In domestic route developments, Delta and JetBlue both announce more service out of Boston; United expands Basic Economy to more routes; Virgin America starts flying new A321neos; Alaska adds a pair of Seattle markets; Southwest adds service at Sacramento; and American grows at Santa Rosa and Charlotte.
Boston travelers are the beneficiaries of an ongoing battle for market share between Delta and JetBlue. In the latest round, Delta unveiled new or expanded service on several BOS routes, in addition to its previously announced plans to start Boston-San Francisco flights on June 8. The carrier said its summer schedule this year will include new mainline service from Boston to Austin, along with new Delta Connection flights to Kansas City, Jacksonville, Buffalo and Norfolk. And on September 10, Delta will add a second daily roundtrip between Boston and Nashville.
And there’s more to come next winter: Delta said effective December 21, its Boston-West Palm Beach and BOS-Ft. Myers service will increase from weekend-only to daily, and Boston-Ft. Lauderdale will increase from weekends-only to twice-daily. The expanded schedule will give Delta 12 new destinations out of Boston since November of last year.
A few days later, JetBlue announced its own expansion plans for Boston-Florida routes, including the addition of one more seasonal daily roundtrip from Boston to Jacksonville, to Palm Beach and to Ft. Myers. JetBlue had already announced that it will lay on a fourth daily Boston-Los Angeles Mint roundtrip in October, and will start Boston-San Diego Mint service in December. At Ft. Lauderdale, meanwhile, JetBlue said it will begin a daily roundtrip to Salt Lake City beginning November 16.
Speaking of Delta, we noticed a couple of unusual entries on Routesonline.com, which tracks all airlines’ filings of new routes and service changes. Routesonline said Delta plans to put a 757-200 with flat-bed Delta One seats into service on one of its daily Boston-Minneapolis flights starting January 3 of next year. And from this month through October, Delta will use the same aircraft on one of its three daily New York JFK-Philadelphia flights; the other two still use Endeavor Air regional jets. Are these domestic legs of international flights? Any ideas, readers?
When United started offering bare-bones Basic Economy fares earlier this year, it did so mainly on routes between Minneapolis-St. Paul and its major hubs. But now United has started selling the ultra-low, no-frills fares in more than 100 domestic markets, mainly from its hubs to leisure destinations and to other hubs, for travel beginning May 9. That includes routes like Newark-Orlando, Chicago-Denver, Washington Dulles-Orlando, Denver-Houston, San Francisco-Orlando and Chicago-Ft. Lauderdale. We’ve even heard they are in markets without ultra-low-cost-carriers such as LAX-SFO.
Although it’s now technically part of Alaska Airlines Group, Virgin America remains a separate brand and operating unit with its own new aircraft deliveries. And over the next several weeks, Virgin will put its newest aircraft type into service – the Airbus A321neo. (The neo stands for New Engine Option.) The company said the new A321neos – it has ordered 10 of them – will have 185 seats. That will make it the largest in Virgin’s fleet; its current A320s have 146-149 seats, while its A319s have 119. The first A321neo will go into service May 31 between San Francisco and Washington Reagan National, and the second will start flying June 14 between SFO and New York JFK.
Speaking of Alaska Airlines, it recently started service on a pair of new routes out of its Seattle hub. That includes one daily roundtrip from Seattle to San Luis Obispo and one between Seattle and Wichita. Both routes are operated by SkyWest with 76-seat, three-class E175s.
Southwest Airlines is growing at Sacramento. Besides new twice-daily flights between Sacramento and Long Beach starting August 1, the airline will also start daily Sacramento-Spokane service on the same date. And on June 5, Southwest will add more frequencies in two other markets, boosting its Sacramento-Seattle schedule to as many as six flights a day, and increasing Sacramento-San Diego to as many as 11 a day.
American Airlines’ new service (started in February) between its Phoenix hub and Sonoma County, California’s Charles Schulz Airport in Santa Rosa has been filling up fast, so the carrier plans to add a second daily flight in the market starting July 5. The Santa Rosa flights use American Eagle 70-seat, two-class CRJ-700s. Elsewhere, American plans to add two new American Eagle routes out of its Charlotte hub on August 22, with two flights a day to Shreveport, La., and two a day to Toledo, Ohio. Both will use CRJ-200s operated by PSA Airlines.