In international route developments, United puts more aircraft with its new Polaris business cabin into service from San Francisco; San Diego gets new Europe service from two carriers; Hainan Airlines plans a New York route; and WOW adds another U.S. gateway.
United Airlines has taken delivery of more 777-300ERs equipped with its new Polaris international business class seat, and it is putting them into service. The airline is focusing on transpacific flights out of San Francisco for the new planes. This week, it put a new Polaris-equipped 777-300ER into service between San Francisco and Tokyo Narita, and another is due to start flying later this month from SFO to Taipei. United already uses the 777-300ER on its San Francisco-Hong Kong and Newark-Tel Aviv routes.
Lufthansa has some big plans for California in 2018. For one thing, the airline said it will begin service next summer between San Diego and Frankfurt. It will operate five flights a week on the route, but it didn’t say what kind of aircraft it would use. Meanwhile, Lufthansa is planning to shift five of its 14 Airbus A380 super-jumbos from Frankfurt to Munich next year, and it will put one of them onto its Munich-Los Angeles route next summer, where it currently uses an A340. Lufthansa currently uses an A380 for one of its two daily LAX-Frankfurt flights.
Last week, another airline started flying from San Diego to Europe: Edelweiss is operating two flights a week (Mondays and Fridays) from SAN to Zurich. The seasonal service will continue through September 18, using a two-class, 314-passenger A340-300. What is Edelweiss? It’s a sister company of Swiss International Air Lines (and thus part of the Lufthansa family) that concentrates on the leisure market.
Speaking of Lufthansa, the German carrier is reportedly planning to try out a new pricing concept for long-haul trips through its European hubs. It’s called a “flexible routing” fare, and persons who buy it would get a discount in exchange for agreeing to let Lufthansa change their flight and routing from a connection through Frankfurt to one at another Lufthansa-family hub like Munich, Vienna or Zurich. The point is to give the airline more flexibility in steering traffic away from Frankfurt, where operating costs are higher, and still get the passenger from his desired point A to point B.
China’s Hainan Airlines has filed a schedule to start service this fall between New York JFK and Chongqing. The carrier is planning to offer two flights a week beginning October 20, using a two-class 787-8.
Iceland’s low-cost WOW Air continues its U.S. growth. This week, WOW started flying from Pittsburgh to Reykjavik , with one-way base fares starting as low as $99 (plus ancillary fees for everything from carrying on a bag to selecting a seat assignment in advance). Onward connections are available at Reykjavik to several European cities. WOW will fly the route five days a week, using a 220-passenger A321. Next month, WOW is due to add Chicago O’Hare to its route map.