THE AIRLINE MONEY CRUNCH AND THE AIR FORCE DEBACLE
I have been watching transiting Uranus move up in the U.S. chart I follow; the one for the signing of the Articles of Confederation, which is November 15, 1777 ..12:46 P.M. York Pennsylvania. It is the researched chart of deceased astrologer David Solte.
Uranus at 22 Pisces 26 (collapse) in the U.S. 1st house is exactly squaring progressed U.S. Mercury in the 4th house at 22 Gemini 26, the sign of duality. As a result, airlines are cutting jobs, mothballing planes and reducing flights as they battle record fuel costs that have pushed the industry to its worst crisis since 2001, and the result is likely to be higher fares and fewer choices for travelers
To set this off, the new Moon on June 3rd at 13 Gemini 34 brought about some important transportation news. On that day, UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, the nation's No. 2 carrier, announced it would cut up to 1,100 more jobs, ground 70 airplanes and drop its coach-only service, named Ted.
Then on Thursday, June 5th, as transiting Venus came up to conjoin natal U.S. Uranus at 14 Gemini, Continental Airlines also announced cutbacks, saying it will shed 3,000 jobs -- more than 6 percent of its work force -- and reduce capacity by 11 percent this fall, due to higher costs.
The Houston-based airline said recent fare hikes have not covered the cost of fuel, which has nearly doubled in the past year. Continental estimates it will spend $2.3 billion more on fuel this year than last -- a difference of $50,000 per employee. Fuel has surpassed labor as Continental's biggest expense.
In a memo to employees, Continental Chief Executive Lawrence Kellner and President Jeffrey Smisek said at current fuel prices Continental is losing money on "a large number of our flights." As fares rise, fewer people will fly, and "we will need fewer employees to operate the airline," they said.
The executives said they expect most of the 3,000 job cuts will be handled through voluntary buyouts to limit layoffs. They didn't rule out more job losses.Many analysts consider Continental to be the healthiest of the six big network carriers, a group that excludes low-fare Southwest Airlines Co. But that did not make Continental immune from cuts -- the airline still lost $80 million in the first quarter after earning a profit last year.
"At current fuel prices, the old economics do not work. Ticket prices have to rise dramatically, and the only way that can be achieved is by sharply reducing capacity," he said. "The whole industry has to show this discipline or some big airline will have to go out of business."
Just recently, AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, the nation's largest airline, said it would cut capacity 11 percent to 12 percent after the peak summer travel season and probably eliminate thousands of jobs, though it hasn't given an exact figure.
Delta Air Lines Inc. said in March at the new Moon of March 7th at 17 Pisces 31 which squared progressed U.S. Uranus at 17 Gemini 03 in the 4th house (our home) that it would cut U.S. capacity about 10 percent in the second half of 2008. Northwest Airlines Corp., which Delta is buying, has announced smaller reductions, and a Northwest spokeswoman said further moves were being reviewed.
Philip Baggaley, an analyst with Standard & Poor's, said capacity cuts would help, but "we still forecast heavy losses for most airlines this year. "Fewer flights will inevitably lead to higher prices, most in the industry believe.
The biggest U.S. airlines have already raised fares about a dozen times since December, with some of the sharpest increases reserved for nonstop flights that let travelers avoid changing planes at crowded hub airports.
Airlines typically cut fares in the fall to spur ticket sales when kids are back in school and family vacations are over. That's likely to remain true this fall, even with Continental, American and United offering far fewer flights, experts say.
"They'll always discount for the fall even if they have less seats," said Rick Seaney, chief executive of price-watching Web site FareCompare.com. "But you're going to see more targeted restrictions, like minimum stay-overs, to prevent business travelers from getting cheap fares."
Airlines that had eliminated restrictions such as Saturday night stay-overs on cheap fares, because business customers hated them, have been putting them back in.
Fewer flights are also likely to reduce the ability of travelers to find a convenient flight where they're going. And airlines may drop service completely to some smaller cities.
Continental said it will announce next week which flights and destinations it will reduce or eliminate. The airline operates hubs in Houston, Newark, N.J., and Cleveland.
Fewer flights will mean fewer planes. Continental has already pulled six planes this year and mothball an additional 67 planes through 2009. By the end of June, its fleet will number 375.
Less than two months ago, Continental was in advanced talks to combine with United to create an airline even bigger than Delta-plus-Northwest. But Continental walked away from the deal in April as oil prices soared and the industry's outlook slumped, and analysts see no other mergers immediately on the horizon.
Another aspect manifesting in the U.S. chart is progressed Venus at 8 Leo 54 squaring natal and progressed Saturn at 8 degrees of Scorpio in the 8th house. The 6th house has to do with the military, and Leo refers to its leaders. The 8th house has to do with secretive matters, and Scorpio rules nuclear weapons. Saturn refers to a top authority. There has been an ongoing investigation of the Air Force and its operations for a long time now.
So adding the weight of the other Gemini influences, one having to do with civilian transportation, and the other, military, on the 3rd, transiting Mars was at 13 Leo in the U.S. 6th house and formed a T-square to the 3rd and 9th houses at that degree in Taurus and Scorpio.
An explosion was about to take place, and finally did on Thursday the 5th as transiting Venus came up to 14 Gemini to conjoin natal U.S. Uranus at that degree. It was then that Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted the Air Force's top military and civilian leaders, holding them to account in a historic Pentagon shake-up after embarrassing nuclear mix-ups.
Gates announced at a news conference that he had accepted the resignations of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne a highly unusual double (Gemini) firing.
Gates said his decision was based mainly on the damning conclusions of an internal report on the mistaken shipment to Taiwan of four Air Force electrical fuses for ballistic missile warheads. And he linked the underlying causes of that slip-up to another startling incident: (again, the duality) the flight last August of a B-52 bomber that was mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
The report drew the stunning conclusion that the Air Force's nuclear standards have been in a long decline, a "problem that has been identified but not effectively addressed for over a decade."
Gates said an internal investigation found a common theme in the B-52 and Taiwan incidents: "a decline in the Air Force's nuclear mission focus and performance" and a failure by Air Force leaders to respond effectively.
In a reflection of his concern about the state of nuclear security, Gates said he had asked a former defense secretary, James Schlesinger, to lead a task force that will recommend ways to ensure that the highest levels of accountability and control are maintained in Air Force handling of nuclear weapons.
In somber tones, Gates told reporters his decision to remove Wynne and Moseley was based on the findings of an investigation of the Taiwan debacle by Adm. Kirkland Donald. The admiral found a "lack of a critical self-assessment culture" in the Air Force nuclear program, making it unlikely that weaknesses in the way critical materials such as nuclear weapons are handled could be corrected, Gates said.
Gates said Donald concluded that many of the problems that led to the B-52 and the Taiwan sale incidents "have been known or should have been known."
The Donald report is classified; Gates provided an oral summary. "The Taiwan incident clearly was the trigger," Gates said when asked whether Moseley and Wynne would have retained their positions in the absence of the mistaken shipment of fuses. He also said that Donald found a "lack of effective Air Force leadership oversight" of its nuclear mission.
The investigation found a declining trend in Air Force nuclear expertise not the first time that has been raised as a problem, Gates said and a drifting of the Air Force's focus away from its nuclear mission, which includes stewardship of the land-based missile component of the nation's nuclear arsenal, as well as missiles and bombs assigned for nuclear missions aboard B-52 and B-2 long-range bombers.
Gates also announced that "a substantial number" of Air Force general officers and colonels were identified in the Donald report as potentially subject to disciplinary measures that range from removal from command to letters of reprimand. He said he would direct the yet-to-be-named successors to Wynne and Moseley to evaluate those identified culprits and decide what disciplinary actions are warranted "or whether they can be part of the solution" to the problems found by Donald."Secretary Gates' focus on accountability is essential and had been absent from the office of the secretary of defense for too long," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "The safety and security of America' nuclear weapons must receive the highest priority, just as it must in other countries."
Gates said he would make recommendations to Bush shortly on a new Air Force chief of staff and civilian secretary. Gates has settled on candidates for both jobs but has not yet formally recommended them, one official said.
information from http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080605/bs_nm/continental_dc
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