Alaska Sees Opportunity in LAX
- They’re both now friends with American, fortifying the latter’s western and eastern flanks, respectively. But Alaska and JetBlue are showing no love for one another, in Los Angeles anyway. A week after JetBlue announced a major LAX offensive, Alaska hit back with seven new LAX routes of its own. One is to Fort Myers on the southwest coast of Florida, one of the fastest growing areas of the country pre-crisis. It’s the first time ever the two cities will be connected nonstop. In addition, Alaska will link LAX to Tampa, also on Florida’s west coast, and to Kona and Lihue in Hawaii, Eugene and Medford in Oregon, and Bozeman in Montana. This will give Alaska 35 nonstop routes from LAX this winter, which also includes an upcoming Fresno run announced earlier.
After buying Virgin America in 2016, Alaska expanded its footprint in L.A. It then downsized a bit, cutting capacity at LAX by 5% last year, for example. Why the renewed enthusiasm? The American/oneworld alliance for sure, and the fact that American itself is removing lots of LAX flying. Alaska, furthermore, feels the need to respond to JetBlue’s aggression. Speaking with Skift, Alaska’s capacity planning and alliance chief Brett Catlin admitted that he’s been more cautious in adding back California flights than in adding back Pacific Northwest flights — it faces less competition in Seattle. But with leisure travel the most promising segment in the near-term, markets like Florida are looking attractive from everywhere, even Los Angeles. Catlin spoke of an “enormous amount of opportunity” in Florida.
Airlines at LAX
Busiest Airlines at Los Angeles, 2019
- Sure enough, Alaska is also adding a Seattle-Fort Myers nonstop this winter. And a Seattle-Ft. Lauderdale nonstop. And even a Portland-Fort Lauderdale. Alaska is encouraged by success with new transcon routes like Seattle-Charleston. And Florida isn’t just a leisure destination anymore. Sure, sunshine and that cartoon mouse are the leading reasons people fly there. But the state’s population is growing so rapidly that it’s becoming more of an origin market every year. With 21m people, Florida is even more populous than New York state now.
Wizz Launches Gulf Venture
- Air Arabia’s new Abu Dhabi venture with Etihad is up and running now. Next comes Wizz Air’s Abu Dhabi venture, which will take flight on Oct. 1. Wizz itself is already flying to Abu Dhabi with its European-based crews and planes. But the new airline will use Gulf-based crews and planes (two A321 NEOs initially). Where will it fly? The first six routes will be Alexandria (Egypt), Athens (Greece), Kutaisi (Georgia), Larnaca (Cyprus), Odesa (Ukraine), and Yerevan (Armenia).
Though its downsized like everyone else, Wizz is in some respects behaving like the pandemic never happened, launching and announcing new routes every week. Last week, Vienna-Palma and Milan-Ibiza joined the network. So did five new Italian routes from St. Petersburg, where Russia is conducting an open skies experiment.
- French Bee had suspended flights to much of the U.S. but now plans to restart its Paris Orly-Newark flight next month. The company is selling tickets for the route for August, but it remains unclear if the flights will operate, given the restrictions on U.S.-Europe travel. French Bee, recall, had planned to operate the route with A350s.
- United restarted its Washington-Munich flights. The route will run three times per week to start, operated with B787-9s. Munich-Newark will restart next month. This is significant because Munich is a hub of sorts for United, given its close joint venture with Lufthansa.
- The U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) is granting more exemptions to CARES Act-mandated service levels. Airlines that took funds from the government were required to maintain service to their pre-pandemic destinations. They are allowed to apply for exemptions if they could prove that a particular city or route was well served by other carriers, among other reasons. DOT last week ruled that American could suspend service through Sept. 30 to Kahului, Kona, and Lihue, Hawaii. On the other hand, DOT ruled that Sun Country must continue providing thrice-weekly service at both Austin and San Antonio, Texas. The carrier had applied to reduce its service at those cities from thrice-weekly to once.