In domestic route news, ultra-low-cost Frontier announced even more new service at San Jose; Alaska kicks off its big bump in Bay Area service, and deploys more Virgin A321neos; Delta adds new flights to ski destinations; American expands its schedule to Vail; and Twin Cities-based Sun Country Airlines moves to a new business model.
Two months ago, Frontier Airlines announced plans to add service from Mineta San Jose to four cities – Denver, Las Vegas, Austin and San Antonio. Now Frontier is adding three more cities to its SJC schedule: Atlanta, Cincinnati and Colorado Springs. Atlanta and Colorado Springs flights will operate four days a week starting April 9, 2018, while Cincinnati service will fly three days a week as of April 8. Daily SJC-Denver service kicks off October 5, followed by SJC-Las Vegas four days a week beginning November 1, SJC-San Antonio three days a week as of April 8 and SJC-Austin three times a week starting April 9.
Back in March, Alaska Airlines/Virgin America unveiled plans for a big expansion of activity in the Bay Area, and this fall those new flights are finally starting to operate. Alaska recently started new daily mainline service (using A320-family planes from Virgin’s fleet) from San Francisco International to Philadelphia and to Nashville, to be followed by daily flights from SFO to New Orleans beginning September 21, to Indianapolis September 26, to Baltimore-Washington October 16, to Raleigh-Durham October 19, and to Kona, Hawaii December 14.
Also part of Alaska’s Bay Area expansion are new E175 flights out of Mineta San Jose, including four flights a day to Los Angeles beginning September 20, and recently-launched daily service to both Austin and Tucson. At its Seattle hub, meanwhile, Alaska plans to drop its existing daily Horizon Air non-stops to Colorado Springs effective November 4.
Alaska subsidiary Virgin America is getting more new Airbus A321neos, and has revealed the markets where they will begin to operate. Virgin will use an A321neo for one daily Los Angeles-Honolulu flight beginning November 5 (moved up from January 4, 2018); two daily San Francisco-LAX flights beginning November 5; a daily San Francisco-Seattle flight as of November 6; daily SFO-Kona service starting December 14; daily LAX-Maui flights as of January 14 and flights once a week from SFO to San Diego and SFO-Las Vegas beginning January 14 and February 11 respectively. The A321neo (which stands for New Engine Option) is the largest aircraft in Virgin’s fleet, with 185 seats, vs. 146-149 for its A320s.
Delta is beefing up its winter schedule to ski destinations this year. Beginning December 21, Delta will offer daily flights from Salt Lake City to Eagle, Colorado (the airport for Vail) and to Montrose, Colorado (the gateway for Telluride), plus flights once or twice a week from Atlanta to Vancouver, B.C. (the gateway to Whistler). From December 21 through April 2, Delta will also increase frequencies this year from its hubs to its existing ski destinations including Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Springs and Montrose, Colo.; Sun Valley, Idaho; Bozeman and Kalispell, Montana; Reno/Tahoe; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Calgary/Banff, Alberta and Vancouver/Whistler. You can click here and scroll down to see the full Delta ski schedule.
Speaking of Vail/Eagle, Colorado, American Airlines plans to extend its seasonal service from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Vail, making it a year-round daily operation next year. Currently, only United Express has year-round Vail flights.
Ever fly Sun Country Airlines? That Twin Cities-based niche carrier recently hired a new CEO named Jude Bricker, who formerly worked at ultra-low-cost Allegiant Air. And according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the new chief plans to move Sun Country over to the same ultra-low-cost business model used by Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit Airlines. Citing a memo to employees at Sun Country, the newspaper said the changes will mean “more seats on airplanes” and a plethora of new passenger fees, including one for overhead bin space. It also means diversifying Sun Country’s route network away from its heavy reliance on MSP, where it is caught in a squeeze between legacy carriers and ultra-low-cost competitors. There’s no word yet on how soon flyers will see those changes.