In international route news, Virgin Atlantic starts a pair of west coast routes; Delta resumes a transatlantic route and adds a South American one; Iceland’s WOW brings its low-fare service to the Midwest; American puts a new cabin class on sale; Emirates scales back at LAX but British Airways grows there; United starts two seasonal routes to Rome; Finnair drops a U.S. gateway; and Copa doubles down at O’Hare.
Virgin Atlantic Airways this week kicked off its new service to Seattle, using a 787-9 for its daily flights to London Heathrow. Virgin’s operations in the U.S. are closely coordinated with joint venture partner Delta, and Virgin’s new Seattle service replaces Delta’s daily flight to London. Delta was using a 767, so Virgin’s 787-9 increases capacity on the route by 50 seats a day. Also this week, Virgin Atlantic introduced new seasonal service from San Francisco International to Manchester, using an A330-300. That route operates three days a week (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday). It’s the only SFO-Manchester non-stop service, but it won’t be for long: On May 14, U.K. leisure carrier Thomas Cook Airlines will begin two flights a week with an A330-200. All this is in addition to British Airways four daily nonstops from the Bay Area to London!
Delta will expand its South America reach later this year with new daily service between New York JFK and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, slated to launch December 21. Using a 210-passenger 767-300 with Delta One flatbed seats, Delta will offer onward connections at Rio to 23 Brazilian destinations thanks to its Brazilian partner GOL. Meanwhile, Delta this week resumed service on the Atlanta-Brussels route, flying five times a week (increasing to daily during summer) with a 767-400. Delta had suspended the route a year ago after the Brussels terror attacks, although it maintained daily flights to Brussels from JFK.
On July 13, Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW will add another U.S. gateway, starting service four days a week to Reykjavik from Chicago O’Hare. The carrier said it is offering one-way base fares starting as low as $99 (plus extras) from ORD to Iceland, or $149 for connections to major European capitals. The flights will operate Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays using an A321-300 with 30-inch seat pitch (or 34 inches for an additional fee).
American Airlines’ new international premium economy seats, currently available on a few routes out of Dallas/Ft. Worth, have been used for upgrades during their rollout. But now the airline is putting the new cabin category on sale for travel beginning May 4. AA’s premium economy class is on its new 787-9s from DFW to Paris, Madrid, Sao Paulo and Seoul. Seats are 19 inches wide with 38 inches of pitch (vs. 33-34 inches in Main Cabin Extra) in a 2-3-2 layout.
Is that U.S. laptop ban starting to hurt business for the big Middle Eastern carriers? Routesonline.com reports that Emirates is “temporarily adjusting” its schedule between Los Angeles and Dubai, cutting service from two flights a day to one from May 1 through June 30.
But Routesonline.com says that British Airways is planning an increased schedule from LAX to London Heathrow, bringing on a third daily flight effective October 29. The additional frequency will use a 787-9. On the same date, BA will boost its New Orleans-LHR schedule from four flights a week to five. Meanwhile, BA this week introduced its biggest bird – the 469-passenger A380-800 – into the aircraft mix on its Boston-London route, where the giant jet operates Mondays and Fridays.
United’s seasonal international schedule adjustments start to kick in next week. On April 4, the carrier will begin seasonal service from Newark to Rome and from Washington Dulles to Rome, both using 767s. The Newark flights continue through November 8, while the Dulles schedule is in place through October 27. Also on April 4, United will lay on extra frequencies from Newark to Paris, Dublin and London.
Trying to get from Miami to Helsinki this summer? Forget Finnair, which is suspending service on that route from May 1 through September 30, according to Routesonline.com. The Finnish carrier is also cutting back Chicago-Helsinki frequencies from five flights a week to three.
Panama’s Copa Airlines is doubling its service from Chicago O’Hare to Panama City effective June 1, when it will supplement its existing daily morning departure with a midafternoon flight out of ORD. Copa has onward service from its Panama City hub to 50 destinations in Latin America.
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