In international route developments, Etihad drops another U.S. gateway and blames American; El Al comes back to Miami; Southwest adds three Latin America/Caribbean destinations from Ft. Lauderdale; and there’s new service to Mexico from Delta/Aeromexico, Alaska, Volaris, Interjet and Viva Aerobus.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways continues to struggle in the U.S. market. Late last month, it ended its San Francisco route, and it recently announced plans to trim its Los Angeles schedule from seven flights a week to four from mid-January through April. And now the carrier said it will suspend its daily flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Abu Dhabi, effective March 25. The airline said the Texas route “will become commercially unsustainable following American Airlines’ unilateral decision to terminate its codeshare agreement ” with Etihad. Company officials said almost half the passengers on its DFW flights were connecting from AA domestic code-shares. Etihad said that depending on how its summer bookings go, “further changes” are possible in its U.S. route network.
Nine years ago, Israel’s El Al ended its Tel Aviv-Miami service — but now it’s back. Last week, El Al started flying the route once again, operating three flights a week with a 777-200. The Israeli carrier also flies from Tel Aviv to New York JFK, Newark, Los Angeles, Boston and Toronto.
Southwest continues to expand its international schedule from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, where earlier this year it opened an expansion of Terminal 1 to accommodate those flights. This week, Southwest started daily service to three new destinations from FLL –Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. At Houston Hobby, meanwhile, Southwest just announced plans to start service next June to Grand Cayman.
There’s lots of activity in the U.S.-Mexico market these days. Alaska Airlines, which started flying to Mexico City from San Francisco and Los Angeles in August, has now kicked off San Diego-MEX flights. Alaska partner SkyWest operates the daily flights with an E175.
Meanwhile, Delta and Aeromexico continue to develop their joint venture partnership. They just opened up new daily service between Delta’s Atlanta hub and Queretaro, Mexico, flying the route with a two-class Aeromexico E190. And last week, Aeromexico launched service from Delta’s growing Seattle hub to Mexico City, using a 737-800 for the daily year-round flights.
Mexican carriers are also adding new service. Low-cost carrier InterJet is adding three routes out of Los Angeles International this month. On November 23, it will begin daily flights to Leon/Guanajuato (close to popular San Miguel de Allende) and three flights a week to Los Cabos, followed on November 24 by four weekly roundtrips from LAX to Puerto Vallarta. On December 19, Volaris will inaugurate weekly service from LAX to Acapulco. And on December 16, vivaAerobus plans to launch daily A320 flights between Mexico City and Las Vegas.
Finally, Southwest Airlines said it will expand service to Cancun on June 9 of next year by adding seasonal Saturday flights from Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham. That means that on Saturdays next summer, Southwest will be operating 27 flights to Cancun from 16 U.S. cities.
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