The end of March marked the launch of the peak travel summer season of 2019 (S 19) for the world’s airlines and, as a result, the perfect time to launch new international flight routes. This meant the start of a number of new long-haul routes between international destinations and U.S. gateways. Here is a tally of major recent launches:
—Cathay Pacific Airways launched service between Hong Kong and Seattle-Tacoma on March 31. Seattle becomes the eighth destination in the U.S. for Cathay Pacific, which already serves Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, New York’s Newark and JFK (via Vancouver), San Francisco and Washington Dulles.
—United Airlines launched flights between San Francisco and Amsterdam on March 30. The airline will serve the transatlantic service daily using its fleet of 787-9s. With this new service, the carrier has inaugurated 10 new routes across North America, including its first flights to Everett Paine Field (also known as Snohomish County Airport), a small international airport serving part of the Seattle metropolitan area
—American Airlines launched two transatlantic routes during the first weekend of the S19 season: one route. Begun on March 30, connects Charlotte-Douglas Airport in North Carolina and Munich. A second new service began the following day, linking Phoenix and London Heathrow. Both routes have competition: Lufthansa flies daily from Munich to Charlotte-Douglas daily this summer, while American Airlines offers daily service from London Heathrow to Phoenix.
—WestJet launched service to Atlanta from Calgary on March 3rd. It operates six times weekly.
—On March 31, Air France launched a new route to Dallas-Ft. Worth from Paris (Charles de Gaulle). The new service operates three times weekly. The flight faces competition from American Airlines which provides a daily service.
—Finnair launched its fifth U.S. route, from Helsinki to Los Angeles (LAX) on March 31. It will operate three times a week. Finland’s flag carrier also serves Chicago O’Hare, Miami, New York JFK and San Francisco in the U.S.
—KLM began service between Amsterdam and Boston on March 31. It is the carrier’s 10th destination in the U.S. The others are Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York JFK, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Washington Dulles. KLM will operate the route three times weekly—on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Beginning July 1, a fourth weekly (Mondays) flight will be added.
—Norwegian began its first route Canada on March 31, with the low-cost carrier connecting Dublin to Hamilton, Ontario.
—Norwegian has also introduced three long-haul services to the USA, including its first flights to Miami and San Francisco from London Gatwick as the carrier shuts down Gatwick service to Fort Lauderdale and Oakland services. The airline’s third U.S. route connects Rome (Fiumicino) to Boston.
Meanwhile, for the future …
—Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines are planning to launch flights from London Gatwick to Boston and New York JFK beginning in the summer of 2020. The new routes will give the two carriers up to 18 daily flights between the UK and Boston and JFK. Full schedule and fare information will be announced later this year.
—The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally paved the way for Vietnamese airlines to make flights to the country as the FAA has been assured that the Vietnamese civil aviation authority has complied with international safety standards, enabling the action. With the news, companies such as Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways, which had already expressed a desire to operate direct flights to the US West Coast, could plan routes between the Vietnam and cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Vietnamese airlines will still need to undergo individual evaluations promoted by the FAA before they actually start selling air tickets for nonstop flights to the United States.
—U.S. carrier JetBlue will enter the transatlantic market in 2021 promising “multiple daily flights” from New York and Boston to London. JetBlue says the new routes—they represent the airline’s first transatlantic venture—will, according to Jet Blue underline a “new era” of “customer-focused, low-fare travel between the US and Europe.” It is still unclear, however, at which London airport JetBlue will base its UK operations. “JetBlue is evaluating which London airports it will serve,” said the airline.