In international route developments, Norwegian and British Airways begin new Oakland flights; Alaska inks a frequent flyer partnership with a European carrier; China Eastern adds a U.S. route; KLM returns to Minneapolis; Air Canada begins a new transcontinental link from Vancouver; and Volaris starts Houston service.
It will be a busy time at Oakland International next week, with two new transatlantic services coming to the Bay Area airport. March 28 is the launch date for Norwegian’s newest low-cost transatlantic route, linking Oakland with Copenhagen twice a week, using a 787-8. And on the same date, British Airways will kick off new daily flights linking Oakland with London Gatwick – a route served since last year by Norwegian. The new BA flights out of OAK will operate four days a week, using a 777-200ER with business, premium economy and regular economy seating. BA already flies to London from San Francisco and San Jose – but to Heathrow, not Gatwick. Meanwhile, BA will also begin new service on March 27 between New Orleans and London Heathrow, offering 787-8 flights four days a week.
Speaking of Oakland, the new carrier LEVEL, which announced new nonstops to Barcelona for just $149 each way bragged on Twitter this week that it sold 52,000 tickets in a single day:
On our second day of “Life” Hello world! 🌍 Yesterday we hit record sales: 52,000 tickets sold. Wow!
— LEVEL_en (@flywithlevelEN) March 18, 2017
Alaska Airlines has added another European carrier as a partner in its Mileage Plan frequent flyer program. The new partner is Condor, a leisure-oriented subsidiary of Thomas Cook that is based in Germany. The two carriers already had an interline agreement, but now passengers will be able to earn and spend Mileage Plan miles on Condor as well. Alaska passengers can link up with transatlantic Condor flights to Frankfurt at Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas, Portland, Anchorage and Fairbanks; in June, Condor will add Seattle-Munich flights.
Mileage Plan members can start earning elite-qualifying miles on Condor flights now (and so can Virgin America Elevate members who have a Mileage Plan account number). Award travel redemption “will begin at a later date,” Alaska said. Condor, which uses three-class 767-300ERs on its transatlantic routes, is expanding its North America network this year to a total of 16 cities, mostly served a couple of times a week. The airline primarily serves vacationers, but offers a nice (but non-lie-flat) business class, reviewed here.
China Eastern Airlines has its eye on new U.S. service linking Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport with Shanghai Pudong, according to a report in Air Transport World, an aviation industry journal. China Eastern, a member of Delta’s SkyTeam global alliance, reportedly hopes to begin the service in June or July. The only other non-stop service between Houston and China is an Air China route from Houston to Beijing.
KLM set a March 27 start for seasonal service between Minneapolis-St. Paul and its Amsterdam Schiphol hub – a route it hasn’t flown since 2001. The Dutch carrier will fly the route three days a week, continuing through October. KLM’s SkyTeam partner Delta, which has a hub at MSP, already offers service to AMS up to three times a da
On June 23, Air Canada will introduce new seasonal service linking Vancouver with Boston, continuing through September 4. The carrier will offer one daily roundtrip using a two-class A319. The Canadian carrier will also resume Montreal-Washington Dulles daily service starting June 19, using a 50-passenger CRJ-100; Air Canada already flies between Montreal and Washington Reagan National.
Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris has started up new service between Houston Bush Intercontinental and Mexico City, operating four days a week. Volaris already flies from Houston to Guadalajara.