In international route developments, American tries to save LAX-Beijing service; Air AsiaX sets its first U.S. route; Southwest starts Oakland-Mexico flights; Airberlin gets aircraft for more U.S. flights and ends a code-share partnership; South African Airways brings a new aircraft with an improved business class to its Washington Dulles route; United expands its Newark-London schedule; and Volaris comes to Miami.
We reported a few weeks ago that American Airlines’ plan to begin daily Los Angeles-Beijing service had hit a big snag because China wouldn’t give it any slots at Beijing’s Capital International Airport. American has been facing a March 16 deadline set by the U.S. Transportation Department to start flying the route, but now it has asked DOT for a one-year extension. AA said in its filing that it has been in regular contact with Chinese aviation officials about the slot situation, and that it is going to send a senior executive to China to discuss the matter. American told DOT it “fully expects” that its efforts will eventually be successful.
Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X has settled on Honolulu as its first U.S. destination following the recent FAA decision to let it fly to this country. The carrier plans to fly four times a week from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu via a two-hour stopover in Osaka, Japan, starting June 28. The airline has set introductory base fares as low as $112 each way to KL (including taxes and fees), or $673 for its flat-bed premium seats, with a purchase deadline of February 26.
Southwest Airlines this week kicked off its first international service out of Oakland International Airport, operating daily flights from OAK to both Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos. The airport is expanding its International Arrivals Building this year in anticipation of a significant increase in international traffic, officials said. The work should be finished in the third quarter.
Airberlin has acquired three more Airbus A330-200s that it said will allow it to continue building up its service between the U.S. and its German hubs at Berlin and Dusseldorf. The airline announced a few months ago that it plans to begin new non-stops in May between Los Angeles-Berlin four times a week and San Francisco-Berlin three times a week. It already operates from both U.S. airports to Dusseldorf during the summer. It also said it would expand Miami and New York frequencies to Berlin and add Orlando-Dusseldorf service. And now Routesonline.com is reporting that Airberlin will extend some seasonal routes to year-round service starting this fall, including San Francisco-Berlin and SFO-Dusseldorf, both operating four times a week, as well as Orlando-Dusseldorf (five times a week) and Boston-Dusseldorf (four a week). In other news, American Airlines plans to end its code-sharing agreement with Airberlin effective March 26. Both are members of the Oneworld alliance.
South African Airways has started flying a new Airbus A330-300 on its three weekly flights between Washington Dulles and Johannesburg via Dakar, Senegal, and in June it will add the new aircraft to its four weekly IAD-JNB flights that operate via Accra, Ghana. The SAA A330-300 includes an upgraded 46-seat business class product with flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 layout, an improved on-demand entertainment system and power and USB ports at each seat. The aircraft has a 203-seat economy class with a 2-4-2 configuration.
United Airlines plans to add a sixth daily roundtrip to its Newark-London Heathrow route for the summer season, effective April 5 to October 28. The extra flight, departing EWR at 9:30 p.m. and arriving in London at 9:40 a.m., will use a two-class 767-300.
Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris this month added Miami International to its route map, kicking off daily A320 service to Mexico City and four flights a week to Guadalajara.