Carriers Addressing New Demand—Domestic and International: It’s taken a while for the global airline industry to regroup and get to the point at which it has reached a level about half of what it was before the capacity and activity collapsed last March. So, as it searches for figures that might give some solace to the USA-based receptive tour operators, domestic operators, international operators and the retail trade who rely on air travel connections for to their clients and customers, the tourism industry has embraced the notion that any industry-wide recovery will begin with the domestic travel market.
And for about the last couple of months, the markers have begun to appear—specifically in the number of scheduled domestic flights (along with a limited number of international traffic, which is still depressed due to national travel bans through the world) that aim to serve traditional winter routes, as well as destinations that are not so traditional, but seem to be addressing a consumer desire to travel “the road less taken,” or second-tier and less populated destinations in the United States.
With no single source for the type of information the industry is seeking for the newly important domestic market, we have collected the following sampler of new flight information:
• Here’s where JetBlue is flying this winter: 1. Between Newark and Oranjestad, Aruba beginning November 19. 2. Between Newark and Cancun, Mexico, starting November 19. 3. Between Newark and Montego Bay, Jamaica. JetBlue will launch once-daily service between Newark and Montego Bay beginning November 19. 4. Between Newark and Nassau, Bahamas. 5. Between Newark and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. 6. Between Newark and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. 7. Between Newark and Sint Maarten. JetBlue will launch once-daily service between Newark and Sint Maarten beginning November 19. 8. Between Los Angeles and Charleston, South Carolina, beginning December 18. 9. Between Los Angeles and Cancun, Mexico beginning November 19. 10. Between Los Angeles and Liberia, Costa Rica beginning December 18. 11. Between Los Angeles and West Palm Beach, Florida beginning November 19 as the sole carrier on the route. 12. Between Los Angeles and Raleigh, North Carolina beginning December 18.
13. Between Los Angeles and Richmond, Virginia beginning December 18 as the sole connection between the two cities. 14. Between Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica beginning December 18.
15. Between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Bozeman, Montana beginning December 18, the first between Florida and Montana. Big Sky Country (which, the carrier said, “ has seen an increase in popularity as travelers seek out social distancing-friendly vacations in the great outdoors that Montana has to offer.”) 16. Between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Palm Springs, California beginning December 18
17. Between Tampa, Florida and Cancun, Mexico. 18. Between Tampa, Florida and Richmond, Virginia beginning the 19th of November. 19. Between Raleigh and San Juan, Puerto Rico beginning on the 19th of November. 20. Between Raleigh, North Carolina and Fort Myers, Florida on November 19. 21. Between Raleigh, North Carolina and Cancun, Mexico on November 19. 22. Between Raleigh, North Carolina and Montego Bay, Jamaica on November 19. 23. Between San Francisco and Cancun, Mexico beginning November 19. 24. Between Las Vegas and Richmond, Virginia on December 18.
• United announced on September 9 plans to expand its global route network with new nonstop service to Africa, India and Hawaii. With these new routes, United will offer more nonstop service to India and South Africa than any other U.S. carrier and remains the largest carrier between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii.
Starting this December, United will fly daily between Chicago and New Delhi and, starting in spring 2021, United will become the only airline to operate between San Francisco and Bangalore, India and between Newark/New York and Johannesburg. United will also introduce new service between Washington, D.C., and Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria in late spring of 2021. In the summer of 2021, United will fly nonstops four times weekly between Chicago and Kona and between Newark/New York and Maui. And starting this week, United, the airline offering more nonstop service to Israel than any other U.S. carrier, begins new nonstop service between Chicago and Tel Aviv, the only carrier to offer this service.
United’s newly announced international routes are subject to government approval and tickets will be available for purchase on united.com and the United app in the coming weeks.
• It was announced last month that China and the U.S. agreed to double the number of airline flights that each other’s airlines can operate between the countries—from four to eight per week. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the increase on August 18, Tuesday, pointing out that China’s aviation authority had decided to permit expanded flights by United and Delta. About two weeks after the announcement, United Airlines went from two to four flights per week between San Francisco and Shanghai via Seoul. The service started September 4. DOT said that Delta Air Lines also became eligible to increase its two weekly flights to four.
As a result of the agreement, Chinese airlines that already flew to the United States — Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines — became eligible allowed to make eight weekly round-trips instead of four, DOT said.
• Late last month, Delta announced details of how it will reinstate transatlantic services and frequencies in 2021. For starters, the carriers said that it was tentatively increasing its UK and Ireland flights. Next summer, Delta will reinstate a daily Edinburgh-JFK service and double frequency on Heathrow-JFK to twice daily.
A Heathrow-Detroit daily flight will also be reinstated as will Dublin-Boston. Heathrow-Boston, which resumed last week, moved from five a week to daily with the start of summer 2021 timetables. Flights to Delta’s main Atlanta hub will see similar increases in frequency and reinstatements from March 2021. The Heathrow flight will move from daily this winter to twice daily and the daily Dublin service will resume. Heathrow-Minneapolis will also resume on a daily basis. Delta cautioned that restart dates “may vary” for previously suspended routes “due to travel restrictions and other operational requirements.”
• Virgin Atlantic began resuming flights from Heathrow to Delhi, Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Mumbai and Lagos throughout September. The carrier said that additional routes will be added throughout 2020 followed by a “further, gradual recovery through 2021 in line with customer demand.”
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “We’re continually reviewing our network and as countries begin to open up their borders, we’re introducing more and more flying.” He added, “We’re incredibly excited to resume services to Delhi, Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Mumbai and Lagos this September as well as increasing the frequency to other destinations … We’re now offering daily flights to New York JFK and Los Angeles and twice-weekly flights to Shanghai.” All the flights were to have begun by today (September 16).
• United Airlines announced less than two weeks ago that it plans to add new routes and restore dozens more routes to its October schedule. The new and returning routes mean the Chicago-based airline will be flying 46 percent of last October’s domestic schedule, an 8 percent increase over September.
The airline said it plans to add the new domestic flights on days close to the weekend in an attempt to appeal to leisure travelers looking to “get a head start on long weekend getaways.” United said that it is also adding some international routes to destinations where Americans are allowed to fly in Mexico, Central America and South America. It will fly 33 percent of its October 2019 international schedule, a 4 percent increase over September.
The new international routes include Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru and Panama City, Panama. The airline will also restore or increase service to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Across the Atlantic, it will restore service to Tel Aviv, Israel, from New York and Washington, D.C.
As USA Today noted in its article on the flight announcements, “Adding leisure travel routes is somewhat unusual for October, but then again, 2020 has been anything but usual, and the coronavirus pandemic has forced the industry to take advantage of any bright spot in an otherwise bleak landscape. And with business travel–its most profitable sector–next to nonexistent, leisure travel is that bright spot.”
• Some of this might be duplicative, but here’s how one gateway destination—Miami—is experiencing a recovery in airline lift capacity: According its weekly newsletter, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau reports: “Three more airlines have resumed passenger flights at Miami International within the last three weeks, bringing the airport’s total number of passenger carriers to 19. MIA’s resurgence of air service continued with Virgin Atlantic resuming London service three times a week, Aerolineas Argentinas returning with Buenos Aires service three times a week and Copa Airlines with two weekly flights from Panama City. The airline re-launches come just weeks after another trio of carriers resumed service at MIA in early August; Volaris serving Guadalajara with two weekly flights, Air Europa with weekly service from Madrid and SWISS with two weekly flights from Zurich. Thirteen other airlines either never stopped flying or resumed scheduled service at MIA previously: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, LATAM Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa, TAP Air Portugal and Turkish Airlines.”