Marketplace - American Public Media

PODCAST: AirTran gets grounded

Wed, 2014-12-31 03:00

The perils of predicting interest rates on New Year's Eve. And more than marking the new year, tonight will also be the most expensive night to take an Uber. More on that. Plus, for nearly two decades, AirTran Airways has been the "scrappy" airline. It consistently did more with less, kept airfares in check, and thrived even when other airlines went bankrupt. AirTran flew for the final time Sunday night. It's been a slow process merging with Southwest Airlines; almost five years now. So what will Southwest do to keep the AirTran-spirit alive?

PODCAST: AirTrans gets grounded

Wed, 2014-12-31 03:00

The perils of predicting interest rates on New Year's Eve. And more than marking the new year, tonight will also be the most expensive night to take an Uber. More on that. Plus, for nearly two decades, AirTran Airways has been the "scrappy" airline. It consistently did more with less, kept airfares in check, and thrived even when other airlines went bankrupt. AirTran flew for the final time Sunday night. It's been a slow process merging with Southwest Airlines; almost five years now. So what will Southwest do to keep the AirTranspirit alive?

AirTran Folds its wings

Wed, 2014-12-31 02:02

It’s taken nearly four years, but Southwest Airlines Sunday completed its $1.4-billion acquisition of AirTran Airways with one last flight.

Cheers erupted as AirTran’s Boeing 717 took off Sunday from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport bound for Tampa. AirTran Flight 1 was long sold out, and more than 800 hopeful travelers added their names to the standby list. 

Southwest’s Bob Jordan has been running AirTran’s operations for the past few years.  Over a scratchy PA system, he thanked AirTran’s employees. 

“This is awesome. It’s a fantastic way to commemorate this last flight, and a fantastic way to move forward as one awesome company,” he said. 

The journey traced ValuJet’s 1993 inaugural flight. After a deadly crash in the Florida Everglades in 1998, ValuJet struggled to survive. It eventually re-emerged as AirTran. 

Trish Krider worked as a flight attendant under both names. She says AirTran’s final moment is a proud one. 

“The fact we fought from ValuJet all the way to where we are, to be a company that Southwest wanted to own, is just the most amazing, amazing experience,” Krider said after the flight landed in Tampa. 

By airline standards, Southwest’s merger with AirTran was smooth. For one thing, there were no layoffs. 

AirTran flight attendant Tana Thomas says the airlines’ family-like corporate cultures were a lot alike. And that helped. 

“I see their scrappiness being one and the same,” she said. “It’s like they’re on full-throttle.” 

The merger allowed Southwest access to key markets, like Washington-National and Atlanta. The merger also opened up international routes for the first time. 

And although it’s been a long merger, it’s proving to be a profitable one. Air Transport World just named Southwest its airline of the year. And the Dallas-based carrier’s stock was the year’s best performer on the S&P 500.

Catching an Uber on New Year's Eve? It'll cost you.

Wed, 2014-12-31 02:00

Uber expects to be busy New Year's Eve, and its policy of raising rates when demand is high, or surge pricing, is economics 101. Low demand leads to lower prices. Higher demand means a company can jack up prices and customers will still pay.

Defenders of the surge pricing policy say Uber is transparent, warning riders that getting from point A to point B will cost them more. Still, the concept is a new one for many people,so even if there's no trickery involved, there's still likely to be pushback from frustrated users whocan't understand why their car delivery service raises prices, right when they most need a ride.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Uber surges for New Year's Eve

Wed, 2014-12-31 02:00

Uber expects to be busy New Year's Eve, and its policy of raising rates when demand is high, or surge pricing, is economics 101. Low demand leads to lower prices. Higher demand means a company can jack up prices and customers will still pay.

Defenders of the surge pricing policy say Uber is transparent, warning riders that getting from point A to point B will cost them more. Still, the concept is a new one for many people, and so even if there's no trickery involved, there's still likely to be pushback from frustrated users who just can't understand why their car delivery service raises prices, right when they most need a ride.

Click the media player above to hear more.

American Apparel closes a challenging year

Wed, 2014-12-31 02:00

American Apparel once stood for some combination of sexy, creepy, and made-in-the-USA. But after a year of flat sales, the company is making some changes, at least at the top. As of January 5, the company will have a new CEO, as its infamous self-proclaimed "dirty guy" was fired after a long string of harassment allegations (and flat sales). And now hedge fund Lion Capital is reportedly pushing the company to find a new owner. But can a change at the top alter the brand's bottom line? 

Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, says it faces new competition in the "fashionable basics" category. And Jennifer Black, CEO of Jennifer Black & Associates, says to succeed in this new environment will take both low prices and to nail the next fashion trend.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Doing the numbers on New Years Eve

Wed, 2014-12-31 01:30
11,875 pounds

The weight of the ball set to drop in Times Square at midnight. This year's time ball is decorated with 32,256 light bulbs, compared to 100 on the first ball to drop in New York back in 1907.

3,000 pounds

Speaking of Times Square, that's how much confetti will be thrown out when that ball drops.

19

That's how many cities allow public drinking in some fashion, including New Orleans; Lincoln, Nebraska; Las Vegas and Erie, Pennsylvania. The Huffington Post has a map and a history of public drinking laws in the U.S.

Courtesy:Huffington Post 50x

That's Uber's maximum surge pricing multiplier. It's a ceiling they've never actually hit, save for one experiment in Sweden. Still, the car service expects Wednesday night to be among its busiest ever, and the company advises requesting a ride before midnight or after 2:30 a.m. to avoid peak rates.

71.2 percent

The portion of Jawbone Up fitness tracker users who are awake at midnight on New Year's, lower than most other countries with a high number of Up users.

$7.3 billion

That's how much ESPN is paying to broadcast seven college football playoff games a year over 12 years. The first in 2015 is the Rose Bowl, starting at 5 p.m. Thursday. 

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