In international route developments, there’s a new entrant in the U.S.-Hong Kong market; Delta will put a new aircraft on a China route and will beef up transpaciifc code-sharing; Cathay Pacific will add another U.S. gateway next year; United is eliminating first class on many routes and cuts back China service; a Lufthansa affiliate is adding a new business class; LATAM is coming to Las Vegas; San Jose gets more service to Mexico; Copa begins Denver service; an Italian airline plans new U.S. routes; Alaska ends its relationship with two European partners; and Norwegian revamps its U.S. schedules next summer, adding frequencies from the West Coast.
Hong Kong Airlines, a Hong Kong-based sister company of China’s Hainan Airlines, this week started service to the U.S. for the first time. The carrier is using a new Airbus A350-900 on the Los Angeles-Hong Kong route, configured with 33 lie-flat business class seats, 109 premium economy seats with 34-inch pitch, and 193 regular economy seats with 31-32 inch pitch. The new LAX-Hong Kong flights operate four times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday), with a 10:45 a.m. departure from LAX. Hong Kong Airlines plans to add San Francisco service in late March, and New York flights later next year.
So far, all of Delta’s Airbus A350-900s have been scheduled for routes out of Detroit or Atlanta, but now the airline is planning to operate one of the new planes out of Los Angeles. According to Routesonline.com, Delta plans to start flying the new plane from LAX to Shanghai Pudong on July 2, alternating days with a 777-200LR until July 18, when the A350 will go onto a daily schedule. Delta’s A350s – which feature the airline’s new Delta One suites and new international premium economy section – are already used on flights from Detroit to Tokyo Narita and Seoul Incheon, and are slated to start Detroit-Beijing service January 17; Detroit-Amsterdam and Atlanta-Seoul March 24; and Detroit-Shanghai April 19.
Meanwhile, Delta will expand code-sharing with its transpacific partner Korean Air on January 10, putting the DL code onto Korean’s flights to Seoul Incheon from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
In other transpacific news, Cathay Pacific has unveiled plans to add another East Coast gateway in mid-September 2018, when it will start flying from Hong Kong to Washington Dulles. The carrier already serves Boston, New York JFK and Newark. Cathay reportedly plans to fly the route – which will be the longest in its system – four days a week with a brand-new Airbus A350-1000.
A couple of months ago, we reported on United’s plans to reconfigure its international long-haul 777-200s, putting in new lie-flat Polaris business class seats, taking out first class, and going from nine-across to 10-across seating in economy. A recent entry in Routesonline.com about United’s 2018 schedules shows where the reconfigured 777s will be deployed, based on the elimination of first class from seating availability. It shows the elimination of 777 first class in late April from San Francisco to London, and from Washington Dulles to Brussels, Frankfurt and Tokyo Narita; and at the end of August from Chicago O’Hare to Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo Narita, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Frankfurt and Munich. Meanwhile, United’s seasonal summer route from San Francisco to Xi’An, China, which had previously been scheduled for three 787 flights a week from May 6 through September 4, has been eliminated for 2018.
Las Vegas is due to get its first non-stop service to South America next summer. LATAM Airlines Brasil has filed plans to operate a 767 three times a week between Las Vegas and Sao Paulo from June 21 through August 31.
We recently reported that Lufthansa’s lower-cost leisure affiliate Eurowings plans to launch new transatlantic routes in 2018, including JFK-Dusseldorf starting April 28, Dusseldorf-Miami as of May 4, and Dusseldorf-Ft. Myers beginning May 3. Now it appears that the airline will try to entice business travelers onto those flights by adding a new business class cabin. According to reports from Europe, the new Eurowings cabin, simply called Bizclass, will feature seats that recline fully and will include upgraded meals and other special amenities. Details of Eurowings’ new Bizclass are expected to be introduced in March at the big ITB Travel Fair in Berlin.
Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris, which already had service out of San Jose to Guadalajara, has now added two more routes. Volaris has started twice-weekly flights from SJC to Morelia on Fridays and Sundays, as well as twice-weekly service from SJC to Zacatecas on Mondays and Thursdays. Next summer, Aeromexico is due to begin SJC-Mexico City flights.
Panama’s Copa Airlines, a member of United’s Star Alliance family, has added Denver as its 13th U.S. gateway. The carrier has kicked off new non-stop service four days a week from Denver to Panama City, with Denver departures on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 10:16 p.m. Copa offers onward connections in Panama to 55 Latin American destinations.
Italian carrier Meridiana plans to add two U.S. routes next summer. On June 1, it will begin daily service from Milan Malpensa to New York JFK, followed up on June 8 by four flights a week from Malpensa to Miami. The airline will use a 247-passenger, two-class Airbus A330 on both routes.
On April 30, 2018, Alaska Airlines will end its Mileage Plan partnership with Air France-KLM – not really a surprise considering that the European duo has a joint venture partnership with Alaska’s arch-rival Delta. Alaska and Delta ended their own mileage partnership last spring. The Alaskan carrier notes that it still has partnership agreements to Europe in place with British Airways, Finnair, Icelandair and Condor.
The latest schedule updates from Norwegian show the low-cost carrier plans to boost service on several U.S. routes in late March, increasing its weekly Barcelona frequencies from three to four out of Los Angeles, from three to five out of Oakland, and from four to six out of Newark. The carrier will also boost LAX-Copenhagen service from three flights a week to four. At Boston, Norwegian plans to increase London Gatwick service from four flights a week to seven starting June 12, but it will discontinue its seasonal Boston-Oslo and Boston-Copenhagen flights.