Exciting new airline routes from February 2020 and beyond
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Airlines are constantly adjusting their schedules, launching new services while canceling others. It’s all part of their efforts to perfect their networks while increasing profitability. New routes are announced nearly every day, some seasonal and some more permanent. Others are a dropped as carriers change course on their route plans.
Here’s a look at some interesting flight changes that were announced in February:
Alaska Airlines is adding a new destination to its lineup from Paine Field near Seattle.
Flights to Boise, Idaho (BOI), will begin June 18, with Alaska Airlines’ regional affiliate Horizon Air operating one daily round-trip flight on 76-seat Embraer E175 jets.
The Boise flight will replace one of Alaska’s three daily flights that it currently offers between Paine Field (PAE) and Portland, Oregon (PDX), according to Alaska spokesman Ray Lane.
Alaska will continue to offer 18 daily flights to Paine Field, which is located in Everett about 25 miles north of downtown Seattle.
Alaska will fly nonstop to 11 cities from Paine Field with the new Boise flight. Its other destinations are Las Vegas (LAS); Los Angeles (LAX); Phoenix (PHX); Portland (PDX); Spokane, Washington (GEG); and the California destinations of Orange Country (SNA), Palm Springs (PSP), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC).
The Boise route also comes as Alaska Airlines has renewed its focus on growth in the West.
As for Everett and Paine Field, they’er perhaps best known for being home to Boeing’s assembly lines for the 747, 767, 777 and 787 jets. The airport reopened to commercial air service last March. Alaska Airlines and United serve the airport with up to 24 flights a day, though United announced plans to drop one route from Everett (more below).
Allegiant Air remains in expansion mode, adding nine new seasonal routes to its summer schedule.
The ninth route announced by Allegiant gives Bloomington/Normal, Illinois (BMI), nonstop service to the carrier’s Florida Panhandle base at Destin/Fort Walton Beach (VPS).
The service expansion will more than double the number of nonstop routes that Allegiant offers from San Diego, from where the carrier will now fly to 10 destinations either seasonally or year-round.
In addition to Las Vegas, Allegiant’s other new destinations from San Diego are Billings, Montana (BIL); Idaho Falls, Idaho (IDA); Medford, Oregon (MFR); Sioux Falls, South Dakota (FSD); and Tulsa (TUL).
Allegiant’s two other new routes from Las Vegas are to Fort Wayne, Indiana (FWA), and Tucson, Arizona (TUS).
The San Diego-Las Vegas schedule will feature six weekly flights, but all of others will operate twice weekly. All nine of the new routes begin during the first week of June.
The nine-route announcement came less than a month after a three-city, 44-route expansion that Allegiant billed as the single-largest growth spurt in its history. That expansion saw Allegiant push into three new major U.S. markets – Boston, Chicago and Houston – while also adding multiple new routes in a dozen others. Nashville (9 new routes); Destin/Fort Walton Beach (5); and Savannah, Georgia (5), were among the biggest winners in that announcement.
Seattle is not a hub for American Airlines, but it will soon be home to one of the carrier’s highest-profile international routes.
American plans to begin flying from Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) to the technology hub of Bangalore (BLR), an 8,078-mile route that would return the carrier to India for the first time since 2012. Service would be on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and begin in October of this year.
American did not give a specific start date for the service, though it’s expected to announce in early March. The flights would be the first ever to operate nonstop between Seattle and Bangalore and would become the second-longest in American’s network, based on the carrier’s current schedule.
Bangalore is just one of two new international routes that American intends to add from Seattle. Next up: London Heathrow (LHR). The airline plans to begin serving Heathrow from Seattle in March 2021, operating the route with Boeing 777 wide-bodies. American’s flights would be in addition to the existing London-Seattle service already offered by Oneworld partner British Airways.
American’s decision to add long-haul international routes from Seattle come as it and Alaska Airlines unveiled plans for a new “West Coast international alliance.” The tie-up — which must gain regulatory approval — would be part of a renewed codeshare pact between the airlines and a move by Alaska Airlines to join the Oneworld frequent-flyer alliance that already counts American as one of its pillar members.
American is pulling out of Duluth, Minnesota, part of a broader move to eliminate three underperforming routes.
American will drop its twice-daily service between Duluth (DLH) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) on April 27, ending its only service to the city. It has operated the route with 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 jets since May 2019.
“The route was not profitable, and we always evaluate our network based on supply and demand,” American spokeswoman Nichelle Barrett told TPG.
With American’s exit, Duluth will have service only on Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – plus Sun Country Airlines’ Landline buses to that carrier’s hub in Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP).
American also is cutting two other routes that it said are unprofitable.
Flights between Chicago O’Hare and Charleston, West Virginia (CRW) will end April 27 while weekend-only service between New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Bermuda (BDA) stops May 30.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines continues to grow its Seattle hub with two new routes, including one to rival American Airlines’ Dallas/Fort Worth hub.
Delta will add flights between Seattle (SEA) and both Columbus, Ohio (CMH), and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) on June 8, according to Cirium schedules. Both routes will be flown with Airbus A220-100 jets.
While Delta has steadily expanded its six-year old Seattle hub with new routes, the additions this year come as the hometown carrier Alaska — Delta’s main competitor in Seattle — just announced plans to renew its ties with American and join the American-backed Oneworld alliance as part of a move to offer better international connections to passengers.
Delta’s new daily service to Columbus will compete with Alaska. Its service to Dallas/Fort Worth (three daily flights) with go head-to-head with both Alaska and American. Alaska and Southwest Airlines also fly from Seattle to Dallas Love Field (DAL).
Frontier unveils 3 new nonstop routes
Frontier Airlines is expanding its route map in the West with three new nonstop routes.
Two of the additions come in Phoenix (PHX), where Frontier will add nonstop service to the California destinations of Los Angeles (LAX) and San Jose (SJC).
Frontier also plans to add nonstop service between Seattle (SEA) and California’s Ontario airport (ONT), which sits about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
Service on all three routes will be daily and will operate on a seasonal basis. The Phoenix flights begin April 23 while the Seattle-Ontario route starts June 2.
Southwest Airlines will land in the Colorado ski destination of Steamboat Springs later this year, the first-ever seasonal addition to its route map.
The Dallas-based carrier will offer daily service between Steamboat Springs (HDN) and Denver (DEN) starting in late 2020. The carrier said details about its flight schedule and start date will be released later, though the flights run in the winter during the ski season.
The addition of Steamboat, a destination in northwest Colorado known for its winter sports, comes at a time of experimentation for the network planners in Dallas. While Southwest flies numerous routes on a seasonal basis, the carrier has not previously served an entire market for only part of the year.
The new seasonal service to Steamboat Springs likely targets what Southwest sees as a period of opportunity when it has available aircraft. At just 141 miles from Denver, it also could add the market as utilization flying, which is when an airline puts an otherwise idle aircraft to use on a short route before a longer flight.
Spirit Airlines is growing its Florida footprint as it tries to bill itself as “Florida’s Hometown Airline.”
The ultra low-cost carrier touted a raft of schedule enhancements from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO), its two busiest airports in the state.
At Fort Lauderdale, which is home to Spirit’s largest base and near its corporate headquarters, the airline said it’s adding more flights on eight existing routes and new service on a ninth: Oakland (OAK). That route, which begins in April, was first announced in January.
Spirit also is bolstering its schedule in Orlando, another key airport for the airline. The carrier will add more flights to eight existing routes there, including to destinations like Atlantic City, New Jersey (ACY); Medellín, Colombia (MDE); Kansas City (MCI); and New York LaGuardia (LGA).
The first of the increased schedules will begin April 1 and will be phased in across all 16 of the routes by the end of July.
The schedule growth comes as Spirit is locked in a competitive battle with both Southwest and JetBlue in Fort Lauderdale, where those three carriers combined to account for about two-thirds of the airport’s passenger traffic in 2019. The airline said the growth “will cement Spirit’s lead as the airport’s largest carrier to the Caribbean and Latin America.”
United Airlines is calling it quits on one of its routes to Paine Field near Seattle, ending San Francisco service after less than a year.
The carrier will end its three daily flights between Everett’s Paine Field (PAE) and San Francisco (SFO) on March 5. United has offered service on the route with 76-seat Embraer 175s since March 31, 2019.
United will continue to serve Paine Field, which is located about 25 miles north of downtown Seattle, with service to Denver (DEN). It will add a third daily flight on the route on Feb. 13, said United spokesman Jonathan Guerin. United declined to say if it would add additional flights to replace the cuts to SFO.
WestJet will grow its Calgary schedule by more than 90 flights this summer as its hub there remains the focal point for the carrier’s growth.
The beefed-up summer schedule will include new destinations from Calgary – including Boston and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – as well as more flights on existing routes.
Also included in WestJet’s summer schedule is a new destination for the carrier: Dawson Creek, British Columbia (YDQ).
WestJet Link regional affiliate Pacific Coastal Airlines will fly one daily round-trip flight on 34-seat Saab 340B turboprops. The aircraft include six “Premium” first-class seats and 28 in economy.
Calgary growth: WestJet plans first-ever nonstop route from Calgary to Rome
Air Senegal will get its first and only nonstop route to the United Kingdom this summer, when the carrier plans to launch a new seasonal route between Dakar and London.
Flights are scheduled to begin June 26 and will be operated with one of the carrier’s soon-to-be-delivered Airbus A321 aircraft. Air Senegal’s Dakar (DSS) service will fly from London’s Stansted Airport (STN).
The STN-DSS route will be the only nonstop route between the two cities. The flights will operate on Fridays, Sundays and Tuesdays. The 2,738-mile journey is scheduled to take about five hours on the outbound leg and just over seven hours on the STN-DSS leg.
London is getting a nonstop connection to the popular destination of the Faroe Islands.
That will come on Atlantic Airways, the flag carrier of the Faroe Islands, which will launch service between London Gatwick (LGW) and Vágar (FAE) this summer. The flight will be seasonal with a schedule of just one flight per week (Tuesdays). Service begins June 23 and runs through Aug. 11.
The 801-mile journey will be operated with the carrier’s Airbus A320neo aircraft.
British Airways is consolidating its Tokyo operations, saying it will shift all of its Tokyo operations to Tokyo’s closer-to-downtown Haneda airport.
Currently, the carrier operates two daily flights from London Heathrow (LHR) to Tokyo — one to Tokyo Haneda (HND) and one to Tokyo Narita (NRT). But, on March 28, BA will switch all of its Tokyo operations to HND, giving it two daily nonstop flights between London and Haneda.
The move allows British Airways to focus its operations around those of Oneworld partner Japan Airlines, which operates a robust domestic schedule from Haneda.
“Our customers can look forward to better connectivity between the U.K. and Japan, faster access into the city of Tokyo, and newly refurbished partner lounges at Haneda,” British Airways said in a statement to TPG.
British Airways is increasing service on some of its long-haul routes this spring, a move that allows it to redeploy some of its widebody planes that had been flying on the carrier’s now-suspended routes to China.
The airline is beefing up its spring schedule between London (LHR) and three overseas markets: Cape Town (CPT), Miami (MIA) and Seattle (SEA).
With the move, BA’s Heathrow-Cape Town schedules will get an additional three flights per week from March 30 through April 19. The carrier’s Miami schedule from Heathrow will get one additional flight from April 1 through May 31 while Seattle will get one additional flight from May 1 through May 31.
New of the additional frequencies comes after BA said it would suspend all mainland China flights until at least the end of March because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Brussels Airlines will connect Washington D.C.., to its namesake hub year-round beginning this fall.
The Star Alliance carrier will resume seasonal service between Brussels (BRU) and Washington Dulles (IAD) with four weekly flight on Feb. 20. The airline suspended flights for the winter in October.
Brussels Airlines operates Airbus A330-200 jets outfitted with 22 business class, 21 premium economy and 212 economy seats on the route.
The airline will offer daily service between Brussels and Washington from March 29 through the summer.
The service will give Washington customers access not only to Brussels Airlines’ home market of Belgium, but also will increase travel options to African and European destination via the carrier’s hub in Brussels.
Cathay Pacific’s fifth-freedom flight between New York (JFK) and Vancouver (YVR) ended in February, several weeks earlier than expected.
The final flight on the route end Feb. 18 amid wide-ranging schedule reductions by Cathay Pacific as the Hong Kong-based airline adjusts to plummeting demand amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
In-depth: What does the coronavirus outbreak mean for travelers?
The route, which Cathay Pacific had flown since 1996, was previously slated to run through late March.
Cathay Pacific announced in February that it would cut 90% of its capacity to mainland China and about 30% of flights across its global network as it faces a steep drop in demand due to the ongoing outbreak.
Norwegian Air won’t be landing at London’s Heathrow Airport this summer after all.
Late last year, the carrier won slots for three round-trip flights at the London hub in a lottery for summer flight schedule allocations.
But now Norwegian has decided to turn down the access.
“After careful consideration, which took into account the current fleet pressures placed on the airline by well documented issues with a specific Rolls Royce Trent engine type and the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, we have decided to return the slots as they do not fit into our network plan at this current time,” Anders Lindström, a spokesman for the airline, said in a statement.
Norwegian’s London operations are based at Gatwick Airport.
Virgin Atlantic is set to expand its reach in Africa, announcing it is returning to Cape Town, South Africa.
Beginning Oct. 25, the carrier will operate daily service to Cape Town International Airport (CPT) from London Heathrow (LHR). The carrier will use Boeing 787-9 aircraft to operate the route.
Virgin Atlantic previously operated nonstop service to the popular holiday destination of Cape Town from 1999 until 2014, when it canceled the route after saying it had become unprofitable.
At that time, Virgin Atlantic said it was placing an emphasis on its routes to America following its tie-up with U.S. carrier Delta. More recently, however, Virgin Atlantic has return to growth in other markets, including new service from London to Sao Paulo (GRU) and Mumbai (BOM).
Virgin Atlantic will begin flying between Manchester and Delhi, India.
Service begins Oct. 26, with a schedule of three weekly flights to be operated with Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Contributing: Liz Hund, Emily McNutt, Edward Russell and Zach Wichter.
Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.
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