News of the Force: Sunday, February 4, 2018 - Page 2

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                                              NEWS OF THE FORCE: Sunday, February 4, 2018  Page 2


U.S. Air Force
     The Indian and the U.S. air forces will significantly step up operational cooperation to complement the strategic interests of the two countries in the Indo-Pacific region, the chief of the U.S. Air Force, Gen. David L Goldfein, has said, while expressing concern over China's rising military influence over the area.
     In Cleveland, Ohio, the IX Center is converting a vintage military plane into a restaurant and lounge.
The I-X Center's C-97 was built in Seattle, Wash., in 1953 and was used at U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard bases across the country and in Germany. Its service ended in 1978 when it was shipped to the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
     The U.S. Air Force has published a request for proposal (RFP) of launch services for five separate satellites from 2020 to 2022. It's filed with relation to the USAF's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, under which only SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) are certified.
     The Air Force Marathon has been named one of the "15 Best Fall Marathons in the U.S." by the popular fitness website, Daily Burn.
     Brady Tomlak scored in the third period and Billy Christopoulos made 22 saves as Air Force and AIC skated to a 2-2 overtime tie in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game yesterday at the Air Force Academy's Cadet Ice Arena.
     Col. Allison Miller, 46, became the first woman to lead an Ohio Air National Guard wing when she took command of Mansfield's 179th Airlift Wing during an "assumption of command" ceremony yesterday.
     Five New York Air National Guard members assigned to the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) have been promoted to new ranks, recognizing their capability for additional responsibility and leadership. The five are members of the Air National Guard's 224th Air Defense Group.
     The 120th Airlift Wing of the Montana Air National Guard honored its 2017 award recipients yesterday morning. The wing recognized several individuals for their outstanding service. Some of the awards were for the 120th AW Airmen of the Year, the Key Spouse of the Year, and recent retirees.
     And Angel Rodriguez, one of 18 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets to take flight with pilots from the Nebraska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, took a flight orientation inside a Cessna 172s at Central Nebraska Regional Airport, yesterday.

News from the U.S. Marshals Service
    
Richard K. "Kirk" Bowden, who served as a deputy U.S. Marshal during the civil rights era, providing security at the 1963 March on Washington and for James Meredith, the first African-American student at the University of Mississippi, died on Jan. 20th at his home in Silver Spring, Md. He was 82.
     The U.S. Marshals Service District of Montana has issued a BOLO Alert (Be-on-the-Lookout) for Dante King. King is wanted by the Violent Offender Task Force based on a felony warrant for assault with a weapon. King, 35, is described as a black male, 6'1" tall, weighing 250 pounds with black hair.
     And Richard Allen Evans, 50, of Arvada, Colo., who robbed a bank in Montgomery, Ala., twice, was sentenced last week in the federal court there, U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin, Sr., has announced. The Montgomery Police Department investigated the case, with assistance from the Suwanee County, Fla., Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Marshals Service.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps
     The U.S. Government has conducted the largest-ever lease offering within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, putting out for bid 900 tracts covering 16,100 square miles. The petroleum reserve was created in 1923 by President Warren Harding as an emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy.
     Richard Mapes has been named as the new leader of a troubled Wisconsin veterans home. Mapes has 20 years of experience as a senior living and retirement facilities administrator, and has been a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve for more than 30 years.
     For the first time in 30 years, the U.S. Marine Corps aired an ad during a Super Bowl, using an online-only spot today to target a young, tough, tech-savvy audience for potential recruits who are looking for a challenge.
     As China builds out its network of militarized islands in the South China Sea and expands a sphere of influence designed to keep the U.S. out, the U.S. Marine Corps is putting the finishing touches on a weapon to burst its bubble: the F-35B.
     "A Nation's Call" is the latest commercial released under Marine Corps Recruiting Command's "Battles Won" advertising campaign. It showcases the full power of the United States Marine Corps conducting an assault mission. The commercial opens with Marines loading onto helicopters.
     And U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force personnel were awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation by the head of the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific, Lt. General David Berger, during his visit to the Royal Australian Navy amphibious ship HMAS Adelaide, in Sydney.

Airlines try - and fail - to raise prices
By Jim Corvey, News of the Force St. Louis
      U.S. airlines are asking shareholders to believe they can raise ticket prices while ramping up the supply of seats. To Wall Street, that sounds like a fairy tale.
     Six attempts at broad-based fare increases have failed in the last two months, most recently a bid by Delta Air Lines. The last successful widespread price hike was Oct. 10th, said JPMorgan Chase analyst Jamie Baker, even as oil prices rebounded from a three-year slump. That'’s creating a confidence crisis for investors, who recently sent airlines to the biggest drop since 2015 when United Continental announced an aggressive expansion plan. The No. 3 U.S. carrier is hardly alone. Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Alaska Air are also planning to grow faster than the economy. The worry is that the only way to generate enough demand to fill the new seats is by cutting prices. And that risks triggering fresh fare wars just as profits are under pressure from rising fuel costs.
     Capacity is starting to increase faster than demand,” said Samuel Engel, senior vice president at consultant ICF. “At that point any one carrier starts to say, ‘I’d rather add capacity and try to steal share than support a fare increase across the industry.’”
     A Standard & Poor’s index is still more than 8 percent lower than before United disclosed its growth plans.
     It’'s a competitive business, and one carrier’s attempt to raise fares can be another’s opportunity to win new customers with bargain prices. But one reason investors including Warren Buffett have bought airline shares is the expectation that after years of industry consolidation, carriers will be able to maintain steady profits, thanks in part to stronger pricing power.
     Delta and American Airlines, the two biggest carriers, have slowed their expansion in recent years to let demand catch up with supply — and make it easier to charge more for tickets. They’re boosting capacity only 2.5 percent this year, roughly in line with growth expectations for gross domestic product, a barometer of travel demand.
     A slower seat expansion helped defuse fare wars that began in 2015 and flared up again last summer before subsiding later in the year. And with the improving economy, it’s possible airlines will still be able to boost passenger revenue for each seat flown a mile, a proxy for pricing power, despite all the capacity growth.
     "“We think the fare environment will be strong enough to offset higher-than-expected capacity growth out of United,” David Vernon, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said. “"The fare environment will surprise to the upside against now lower expectations through the first three quarters of 2018.”"
     But a fast-growing supply of seats will be a headwind for efforts to raise fares. United reignited concern with its plan to expand as much as 6 percent each year through 2020. JetBlue said it would boost 2018 capacity as much as 8.5 percent, Alaska Air has targeted 7.5 percent and Southwest will grow about 5 percent. Total industry capacity will increase about 5.5 percent, said George Ferguson, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. For now, “airlines don’'t have pricing power,” he said. It will be difficult for carriers to raise fares this year enough to offset the higher cost of fuel, “unless somebody modifies their expansion plans, especially United and Southwest.”
     Southwest, which pioneered the discount model, is a frequent holdout from rivals’ attempts to raise fares. JPMorgan’'s Baker said an increase recently failed when United didn't match it.
     Deep discounter Spirit Airlines and other smaller carriers should be eager to see fares climb as they face higher labor and fuel prices, said Andrew Davis, an analyst at the T. Rowe Price Group, the largest shareholder at American, and an investor in United, Delta and Southwest. The price of fuel in New York has risen above $2 a gallon, about 30 percent higher than a year ago.
     Doug Parker, the chief executive officer of American, said on Jan. 25th that fares “are too low for oil prices this high.” Carriers will find a way to pass on the increase to consumers, he said, “but it takes time.” There’'s generally a gap of at least three months between when fuel climbs and fare increases show up. Historically, airlines have dealt with rising fuel prices by paring back capacity, said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. It’s too early for Delta to think about adjusting its growth plans, but the carrier will be prepared to act if fuel prices “continue on this tear,” he said.
     Carriers are right to be cautious about raising fares too quickly, said Rick Seaney, chief executive of 3 Victors, which tracks real-time air fare purchases. There’s a risk that when ticket prices increase enough to cover the cost of fuel, that can also discourage some travel. Of the 2 million passengers flying on a given day, 1 percent to 3 percent may not have taken that trip had the price been $1 or $3 more,” Seaney said. “Each one of those passengers had a breaking point where they wouldn'’t have flown. One more dollar and you broke the camel’s back.”

The parting shots
    
Researchers using a high-tech aerial mapping technique have found tens of thousands of previously undetected Mayan houses, buildings, defense works and pyramids in the dense jungle of Guatemala's Peten region.
     Pope Francis' recent decision to replace two Chinese bishops loyal to Rome with selectees of the country's communist government, heralding his broader moves to reset the Vatican's ties with Beijing, has drawn cries of betrayal.
     Archaeologists in Egypt have unveiled the newly discovered tomb of an ancient priestess that dates back 4,400 years. The tomb found near Cairo is adorned with well-preserved and rare wall paintings depicting the priestess, Hetpet.
     While promoting her new book, Brave, in New York City, actress Rose McGowan got into a verbal altercation with a trans woman over a question about transphobic comments she made in the past. The incident has led McGowan to cancel all upcoming public appearances. "I have given enough," she tweeted.
     And the U.K.'s first private police force has solved hundreds of crimes the police are too busy to look at. The new force has a 100% conviction rate and is now investigating murders.

                                                       


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