Former Partners Assume Jet's Routes
- Jet Airways is gone. So its partners are picking up some of the demand it left behind. Virgin Atlantic is one such partner. In October, it will launch new nonstops from Manchester to Delhi, to go along with the Delhi and Mumbai service it offers from London Heathrow. Virgin is looking more and more like a growth airline these days, after years of very limited network expansion.
The Heathrow-Mumbai service is new, having launched just last fall. Heathrow-Tel Aviv launched last fall too, not long after Heathrow-Las Vegas and Manchester-Los Angeles. Heathrow-São Paulo, Heathrow-Cape Town, and Gatwick-New York JFK launch this year.
These new services coincide with the start of combined management of transatlantic routes with Delta and Air France/KLM. They also parallel the formation of new partnerships with WestJet and Gol, along with newly arriving A350-1000s, newly ordered A330 NEOs, and still-active plans to use newly acquired Flybe as a feeder operation (assuming that is, the regional carrier navigates its way out of ongoing financial trouble).
Don’t forget that Thomas Cook’s U.K. operation, now dead, had its biggest base in Manchester, presenting big opportunities for Virgin.
- But Virgin isn’t the only ex-Jet Airways partner planting more of its own flags in India. Air France has a new route too, in its case connecting Paris with Chennai, the country’s third largest airline market after Delhi and Mumbai. It’s using 279-seat B787-9s, joining the carrier’s existing flights to Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
KLM flies to those same three cities as well. Air France/KLM happens to have the smallest Indian presence among Europe’s Big Three, a shortcoming it seems keen on addressing.
Lufthansa and its subsidiaries have the largest. IAG is somewhere in between.
Southwest Announces First Seasonal Route; Frontier and Spirit Add Dots
- After all these decades, Southwest still flies to just 102 airports with its 741 planes. JetBlue for comparison’s sake, flies to just four fewer with 259 planes. Add one more to Southwest’s list when Cozumel opens next month, as previously announced.
Add another still with the opening of its newest city, unveiled last week. What city? It’s Steamboat Springs, a Colorado mountain market popular with skiers. There’s no launch date yet, but the airline says flights will operate from its booming Denver stronghold before the end of the year. They’ll also operate only during winter ski season, which is unusual for Southwest. All of its existing routes operate year round.
In the past five years, most of the LCC’s new routes have been to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America (i.e. Punta Cana, Puerto Vallarta, and Costa Rica’s capital San Jose). It most recent entered Hawaii with service to Honolulu, Maui, Kona Hilo, and Lihue. Other cities added in recent years include Cincinnati and Long Beach.
It’s of course exited some underperforming cities too, including Branson, Flint, Dayton, Akron/Canton, Jackson, Key West, and most recently Newark. Just to be clear, even if the number of dots on Southwest’s route map doesn’t grow much over time, it’s always adding lots of new routes connecting existing dots.
That’s a less a risky way of growing, especially when you already have a giant base of customers in most of the country’s largest metro area economies.
- Frontier takes a more experimental approach to adding new cities and routes, often committing just a few flights per week. Its latest experiment involves Ontario in California’s Inland Empire east of Los Angeles. Flights will run to Las Vegas in competition with Southwest, and to Seattle in competition with Alaska.
Two new routes are to Central America: San Salvador and Guatemala City. And two are transcon routes: to Newark and Miami. Frontier is separately launching Phoenix flights to Los Angeles and San Jose, both in California.
It will be the fifth airline on the LAX route, along with Southwest and the Big Three.
- Frontier’s larger rival Spirit launched another new Austin flight last week, this one to Cancun. Nashville and Newark are next on its Austin expansion list, tapping demand from a city that the Wall Street Journal last week said was America’s hottest job market. Apple is adding lots of jobs there.
Nashville, where Amazon is adding jobs, was actually number two on the Journal’s list. Others in the top 10 were Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Raleigh-Durham, Orlando, Dallas, and San Jose. The eleventh deserves a mention because it’s surprising: Cincinnati.
The Journal also compiled a list for smaller metro areas, that one topped by Boulder (Colorado), Midland/Odessa (the epicenter of West Texas oil), Fayetteville (Walmart’s home city in Arkansas), and Sioux Falls (South Dakota).
Alitalia Ends Seoul and Santiago Routes
- Are Alitalia’s days finally numbered? Never be too sure, given its many previous brushes with death. In the end, Italian taxpayers always seem to come through with a helping hand, if not voluntarily.
But with travelers avoiding northern Italy due to the virus outbreak, conditions are surely turning from really bad to outright code-red panic. One move it’s taking to get some relief: Ending service to Seoul and Santiago, permanently.