Routes: Hawaii cuts + United to Australia, AA, Alitalia, Delta, SAS, Qantas, more
A weekly roundup of airline route and service news
In route news, Alaska Airlines drops two Hawaii routes but adds one to Mexico; San Francisco loses one European carrier but picks up another; United switches its widebodies to Australia; American will drop some Tokyo Narita routes and issues an update for travel on LATAM; Delta deploys a new aircraft to Seoul and changes terminals at Shanghai; SAS will bring new widebodies to California; Qantas rolls out its first revamped A380; and news from Swoop, Level, Norwegian, and Uber Copter.
As Southwest Airlines continues to expand Hawaii service from the Bay Area and Sacramento, Alaska Airlines is cutting back. According to schedule plans reported on Routesonline.com, Alaska plans to discontinue its flights from San Francisco International to Kona as of March 19, and to end its Sacramento-Kona service on March 18. Alaska operates four weekly flights on the SFO route and three a week from Sacramento to Kona. Meanwhile, Alaska also plans to kick off a new Bay Area route to Mexico. Subject to government approval, the carrier will begin daily service from San Jose to Puerto Vallarta on March 19, using an A320.
Related: How to fly to Hawaii in first class
In case you missed our reports earlier this week, Icelandair has decided to end its San Francisco-Reykjavik service in 2020 as it reevaluates its route network. The airline had previously scheduled a resumption of seasonal service on the route on June 2, operating four flights a week with a 767.
But Alitalia – a member of Delta's SkyTeam alliance -- will begin new SFO seasonal service next year, offering three flights a week to Rome Fiumicino from July 1 through October 28 with a 777-200.
United has some aircraft changes coming up. According to Routesonline.com, United will replace the 787-9 Dreamliner currently flying its San Francisco-Sydney route with a 777-300ER for the northern winter season, from December 3 through March 26. And United said that as of November 14, all three of its daily Chicago O'Hare-London flights will be operated with reconfigured 767-300ERs. Those planes have United's full range of international seating options including extra rows of Polaris business class, Premium Plus premium economy, extra-legroom Economy Plus and standard economy.
Last week, we reported on the plans American Airlines announced for its new route rights to Tokyo's close-in Haneda Airport from Dallas/Ft. Worth and Los Angeles. But the airline's announcement failed to mention what's happening to its Tokyo Narita service. According to Routesonline.com, American plans to discontinue a daily Los Angeles-Narita flight as of March 29 and to cancel its three weekly Chicago O'Hare-Narita flights effective January 2. At Dallas/Ft. Worth, AA will drop one of its two daily Narita flights starting March 29. The airline's new Haneda service includes a second daily LAX-HND 787-9 flight and a daily DFW-Haneda 777-300ER flight, both starting March 29.
American is also seeking to reassure passengers who are booked to fly on its Oneworld alliance partner LATAM, following Delta's announcement a week earlier that it is buying a 20 percent equity stake in that South American airline. That deal will mean the end of LATAM's membership in Oneworld, but American said that isn't happening immediately. Currently, "There is no change for American or LATAM customers, and American is not aware of any customers who are being denied travel," AA said. "There is currently no change to our frequent flyer agreement or reciprocal club access for eligible customers of American or LATAM. AAdvantage members will continue to earn miles on flights marketed by LATAM. Over the next few months, as we wind down our agreements with LATAM that are still intact today, American will work with LATAM to ensure all of our customers are taken care of. American has suspended new codeshare bookings only." You can read details of American's announcement here.
In other international news, American said it plans to introduce new daily service from Boston to London Heathrow on March 29, using a 777-200 and boosting the AA-British Airways joint venture's BOS-LHR schedule to five flights a day. American will also extend three of its summer transatlantic routes next year by starting them several weeks earlier than previously planned. AA's New York JFK-Rome service will now operate from March 29 to October 23, while Dallas/Ft. Worth-Dublin is now scheduled for May 7-October 7 and Chicago-Barcelona for April 6-October 23. Finally, American will expand its South America schedule out of Miami next year, increasing MIA-Lima from two flights a day to three starting April 7 and laying on additional daily frequencies to Santiago and to Sao Paulo for the winter 2020 schedule.
It started a few months later than originally planned, but Delta this week deployed a new Airbus A330-900neo on its Seattle-Seoul Incheon route. The carrier introduced the new widebody in July on its Seattle-Shanghai service, and will do the same for Seattle-Tokyo Narita on October 27. The new aircraft is equipped with 29 Delta One Suites with privacy doors; 28 Premium Select seats, the airline's international premium economy product; 56 extra-legroom Comfort+ seats; and 168 main cabin seats. The new A330-900neo is also the first widebody in Delta's fleet to offer a new wireless in-flight entertainment system that includes high-speed satellite Wi-Fi and free mobile messaging.
In other transpacific news, Delta said this week that its operations at Shanghai Pudong have moved from Terminal 1 to the new S1 Satellite Terminal, next to its partner China Eastern Airlines. Departing passengers will still check in at Terminal 1 but will leave from S1 gates and will go through customs in the new satellite. "China Eastern's new VIP lounges at S1 will be open to Delta One customers and SkyMiles Diamond, Platinum or Gold Medallion members," Delta said. "Moreover, Delta flights arriving at S1 can now park at the gate, so travelers no longer need to bother with remote parking, air stairs or busing." Delta flies to Shanghai Pudong from Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit and Atlanta.
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Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) plans to start using new A350-900s on its California routes next year, according to Routesonline.com. Effective June 8, SAS will use a combination of A350s and A340s on both its San Francisco and Los Angeles routes to Copenhagen instead of the current mix of A330s/A340s. The new planes will have 40 business class seats, 32 SAS Plus premium economy seats and 228 standard economy seats.
Qantas this week rolled out the first of its 12 Airbus A380 super-jumbos to undergo a multi-million-dollar upgrade. The swank redesign has taken out 30 standard economy seats and increased premium seating by 27 percent, with 70 Business Suites (up from 64) and 60 premium economy seats (up from 35). The upper deck is now all premium seating (business and premium economy), and the on-board lounge has been enlarged so it now seats up to 10 business and first class passengers. The former business class Skybed seats have been replaced with new Qantas Business Suites in a 1-2-1 layout; the 14 first class suites have improved cushions and larger video monitors. Qantas said it expects to finish work on two more of its 12 A380s this year. The first one is deployed on the Sydney-Singapore-London route. To the U.S., Qantas operates A380s from Sydney to Los Angeles and Dallas/Ft. Worth and from Melbourne to LAX.
In other international route news this week, Canadian low-cost carrier Swoop has delayed its planned launch this week of new transborder service from San Diego to Edmonton, Alberta and to Abbotsford, B.C. (near Vancouver). No new date has been set for the service. Level, the low-cost unit of British Airways/Iberia parent International Airlines Group, plans to introduce a new route from Boston to Paris Orly on March 31, using an A330-200 to operate three flights a week. And Norwegian plans to move its Newark-Barcelona and Newark-Rome flights to New York JFK on October 27; it offers five flights a week on both routes.
Remember the new Uber Copter service that launched in New York a few months ago, offering helicopter rides between lower Manhattan to JFK Airport? That service was initially available only to Uber's premium customers, but this week the company opened it up to all Uber riders. The eight-minute flight costs $200 to $225 and includes an Uber car ride to the heliport, but only from lower Manhattan.
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Chris McGinnis is the founder of TravelSkills.com. The author is solely responsible for the content above, and it is used here by permission. You can reach Chris at [email protected] or on Twitter @cjmcginnis.