In international route developments, Hong Kong Airlines details its plans for San Francisco service; Delta will increase London Heathrow capacity next year with bigger aircraft; Virgin Atlantic will put 747s onto two U.S. routes; Lufthansa moves into Airberlin markets; Norwegian adds an ultra-long haul low-fare route; Hawaiian switches code-share allegiance to Japan Airlines; and American and United alter their Cuba services.
Delta is making some changes to its London Heathrow service next year, giving it a lot more capacity from key hubs. The company said that effective March 24, it will change equipment on its LHR routes out of New York JFK, Atlanta and Detroit from the current 208-passenger 767-300s to 293-seat Airbus A330s. Delta One flat-bed seats in the A330s have that herringbone layout with aisle access for all. Delta will also slightly alter its JFK joint venture schedule with Virgin Atlantic; the current schedule of five Virgin and three Delta flights a day will change to six Virgin and two Delta departures.
While Delta recently publicized some new Europe routes it is adding in 2018, it did not publicize some that it is dropping. That includes seasonal summer service from New York JFK to Moscow Sheremetyevo and to Stockholm Arlanda, and from Philadelphia to Paris CDG.
Hong Kong Airlines, partly owned by China’s Hainan Airlines, will begin service between Hong Kong and Los Angeles in mid-December. A few weeks ago, we reported that the airline also has its eye on other U.S. gateways, and it has just revealed it plans for Hong Kong-San Francisco service. The carrier plans to start flying HKG-SFO on March 25 with four flights a week, increasing to daily frequencies by August 18, according to Routesonline.com. Both LAX and San Francisco flights will use A350-900s with 33 fully-reclining business class seats, 108 in “Economy Comfort” class, and 193 in regular economy. Will a new entrant be able to compete in a crowded SFO market against Cathay Pacific’s three daily flights to Hong Kong, plus service from United and Singapore? We’ll see…
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic also has some good news for fans of the fast-disappearing Boeing 747. On March 26, Virgin will put a 747-400 onto its daily Manchester-Atlanta service twice a week, increasing to three a week May 26. And on May 22, it will start using a 747-400 on four of its seven weekly JFK-Manchester flights. The other flights on both routes use A330s.
Germany’s bankrupt Airberlin keeps limping along as it negotiates the sale of its assets to competitors, but that hasn’t stopped Lufthansa from targeting a couple of Airberlin routes. Lufthansa just announced a pair of new U.S. routes starting this fall – neither one to its hubs at Frankfurt or Munich. On November 7 Lufthansa will kick off New York JFK-Berlin service five days a week with an A330-300 (its first Berlin wide-body service in 16 years), followed on November 8 by Miami-Dusseldorf A330-300 flights three days a week. Next summer, both routes will be transferred to Lufthansa’s Eurowings subsidiary. (Meanwhile, the Oneworld alliance has suspended mileage earning and spending privileges on Airberlin flights for members of other Oneworld airline frequent flyer programs.)
What is the world’s longest route operated by a low-cost airline? As of this week, it’s London Gatwick-Singapore, just launched by Norwegian – its first route to Asia. The carrier is using a 787-9 to fly the 6,764-mile route (12 hours 45 minutes) four times a week, with one-way base fares starting as low as 150 pounds ($201) (plus lots of fees, of course). Norwegian flies to London Gatwick from several U.S. cities – most recently adding Denver-Gatwick and Seattle-Gatwick flights.
Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines have announced a new code-share partnership that starts March 25, subject to government approval. “The two carriers also intend to establish a joint venture designed to provide even more choices, convenience and enhancements to the traveling public to/from Japan and beyond to multiple Asian markets,” Hawaiian said. Specific code-shared flights and routes haven’t yet been announced, but Hawaiian said its passengers will have “full access to Japan’s domestic network,” including Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai and Aomori. The pact also includes reciprocal mileage earning and spending on code-shared flights, as well as mutual airport lounge access. Hawaiian is moving into JAL’s Terminal 2 at Tokyo Narita to facilitate easy connections. The deal also means the end of Hawaiian’s code-sharing partnership with ANA.
U.S. carriers continue to adjust their Cuba services as they get a better handle on consumer demand for flights to the island nation. American Airlines plans to terminate its daily Miami-Cienfuegos E175 flights on January 7, and United has applied for government approval to increase its service from Houston Bush Intercontinental to Havana from weekly Saturday-only flights to daily frequencies. It didn’t specify a start date for the increase.
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