At first, flying gave great service but was expensive. Then the service became bad but at least it was cheap. Now the service is getting worse and more expensive. You gotta love deregulation! All that and more in The Morning Shift for Wednesday, November 17, 2021.
Today’s emblematic headline of increased deregulation and decreased quality is the Wall Street Journal’s “Airlines Are Rewriting the Rules on Frequent-Flier Programs—Again” detailing how there’s nothing on the books that says frequent-flyer programs have to be good, or fair, or even about flying frequently. From the WSJ:
Those who are true frequent fliers will get some added benefits, and business travelers who aren’t taking as many trips will be able to boost their status with their spending. Small-business owners and others who use their credit cards a lot now can be a top dog at American before they ever lift the buckle on a seat belt.
Who stands to lose? Fliers who qualify only by flying long distances on cheap tickets. Spending requirements and credit-card use become even more important.
Loyalty programs have long been geared toward business travelers who typically pay higher fares and room rates than leisure travelers. Status tiers with special perks like upgrades and priority lines drive loyalty now for business travelers.
We deregulated air travel in 1978 and already by the mid-80s people had figured out that we’d end up with cartel-like conditions, where airlines can all get together to make the product as shitty and expensive as they please.
This is just one of those things that gets forever worse and never better, right?
If you were actually holding out any hope that the Biden Administration would become the global leader in climate like it said it wanted to be, I have bad news from the Boston Globe:
The Biden administration has pledged to make climate change a top priority. But on Wednesday morning, it is holding the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history. Wait, what?
The auction, which is set to begin at 10 AM Eastern Time and will be live-streamed from New Orleans, will open over 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for fossil fuel drilling. That’s an area larger than the entirety of New Mexico.
Wednesday’s sale will be the first one held under Biden, but it’s part of an oil and gas program first developed and approved under Trump.
The sale comes just days after the conclusion of the international climate talks in Glasgow, known as COP26, where White House officials attempted to position the nation as a climate leader and distinguish themselves from the Trump administration.
Until the economic conditions of polluting the world change, don’t expect to see us get anywhere.
Almost a quarter million Rams will have to go back to the dealer over a fuel pump issue, as Automotive News reports:
The affected vehicles are certain 2019 and 2020 Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups and Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cab trucks that are equipped with 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engines. The recall covers an estimated 222,410 vehicles in the U.S., 20,539 in Canada and 3,525 in other markets outside of North America.
The high-pressure fuel pumps on the affected vehicles may be subject to “inadvertent wear that may contaminate their mechanisms with metal shavings,” which could result in a vehicle stall or loss of power, Stellantis said in a statement Wednesday.
The dealer will just replace the bad fuel pump, update the control module software, and fix anything else broken in the fuel system.
I am not surprised by this one given Tesla’s record with racist working conditions, but you have to wonder what the math is here. Tesla is on the hook for $137 million, but what else does it lose in public opinion fighting the case?
Tesla Inc. asked a judge to set aside a “staggering” $137 million verdict in favor of a contract worker who accused the company of failing to protect him from rampant racism in its northern California factory and order a new trial.
The Oct. 4 award to Owen Diaz by jurors in San Francisco federal court is believed to be one of the largest in U.S. history for an individual plaintiff in a racial discrimination case.
Tesla said in a filing at a U.S. District Court in San Francisco that while the jury believed Tesla “could and should have done more to root out alleged racism at the factory,” the award “simply cannot stand.”
This argument has about as much depth as “because I don’t want to.”
Yesterday we reported on Rivian’s stock valuation approaching that of VW. That overtake has come to pass, per the Financial Times:
The electric vehicle company Rivian has overtaken Volkswagen in market value, while rival start-up Lucid surpassed Ford, as shares in their largely unproven businesses continued to soar following their recent stock market listings.
The market capitalisation of Rivian, a pick-up truck and van group backed by Amazon and Ford, rose above VW after its stock increased 15 per cent to close at $172 on Tuesday. Rivian’s value has doubled to $153bn since floating only on November 10.
VW, the world’s largest carmaker, generated €9.7bn in net profit last year and sold 9.3m cars globally. Rivian, founded in 2009, has no meaningful revenue.
Meanwhile Lucid has also passed Ford, per the WSJ:
Stock in Lucid, a maker of high-end electric cars, jumped nearly 24% Tuesday to close at $55.52 a share, following the Monday release of its first financial results as a public company. The rally pushed the company’s valuation to $89.3 billion, surpassing that of Ford for the first time since Lucid’s debut on the public markets over the summer.
Lucid also edged closer to General Motors Co. , which at Tuesday’s close was worth about $91 billion.
Jalopnik’s position is that you shouldn’t take any of this all that seriously. The margins are close and the stock price could drop today and all the sudden they aren’t worth as much.
All of the summer plants have been cut and pulled and I’m wondering if I should plant some bulbs out back or what.