In domestic route news, United kicks off service in several new markets; Delta adds a Seattle spoke, and schedules a one-off 747 flight; Virgin America deploys more A321neos; Southwest’s new 737 MAXs will take to the skies this fall; and Frontier drops a San Francisco route.
Those new domestic routes that United announced last winter started operations last week. From San Francisco, United has added new daily service to Cincinnati, Detroit and Hartford Bradley, as well as three short hops (65 miles) a day to Santa Rosa, California. New service from United’s Chicago O’Hare hub includes three flights a day to Rochester, Minn., and three to Champaign/Urbana, Ill., as well as daily service to Spokane, Reno, and Charlottesville, Va. Other new routes include twice-daily flights from Washington Dulles to Springfield, Mo.; daily service between Newark-Sacramento; and daily flights from Denver to San Luis Obispo, Calif.
United has also extended some formerly seasonal routes to year-round operation, including San Francisco-New Orleans, Chicago-Tucson, Washington Dulles-Ft. Lauderdale, Newark-Salt Lake City and Denver-Kona.
On June 12, Delta added another spoke from its growing Seattle hub. The carrier started a daily A319 roundtrip between Seattle and Austin-Bergstrom International in Texas. Delta apparently sees Austin as a growth market; three months ago, it started flying to Raleigh-Durham as its seventh route from Austin, and in September it plans to add flights from Austin to Boston.
Speaking of Delta, we noticed a scheduling anomaly in Routesonline.com that might be of interest to readers who want to get in a convenient final 747 flight before those jumbos disappear from U.S. carriers’ fleets. Delta has reportedly scheduled a one-way, one-time 747-400 flight from Los Angeles to Detroit. It is due to lift off from LAX on September 5. NOTE: We found the Tuesday/Wednesday red-eye 747 flight DL1352 available on Delta.com for $317 one way. Ready to go?
If old planes aren’t your thing, how about new ones? We reported earlier that Virgin America started flying its first Airbus A321neo at the end of May on one daily San Francisco-Washington Reagan National flight, and it did the same this week on one daily SFO-New York JFK flight (VX022/29). Now Routesonlone.com reports that Virgin will put one of the new planes onto one daily San Francisco-Honolulu flight starting August 27, and one daily LAX-Newark flight as of October 15. The A321neo (which stands for New Engine Option) is the largest aircraft in Virgin’s fleet, with 185 seats, vs. 146-149 for its A320s; it has ordered 10 of them.
Another airline with a new aircraft model coming online is Southwest, which is the U.S. launch customer for Boeing’s fuel-efficient 737MAX 8. Southwest has ordered 170 of the new planes, which will have the same number of seats at Southwest’s 737-800s (175), but they’re quieter, 14 percent more fuel-efficient and can fly 500 nautical miles farther. Southwest is putting them into service on scores of U.S. routes this fall and winter; you can look here to see the full roster of 737MAX 8 routes.
Frontier Airlines, which operates one daily flight between San Francisco and Houston Bush Intercontinental, will eliminate that service effective July 14.