In The Sky: August

Travel News 31 Aug 2017

FCM’s monthly industry update for all things air related from airport openings and refurbishments to new carrier routes and expansion plans.

Alaskan Airlines expansion

The fifth-largest carrier in the U.S. recently announced plans to launch in more than 30 markets within the next six months. This plan comes after an expansion to 20 new markets over the last nine months, as well as other routes acquired after its purchase of Virgin America last December. The Seattle-based company hopes that the new reach will allow it to continue to grow and challenge the larger existing carriers.

Qatar Airways expanding despite embargo

Doha based Qatar Airways is continuing with its planned expansion program, recently announcing that it would increase services from its Qatar hub to Vietnam. This expansion will include a new non-stop daily service to Hanoi to go along with their existing route via Bangkok. The company also announced that it will be increasing the frequency of its Doha-Ho Chi Minh City service from one per day to 10 per week starting in January.

American Airlines expands Basic and Premium Economy

American Airlines has announced that they will begin selling their new Basic Economy offering over their entire domestic network by the end of September. This type of ticket debuted in February and is currently offered on 78 domestic and Canadian services. Customers buying Basic Economy receive a discount of roughly $20 each way in exchange for boarding after other passengers, seats towards the back of the plane, non-changeable or refundable tickets and a no carry-on luggage too large to fit under a seat. Part of this strategy is to compete with low-cost carriers, while also making American Airlines tickets more prominent on web-searches for low fares.  To go along with this initiative, American are also planning to significantly expand the availability of their Premium economy class tickets by the end of the year. You can access our previous news items regarding the ‘Basic Economy’ package here.


Air Berlin expands transatlantic operations

German discount carrier Air Berlin is set to expand its transatlantic services, announcing new flights to Chicago and Toronto from its hub in Dusseldorf. The Toronto route will operate four flights per week and will be the first Canadian route operated by the carrier, while Chicago has five planned each week. This comes on the back of already announced plans from Air Berlin to boost US services with flights to San Francisco operating during the winter and Orlando services becoming year round.

Alitalia administrators look for buyers

The commissioners operating Alitalia are looking to achieve a ‘full sale’ of the Italian carrier. After going into administration and being bailed out by the Italian government the commissioners currently running Alitalia hope the reformed business will attract a buyer. Reports suggest that as many as 10 parties have submitted bids to buy Alitalia, either in its entirety or in part. The only airline to admit to being one such bidder is Ryanair. Commissioner Luigi Gubitosi recently told La Repubblica newspaper in Italy that “We want to set up the restructuring of the company in order to sell it in the best way possible and in the shortest possible time”. You can find more information about the Alitalia situation here


Transatlantic Partnership

Air France-KLM has announced that they will be purchasing a 31 percent stake in British carrier Virgin Atlantic. This will go with Delta’s 49% ownership of the airline and reduce Virgin Group’s equity in the company to 20%. This move is aimed at expanding and strengthening the transatlantic partnership between these airlines, and will be accompanied by Delta and China Eastern each purchasing separate 10% stakes in Air France KLM. The partnership of these airlines is intended to last for at least 15 years, offering; reciprocal frequent-flyer benefits, co-location of facilities at hubs, the ability to earn miles on any of the partner airlines and access to each company’s lounges for premium travelers. The partnership will cover more than 300 daily flights across The Atlantic organized around hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Seattle. 

New British Airways route to Nashville announced

British Airways recently announced a new route from London to Music City. The service from London Heathrow to Nashville is expected to operate five times a week starting in May 2018. British Airways Director of Network Alliances Sean Doyle said that ‘“We are incredibly excited to be adding Nashville to our extensive global network, making us the only carrier flying non-stop between Europe and Tennessee’. Flown with Boeing 787-8 Aircraft, this will be the first ever route direct between the two cities.