In recent international route developments, Aeromexico will add seasonal service at San Jose; Southwest drops plans for two Mexico markets; Air New Zealand brings a new aircraft to Houston; British Airways adds high-density 777 flights to Gatwick; United and Delta drop Europe flights while KLM adds one; American plans new code-shares to and within China; Etihad trims its Los Angeles schedule and terminates San Francisco service; and LATAM adds a Boston route.
Aeromexico, now a joint venture partner with Delta, plans to expand its presence at Mineta San Jose International next summer by offering seasonal flights to Mexico City. The carrier will use a 737-800 on the route, offering daily flights from June 1 through August 31. The southbound flight will depart SJC at 1:40 p.m. In July of this year, Aeromexico started service from San Jose to Guadalajara.
Speaking of Mexico City, Southwest Airlines has scaled back its plans to expand service to the Mexican capital. The Dallas Morning News reports that Southwest has changed its mind about adding new service to MEX from Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale next summer. The carrier has given up the slots at Mexico City that it had acquired for those routes, and DOT assigned them instead to VivaAerobus, a Mexican low-cost carrier. When Delta and Aeromexico won approval for their joint venture, they had to give up some slots at MEX, and Southwest picked up enough for four flights a day there, which it initially used to add two flights a day from Houston Hobby.
The new Qantas 787-9 that starts flying from Melbourne to LAX in December won’t be the only new Dreamliner service from Down Under. Air New Zealand plans to deploy the newest version of its 787-9 on its two-year-old Auckland-Houston route in December. The Kiwi carrier also plans to boost frequencies on that route next year, from the current five weekly flights to six or seven from March 25 through October 27. The new Air New Zealand 787-9 increases capacity in the front of the plane, from 18 business class seats to 27 and from 21 premium economy seats to 33. The airline currently flies a 777-200 to Houston.
British Airways has been planning to introduce “high density” 777-200ERs on long-haul flights out of London Gatwick Airport, partly in response to low-cost interlopers like Norwegian, and its plans for those planes are starting to emerge. Unlike its existing 275-seat 777-200ERs, the new version will cram 336 seats into the planes, according to Routesonline.com – 32 in business class, 52 in premium economy and 252 in regular economy. BA plans to put the new version of the plane into service for one weekly flight between Orlando and Gatwick as of May 11, 2018, increasing to daily by October 6; one flight a week between Ft. Lauderdale and Gatwick starting September 13 of next year, increasing to three a week October 8; and daily service between New York JFK and Gatwick effective July 8 of next year.
Looking ahead to other transatlantic markets for 2018, United had been planning to offer seasonal service from Chicago O’Hare to Shannon, Ireland from late May through early September, but now it has canceled those plans. And Delta is giving up on its Newark-Amsterdam service – which operates four days a week this winter – as of March 23. However, Delta partner KLM will expand service between New York JFK and Amsterdam next year, adding a third flight six days a week effective March 26. In another development, Delta will code-share on daily A330-200 Alitalia flights from Rome to Delhi, India, effective October 29.
American Airlines, which acquired a small equity stake in China Southern Airlines this year, is planning a substantial code-sharing program with that carrier, according to Air Transport World. It said AA has filed plans with the Transportation Department to put its AA code onto China Southern flights from San Francisco to Wuhan and to Guangzhou, as well as its New York JFK-Guangzhou service. The AA code would also go onto 14 China Southern routes from Beijing to other destinations in China. It didn’t say when the code-sharing is expected to begin. Last month, American moved its operations at Beijing’s airport from Terminal 3 to China Southern’s base at Terminal 2.
Etihad Airways plans to reduce its schedule between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi this winter. From January 15 through April 30, it will trim frequencies from daily to four a week, switching aircraft on the route from a 777-200LR to a 777-300ER. (And don’t forget, as we reported last summer, Etihad will discontinue its San Francisco-Abu Dhabi service on October 29 after cutting it back earlier this year from daily frequencies to just three flights a week.)
To Latin America, LATAM has filed for regulatory approval to begin the first non-stop service between Boston and Sao Paulo, Brazil next summer, although a schedule and starting date haven’t yet been determined.