In international route news, Qatar Airways will add San Francisco service and delay Las Vegas; United plans changes to 787 schedules at SFO in 2018; Delta’s code goes onto a long-haul Air France route; Copa adds a new U.S. gateway; American will suspend its Auckland route for a while; Virgin Atlantic trims an Atlanta route; Spirit gives up a Caribbean destination; and United and American start up several seasonal Europe routes this week.
Laptop ban or no laptop ban, Qatar Airways plans to add service to another new U.S. destination next year: San Francisco. Company officials said at a travel show in Dubai last week that Qatar plans to bring a dozen new destinations onto its route map in 2018, including SFO – although it did not say exactly when the flights would start or what type of aircraft it would use. SFO tells TravelSkills that the service will be daily and could start in the second quarter of 2018 using a Boeing 777. Meanwhile, Qatar’s previously announced plan to start flying to Las Vegas on January 8 of next year has been pushed back to sometime in the second quarter. Qatar plans to fly the LAS-Doha route four times a week with a 777-200LR. Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld Alliance.
United will make some changes in its 787 schedules at San Francisco next year, according to Routesonline.com. The carrier plans to deploy 787-9 Dreamliners on its daily flights from SFO to Seoul on March 18 and to Taipei on May 4, 2018, replacing 777-200ERs on both routes. At the same time, 787-9s will replace 787-8s on the SFO-Munich route May 4, 2018 and on the SFO-Chengdu, China route May 2. Also on March 24, United will switch from a 787-9 to a 787-8 on its Washington Dulles-London Heathrow route.
Delta last week gave its customers a new way to get to Singapore. In an expansion of code-sharing with joint venture partner Air France, Delta started putting its code onto Air France’s daily Paris CDG-Singapore flight. Meanwhile, Air France added new code-shares with Singapore Airlines, putting its code onto the latter’s flights beyond Singapore to Melbourne and Sydney, and on sister carrier SilkAir’s service to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Phuket.
Panama’s Copa Airlines has set a December 11 start for new service between Denver and Panama City, which will be its thirteenth U.S. gateway. The carrier plans to fly the route four times a week with a 737-800.
Going to New Zealand later this year? American Airlines filed plans to suspend its Los Angeles-Auckland service for a while – specifically, from August 5 to October 4. When the flight resumes on October 5, it will use a 787-9 instead of the current 787-8. In another service cutback, Delta partner Virgin Atlantic will trim its Atlanta-Manchester schedule this winter. From October 29 through March 24, Virgin will fly the route three times a week instead of daily. And Spirit Airlines is giving up the ghost on Cuba: The carrier will terminate its Ft. Lauderdale-Havana flights effective May 31, citing weak demand.
It’s time for major carriers to start up their seasonal summer routes to Europe, and both United and American will launch a bunch of them this week. On May 5, United will kick off seasonal service from its Newark hub to Edinburgh, Venice, Stockholm and Hamburg; from Washington Dulles to Lisbon and Madrid; and from Chicago O’Hare to Rome and Dublin. Also on May 5, American Airlines will begin seasonal flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Amsterdam and Rome; and from Chicago O’Hare to Barcelona.