Durham’s terms]. But in an effort to stop a contract, they refused us the dues check-off,” Blood said.

He said a federal mediator has been unable to help the two sides reach an agreement.

J.L. Gunter, a Durham employee and union member on the negotiating team, also spoke.

“When this contract [between BISD and Durham] comes up for renewal in February, I ask that you seriously think about going with someone else,” Gunter said.

Gunter said Durham considers the drivers and monitors to be part-time employees, even though they drive a.m. and p.m. routes, midday routes and to and from field trips. Because they are part-time employees, he said, they are not afforded any benefits.

Drivers and monitors receive no sick days. In the event of a death in a family, they receive three days of bereavement leave.

“If we have to be in the hospital, we get no pay, and when we are able to return to work, we are written up for being absent,” Gunter said.

The company’s treatment of its drivers and monitors leads to high turnover and low morale, he said, saying that union members are asking for a fair wage and benefits.

Durham is a part of National Express Corporation, which is the North American subsidiary of the United Kingdom-based National Express Group. National Express Corporation includes Durham School Services and Petermann in the U.S., and Stock Transportation in Canada, according to the company’s website.

National Express Corporation, headquartered in Warrensville, Ill., serves 450 school districts in 32 states and four Canadian provinces, and has a fleet of 20,000 buses, according to the website.

In an Aug. 28 letter to drivers and monitors, Clint Muhlenberg, Durham general manager for the Burleson area, wrote that “Durham’s Best and Final Offer was rejected by the employees who attended the ratification vote and voted this past week following the parties reaching tentative agreements on all items except Dues Check Off.

“Let me start by saying that we are not opposed to employees paying union dues if that is their choice. However, it is our position that this type of financial transaction is a private matter between employees and the union. If employees choose to pay the union directly, we will not stand in the way of that decision but as a company, we do no want to take on the responsibility of withholding dues from an employee’s paycheck.”

Muhlenberg said the company is disappointed that the offer was rejected.

“Our focus needs to continue to be on safe and reliable transportation for the students and families who rely on us,” he wrote.

In a recent company newsletter, Gunter, Blood and Steve Roberts, another member of the contract negotiation committee, said that the vote on Aug. 20 to reject Durham’s offer was unanimous.

The newsletter calls the company’s refusal to offer the dues check option “an insult to all the members in Burleson who work for Durham school bus services.”

According to the union newsletter, “Mr. Muhlenberg, it’s nice to hear you are not opposed to union members paying dues. Again, why does your company take, as you say, the financial transactions or responsibilities in all of its other union contracts all over the United States of America, but you continues to refuse the employees here in Burleson of their voluntary dues check off in your Best and Final contract offer?”

The letter concluded with the promise that shop stewards will keep union members informed on the planning and date of a meeting in October at which members will hold the possible strike authorization vote.

via Bus drivers at BISD to find a new bus service company » Local News » Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX.

Sept. 12, 20313

Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV – Analyst Report) posted a drop in traffic for Aug 2013. The company’s traffic – measured in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) – was 9.17 billion for the reported month, down 2.0% from 9.35 billion recorded in the comparable month a year ago. On a year-over-year basis, consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) moved up 1.4% to 11.27 billion. The load factor or percentage of seats filled by passengers dropped to 81.3% from 84.2% in Aug 2012.

For the first eight months of this year, Southwest generated RPMs of 70.83 billion (up 0.8% year over year) and ASMs of 88.25 billion (up 1.6% year over year). Load factor was 80.3%, reflecting a year-over-year decline of 60 basis points.

Southwest focuses on a number of initiatives to increase revenues and reduce operational costs over the next three years. With its cost-efficient business model, the company targets to expand its network through the integration of AirTran aircraft and the addition of new domestic and international destinations.

To combat further cost escalations, Southwest is rightsizing its fleet. During the first half of 2013, the airline took delivery of nine The Boeing Company’s (BA – Analyst Report) 737-800s, two used Boeing 737-700 and retired three Boeing 737-300s.

However, fuel price instability remains one of the major risks for the company as the cost of fuel is largely unpredictable. Furthermore, Southwest continues to implement substantial technological changes within its operating systems, which could affect its earnings in case of any system failure or disruption.

The U.S. low-cost carrier reported second quarter 2013 adjusted earnings of 38 cents per share, a penny short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate, while revenues of $4.6 billion were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

via Soft Aug Traffic for Southwest – September 12, 2013 – Zacks.com.