Routes: Israel, Austin, London, Fiji, Italy and more
This week's most important air routes and service news
In route news, El Al kicks off new San Francisco service on Monday and Frontier adds an SFO route; Norwegian will increase SFO-London frequencies next winter; Air Italy eyes new U.S. routes; Level adds a U.S. gateway; United begins a transatlantic route from Denver; American announces new routes for next fall/winter and starts flying in more regional domestic markets; Spirit launches several new flights from Raleigh-Durham; and international routes are delayed or dropped by Delta, China's Hainan Airlines and Mexico's Interjet.
United will get some competition on its San Francisco-Tel Aviv non-stop route starting May 13 when Israel's El Al enters the market with a 787, offering business, premium economy and economy seating. While United operates daily B777 flights, El Al plans to offer three departures a week. The eastbound flight, which takes almost 14 hours, will depart SFO at 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 10:45 p.m. Saturdays. The Israeli carrier also plans to add weekly Las Vegas-Tel Aviv flights starting in June.
In other SFO route news, Frontier launched new service this week from San Francisco to Austin, flying the route four days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. And in a schedule update filed by Norwegian, the low-cost transatlantic carrier said it plans to fly from SFO to London Gatwick four times a week when its winter schedule kicks in on October 27. Last winter, when Norwegian's Gatwick flight departed from Oakland, it offered three departures a week. (British Airways, which had been flying Oakland-Gatwick to match Norwegian's service, dropped that route last year as Norwegian moved it across the bay to SFO. Norwegian also moved its Ft. Lauderdale-London Gatwick flights to Miami recently. British Airways had been operating competing seasonal FLL-Gatwick service, and now it plans to drop that route after the current schedule ends September 7.)
Fiji Airways is getting a couple of new Airbus A350-900s this fall, and it plans to start flying one of them from Nadi to Los Angeles next January. The other will go onto the Nadi-Sydney route. The airline currently has a fleet of six Airbus A330s; no word yet on whether the airline's San Francisco route will see the new plane. Fiji's A350s will have 33 lie-flat business class seats configured 1-2-1 along with 301 economy seats. Fiji Airways is a member of the American/British Airways etc. Oneworld alliance.
Air Italy, which recently launched seasonal summer service from both San Francisco and Los Angeles to Milan, now plans to convert one of those routes to year-round status in 2020, chief operating officer Rossen Dimitrov said in an interview with the airline journal FlightGlobal – but he didn't say which one. Air Italy currently serves New York JFK and Miami with year-round schedules. Dimitrov also said the airline expects to add two more North American gateways by next summer, one of them seasonal and one year-round, but he gave no hints as to where they might be. That long feud between United, Delta and American vs. the Big Three Middle Eastern carriers is flaring up again around Air Italy, which is 49 percent owned by Qatar Airways; the U.S. airlines argue that Qatar is using Air Italy as a back door strategy to gain access to more U.S. markets.
Level, the low-cost affiliate of the British Airways/Iberia/Aer Lingus International Airlines Group, plans to add a new U.S. route later this year when it introduces the only non-stop service between Las Vegas and Paris. Level will use an Airbus A330 to fly the route two days a week, operating to Paris Orly rather than CDG. The airline is getting a third A330-200 in September and will use it for the LAS flights starting October 30, offering premium economy and regular economy seating. Flights are already on sale, reportedly with one-way fares as low as $99.
United Airlines last week kicked off the third intercontinental route from its Denver hub, inaugurating daily year-round 787 service to Frankfurt -- a route also served by its Star Alliance partner Lufthansa. The eastbound United flight leaves Denver at 3:45 p.m. and arrives at FRA at 9:20 a.m. United also flies from DEN to Tokyo Narita and London Heathrow, and it offers Frankfurt flights from five other U.S. hubs including San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Newark, Chicago and Houston.
American Airlines this week announced plans to add a number of new routes next fall and winter, including several in Latin America and the Caribbean. The carrier will introduce two new destinations in Mexico, starting twice-weekly E175 flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth to the resort town of Huatulco on December 21 and daily CRJ700 service from Phoenix to Chuhuahua beginning December 18. Also on December 21, American will add twice-weekly DFW-Acapulco service with an E175.
December 21 is American's launch date for new weekly Saturday service from Charlotte to Grenada, DFW to St. Thomas, and LaGuardia-Bermuda (all year-round) as well as Chicago O'Hare-St. Lucia and Chicago-St. Thomas (winter only). Subject to government approvals, American plans to start flying once a day beginning December 18 from New York JFK to Georgetown, Guyana, on the northern coast of South America.
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On the domestic side, American said it will begin year-round daily CRJ200 flights on September 4 from O'Hare to Charleston, West Virginia and from Phoenix to Rapid City, South Dakota, and on September 26 from DFW to St. George, Utah. November 21 is the launch date for AA's New York JFK-Richmond, Virginia service, with three daily E140 flights operating year-round. And on December 21, the airline begins daily year-round service from Miami to both Oklahoma City and Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport with E175s, and from Miami to Columbia, South Carolina with an E145. American will also launch Saturday-only winter flights from Philadelphia to Vail/Eagle, Colorado on December 21 with a 757.
Last week, American started new daily service from Philadelphia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. On August 14, it plans to add service five days a week from DFW to Tri-Cities Regional Airport in northeast Tennessee with an ERJ140, followed on September 4 by new daily E175 service from Philadelphia to Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Bentonville.
The latest expansion for low-cost Spirit Airlines is at Raleigh-Durham, where last week it started flying seven new routes, including twice-daily flights to Baltimore/Washington International and daily service to Boston, Detroit, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans and Chicago O'Hare.
International route changes reported recently by Routesonline.com include plans by Delta to discontinue its seasonal winter service from New York JFK to Rio de Janeiro, which was supposed to resume December 19; a delay in the launch of new twice-weekly 787 non-stop service from Chicago O'Hare to Chengdu, China by Hainan Airlines from June 28 to September 16; and the cancellation of four U.S. routes by Mexico's Interjet, including Los Angeles-Los Cabos effective May 30, LAX-Leon/Guanajuato as of May 31, LAX-Puerto Vallarta on June 1, and New York JFK-Cancun after June 16.
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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.