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American Airlines adds Curacao and Puerto Plata flights

Service is once a week (Saturday only) on a 124-seat Airbus A319 and begins on Dec. 19. Would presume that it will also be seasonal, with likely a couple month break in the fall.
This is part of a broader American Airlines expansion in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America.

Why this matters: Charlotte is US Airways’ primary hub the Caribbean. This involves daily flights to major beach markets (Cancun, Nassau, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan, Grand Cayman, Freeport, Aruba etc.) but also Saturday-only or Saturday-and Sunday service to smaller destinations like Belize, Cozumel, St. Croix, St. Kitts, Antigua, Liberia, and Barbados. US Airways’ service to the region has been pretty stagnant in recent years — the airline hasn’t successfully added a destination in the Caribbean from Charlotte in the past decade, so this is a significant vote of confidence, especially with American Airlines having a big hub in Miami, which is the best possible location for service to the region. The new American’s management essentially thinks Miami and Charlotte can play well together, with CLT providing complimentary service to the area.

Bonus thought: Charlotte already has a Saturday flight to Curacao on Insel Air, the national airline of the island. It’s unknown what impact American Airlines’ announcement will have on the Insel Air’s service. Insel Air is one of three foreign carriers that fly to Charlotte; the others are Air Canada and Lufthansa.

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Friday, not Tuesday

That’s when new music will now be released in the U.S., and much of the rest of the world. The idea is to reduce music piracy and king of standardize things, as release dates have varied between countries across the world.

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All about thermostats

Programmable thermostats are all the rage. One problem though: Many people that have them don’t know how to use them. The Washington Post reports about a University of California, Davis study of thermostats and thermostat usage:

Out of 192 people surveyed, 42 percent of respondents said their thermostats were programmable — rather than manual — but many did not seem to know how to use them. Fourteen percent of those claiming to have programmable thermostats said they “do not know where the settings are” while another 25 percent said they “know where the settings are but [they] do not know how to change them.”

The uploaded pictures — which were provided by 30 out of 192 research subjects, who were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk — documented more problems. “About one third of the thermostats were in ‘permanent hold’ mode; this mode interrupts all the programs and turns the programmable thermostat into a manual thermostat,” the authors noted. And for most of these people, no help was coming — a 70 percent majority of all respondents, and 67 percent of respondents who said they did not know how to program their thermostats, also did not know where the thermostat manual was.

Other problems, meanwhile, included thermostats whose time and date settings were way off — making it hard to program timed behavior — and multiple people in the home being involved in setting the thermostat.

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Charlotte City Council campaign update

So who’s running at large for Charlotte City Council? Well, as the Charlotte Observer reports, lots and lots of Democrats — at least 10. And on the Republican side, you have two people signed up when there are four at-large seats. In other words, we’re deep into the Republican political death cycle in Charlotte — Republicans have had a very hard time winning city-wide recently, which now makes candidate recruitment a problem, and without enough good candidates, it’s hard to win or even keep it close… which makes finding good candidates even more difficult.

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Will Charlotte continue to offer benefits to unmarried partners of gay or lesbian employees?

Now that same-sex marriage is legal, the city of Charlotte is considering no longer offering benefits to the unmarried same-sex domestic partners of gay or lesbian city employees.

The underlying context here is important: Richard Florida and his concept of the “creative class.” Florida claims that those cities that can attract young adults in “creative” fields will prosper, those cities that can’t will stagnate. Among the things that creative types are suppose to like are places that are diverse… which Florida defines by a “Gay Index.” Unsurprisingly, many people in the LGBT community really, really, really like this theory, because it proclaims them the key to it all. And many local government types really, really, really like this theory too because it gives them a justification to spend money on certain types of economic development projects and not worry too much about how much it costs. Put it together and you get this:

Scott Bishop of MeckPAC, a lobbying group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, said he thinks the city should offer benefits to domestic partners of both same-sex and opposite-sex partners.

“It depends on how inclusive they want to be,” he said. “If they want to remain competitive in hiring, they ought to extend domestic partner benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples.”

Competitive against whom? In the Creative Class construct that Bishop seems to be embracing, the answer would be the entire world for Creative Class talent. But is that really the case? Relatively few private employers extend benefits to unmarried cohabitating heterosexual couples and most that do aren’t looking for the same sort of skill sets that the city of Charlotte typically is hiring. (How many garbage truck drivers and firemen are on Wells Fargo’s payroll?) There is, of course, a cost to taxpayers to extending benefits to unmarried straight couples, and there would presumably be a lot more of them than the 17 or so same-sex partners that are currently enrolled for benefits. And that cost will just keep going up, as health insurance costs continue to skyrocket. Such costs though are pretty much irrelevant in a Creative Class framework… as are logic and basic economics.

One of the best criticism of Creative Class comes from the Left, and describes Florida’s Theory as little more than Trickle Down Economics: that it amounts to saying that we must pander to elites in order to help the less fortunate. So yes, I’ll dare to say it: MeckPac represents an elite seeking government largesse, under the theory that their receiving a bit of pork is good for the rest of us…

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American Airlines updates its fleet plan

And no, this isn’t a positive development.

As of January: “In 2015, the Company expects to take delivery of 74 mainline aircraft including 7 A319 aircraft, 35 A321 aircraft, 18 737-800 aircraft, 2 777-300ER aircraft, and 12 787-8 aircraft. In addition, the Company expects to retire 104 aircraft, including 9 A320 aircraft, 37 757 aircraft, 6 767-200 aircraft, 9 767-300 aircraft and 43 MD80s by the end of 2015.” And “in 2015, the Company expects to increase its regional fleet size by 21 CRJ900 aircraft and 29 E175 aircraft. The Company expects to remove and park 21 ERJ140 aircraft and retire 1 Dash 8-100 aircraft.”

In its update released today, American said that it taking an extra Boeing 787 this year — but also is retiring an additional 4 767-300s, 8 757s, an Airbus A320 and 9 CRJ200 50-seat regional jets by Dec. 31. And then there’s this: “The Company recently amended its delivery agreement with Boeing to defer four 787 aircraft from 2016 to 2017 and one 787 aircraft from 2016 to 2018. In addition, the Company also amended its delivery agreement with Airbus to defer 10 A320neo family aircraft from 2017 and 25 Airbus A320neo family aircraft from 2018 to years 2021 through 2023.”

The company hasn’t released a fleet plan for 2016 yet. The message a of today though is pretty clear: Less flights this fall and through at least 2018 than we had previously expected.

The most interesting element are the additional 767 retirements and deferrals of the 787 that are replacing them. This comes in response to the not-so-great numbers to Europe and South America that the airline has posted so far this year. Fewer widebodies could easily translate to fewer flights from Charlotte to Europe next year. The 767-300s and 787s are American Airlines aircraft; US Airways currently has 24 widebody jets, and they are all Airbus A330s. If after the US Airways brand goes away in October, American continues to use those 24 jets just for flights to Europe from Philly and Charlotte, then the impact here may be relatively minor. If American starts using them from other hubs, it would be a bad sign indeed.

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Donald Trump tops N.C. GOP poll

Does this mean that we can look forward to Celebrity Apprentice: Vice President coming to your favorite new channel or channels in the near future?

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Jackalope Jacks/P-Stone site to be redeveloped

Does this come as a surprise? No. The Charlotte reality circa 2015 is that old small commercial buildings in less than great condition in desirable neighborhoods are likely to be redevelopment into apartment complexes. And, in the case of the lot on which Jackalope Jacks and what use to be the P-Stone sit, the property was almost turned into apartments a couple of years ago.

Will the city end up with too many apartments a couple of years from now? Probably.

Will there be some opposition to tearing down Jackalope Jacks and the now dog bar in what use to be the P-Stone? Yes. Will it come from influential people that live nearby? Absolutely not, as those bars on Seventh Street were a motivation for a lot of counterproductive proposals to limit nightlife and live music in Charlotte. How having less nightlife near Eastover impacts the discussion on live music and the like going forward remains to be seen.

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1979 Outlaws clubhouse murders solved

If you lived in Charlotte at the time, you’ll likely remember the July 4, 1979 murders of five people at the Outlaws motorcycle gang clubhouse in northeast Mecklenburg County. The crime was never solved. Until now. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department today identified Gregory Scott Lindaman and Randy Allen Pigg as the persons they believe were responsible for the killings. There will be no trials, as both are now dead.

The Charlotte Observer provides some additional details here.

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New arena shakedown of the moment

The Milwaukee Bucks have new owners and want a new arena. The details, per Deadspin:

The poison pill in the Bucks’ $550 million sale to billionaire hedge fund managers Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, and Jamie Dinan was in the “guarantee” that the team wouldn’t move. At the league level, the NBA was committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee if and only if the new owners would build a new arena to replace the 27-year-old Bradley Center. If construction doesn’t begin in 2015, according to that quiet provision of the sale, the NBA will buy back the team and relocate it.

The owners wouldn’t mind staying in Milwaukee, but they really don’t want to pay for their new arena themselves. After months of wrangling with politicians, they’ve hit upon a take-it-or-leave it deal that would see the state, city, county cover half the costs of the $500 million arena, including $93 million in bonds that would accrue interest for 13 years before they would even start to be paid off.


One legislator has repeatedly raised the idea of a referendum, where taxpayers would get to vote on whether hundreds of millions of their tax dollars should go toward making a private company more profitable. Those supporting the arena deal insist that this decision doesn’t belong in the hands of the public.

Could something like this happen in Charlotte down the road? Absolutely.

H/t: JAT

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August 2015
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