In international route developments, United will start using high-density 777s on some Europe routes; Delta aims to make things smoother for transborder flyers with a new partnership; Qantas kicks off its 787-9 service to LAX next week; Air China begins a new LAX route; Air Canada adds another Australian destination; and Aeromexico tacks on an Atlanta route.
Travel to Europe for some United Airlines passengers is going to get more crowded next year as the airline starts to deploy high-density 777-200s on a few routes out of its Newark hub. The aircraft in question are normally used on domestic routes. According to Airlineroutes.com, United will put the 777s into service between Newark and Barcelona April 23, Newark-Dublin March 10 and Newark-Madrid May 23. (Low-fare Norwegian started EWR-Barcelona flights last summer, and British Airways/Iberia sister company Level plans to begin cheap flights from Boston to Barcelona next spring.)
United has four configurations for its 777-200s, according to Seatguru.com. The three versions previously designated for international routes have 266 to 269 total seats, while the high-density aircraft have 364 (234 economy, 102 Economy Plus and 50 Polaris business class). They manage this difference thanks in part to 10-across seating in economy and Economy Plus instead of the nine-across in the other versions.
As if Delta didn’t have enough joint venture partnerships already (Virgin Atlantic, Air France-KLM, Aeromexico, and a new one recently approved with Korean Air), it’s now planning yet another. The carrier said it has entered into a preliminary memorandum of understanding with Canada’s WestJet to form a new joint venture for transborder service. Joint ventures also imply antitrust immunity, meaning the two carriers would be able to cooperate on pricing and scheduling.
Delta says the JV with WestJet will mean “coordinated flight schedules for new nonstop flights to new destinations, expanded codesharing, and seamless and convenient connections on the airlines’ extensive networks in the U.S. and Canada,” along with “enhanced frequent flyer benefits including reciprocal benefits for top-tier members of both airlines.”
December 15 is the scheduled starting date for Qantas to put a brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner into service on its Melbourne-Los Angeles route. It’s the first route for the new Qantas aircraft, and it will replace an Airbus A380. Next March, Qantas will use a new 787-9 to begin the first non-stops between Australia and Europe, on a London-Perth routing. The Qantas 787-9s will have 42 business class seats configured 1-2-1; 28 in premium economy, with a 2-3-2 layout; and 166 in economy, configured 3-3-3 and offering 32-inch pitch.
Speaking of Australia, Air Canada just added its third route to that country, beginning service this week between Vancouver and Melbourne. The carrier uses a 787-9 for the 16-hour flight. Air Canada already flies from Vancouver to Sydney with a 777-200LR, and last summer it began Vancouver-Brisbane service with a 787.
Another new transpacific route that just started this week is Air China’s service between Los Angeles and Shenzhen, a tech-heavy city in China’s Guangdong Province. Air China will use a three-class 787-9 to fly the route three times a week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday), with a 10:50 p.m. departure from LAX. Air China also has three daily flights from LAX to Beijing.
Delta’s joint venture partner Aeromexico has started flying a new route from Delta’s Atlanta hub. The carrier kicked off daily service between ATL and Merida, using a 99-passenger Embraer 190 with business class and regular economy seating.