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Puckinflight

An all things aviation blog

Category Archives: Route Changes

Spirit Airlines, the American LCC today added three new routes to their network starting in late April. Houston-Los Angeles, Las Vegas-Philadelphia, and Las Vegas-Baltimore.

Philadelphia is in direct competition with US Airways. Baltimore replaces an America West route abandoned after the merger with US Airways.

Houston-Los Angeles is a hub-to-hub route for United so it will be interesting to see what, if any, effect it has on United’s pricing in that market. Currently, United is charging $682.00 for a non-stop and Spirit is charging $83.00, probably closes to $170.00 after all the fees, for their non-stop.

This move by spirit is good for them. They get into a market that until recently has been dominated by United. However, recent actions by United show that are backing away from their Houston hub operation. It looks like Spirit is going to go into Houston and pick up some of that slack.

H/T to Airline Route Blog.

Happy Travels!

Colpuck

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Brussels Airlines today announced that this summer they will starting service to Washington DC, reports the USA Today.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2013/01/30/brussels-airlines-tabs-washington-as-second-us-destination/1877405

This five times weekly service will provide another carrier and connection opportunity of United Airlines Washington DC hub and Brussels Airlines’  Brussels hub. Brussels Airlines has strong business class cabin that will give star alliance flyers another transatlantic choice out of Washington DC. The airline has an extensive medium/long haul route network to Africa, which complements Star Alliance Partners South African Airways and Ethiopian Airways. All in all this is a good thing for people looking for another alternative to Europe and Africa out of Washington DC.

 

Happy Travels

Colpuck

 

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Delta Airlines today loaded Atlanta – Anchorage 21JUN13 – 31AUG13 once daily for the summer season.

DL1776 will leave at 3:00 PM arriving in Anchorage at 6:30 PM. The return flight DL 1785 will leave Anchorage at 7:30 PM arriving in Atlanta at 6:35 AM + 1 day.  The flight which is 3,417 miles is just shorter than New York-London at 3,465 miles.

While it is a long flight, it is no where near the longest domestic flight which is New York to Honolulu at 4,962 miles, which is slightly longer than Seattle to Tokyo at 4,769 miles.

For the record the longest domestic flight in the world is Paris-Orly to Reunion Island which is 5,802 miles.

 

 

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Yesterday, I wrote about how an airline choses to end service. But how does an airline chose to start service? Well with most airlines new service comes from one the airline’s hubs to a new city. Evaluation of a new potential route involves evaluating potential traffic between the two cities, connecting traffic, economic factors, equipment and local issues. I am sure there is a lot more that goes into it, but that is the basic overview. What I didn’t know is that airlines can and do “crowdsource” new routes.

Today I found the website www.routesonline.com. The website is a b2b site that matches airlines with airports. Airlines can submit a RFP to the site and if there is an airport that wants that service they can put in bid for it. The same is true for the airport. If they want service they can put a proposal for service and any incentives they will offer and airlines can reach out to them. I never really thought the internet would be used for this purpose, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The internet is used for everything these days.

Happy Flying!

Colpuck

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http://www.examiner.com/article/new-direct-flights-between-miami-and-prague

Starting an airline is hard. Seriously it is really hard. Airlines have huge fixed costs, planes, staff, facilities, ect. Airlines have huge amounts of regulation that also discourage startup. I can think of only three start-ups in the past few years that have stuck around, JetBlue, Virgin America, and Vision Airlines. Of those three only JetBlue is really prospering. The numbers of failed start-ups is long and undistinguished. Now we have new carrier coming to the U.S., Travel Service. Travel Service is a Czech charter carrier that has decided to start regular service from Prague to Miami on a 737. Yes you heard that right 737 service.

Now 737s can fly Trans-Atlantic routes. Private Air flies 737 Trans-Atlantic service for KLM, Suisse, and Lufthansa in an all-business class configuration. Now, this is going to be regular service with coach service. Since, coach service crams more seats into the plane, the planes are heavier. This means they carry less fuel, and have a shorter range. There is no way this could ever be a non-stop flight. Travel Services has added in a fuel stop in the Azores to compensate for this. Even with the fuel stop, the flight is much shorter than connecting service in the U.S. or Europe; so if you are going from Miami to Prague this is the way to go.

Convenience asides this flight is not going to last, if it starts at all. I am sure there are people that want fly from Miami to Prague and the return. However, the number of people who actually want this flight is quite small. Delta want to try something similar with the Azores, they were going to use the Azores as a scissors hub to Africa. People would fly to the Azores from Atlanta and then split off into a half-dozen Africa flights, this service never got off the page. I firmly expect this to be the same with the Travel Service flight. It looks bad on paper, and that’s where it will stay.

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Spirit Airlines is another one of those Ultra Low Cost Carriers that live in the margins of the U.S. Aviation market. Perhaps best known for their cheeky advertising and $9.00 fares that rarely add up to $9.00; they have been frequent targets of DOT enforcement for violating fare disclosures. Today however, they are in the news for a different reason. Via press release, http://ir.spirit.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=702720, they have announced service from Houston to Chicago and Las Vegas, joining their existing service to Dallas.

Spirit has been expanding their service out of Dallas for some time now. It is surprising that Sprit would announce service not just from Houston but to a major operation for Southwest and a hub-to-hub route for United. People who write aviation blogs and have opinions about the effects of low cost expansion will tell you that this will have no real impact on United’s or Southwest’s operation in Houston. I think those people are wrong. It’s true spirit makes its own markets. They target people who do not use air transport and would not without Spirit otherwise travel. However, there will be some leisure travel that will move to Spirit from both WN and UA. WN is in the middle of dramatically increasing its Houston operation while UA is in the process of trimming theirs. Spirit will continue the trend of draining passengers away from United. This drain will further decrease the profitability of UA’s Houston operation. Whether or not this decrease will accelerate or increase UA’s pull back remains to be seen.

Spirit has largely gone unnoticed by the legacy carriers. Their aggressive expansion over the past couple of years suggests that they are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. UA and WN have for the most part peacefully co-existed in Houston. That balance that existed before the merger is largely gone with United ceding ground and markets to Southwest. With Spirit’s entry into the Houston market this suggests that the Houston market will rebalance again.

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Today, Allegiant Air announced that they will be starting service between Phoenix Mesa airport and Honolulu. This service will be three times weekly with an afternoon flight outbound and a morning return the following day. This marks the first time Allegiant has really gone head-to-head with a US legacy airline. Allegiant has been primarily a low-cost leisure airline bring passengers from airport that do not see much if any major air service to Las Vegas. However, recently the airline has been changing that model. Over the past two years or so Allegiant has been making moves to acquire second hand Boeing 757-200’s and open service to the Hawaiian Islands. This is not Allegiant’s first route to Hawaii. Previously, Allegiant has announced service to Honolulu from Bellingham WA, Eugene OR, Santa Maria CA, Stockton CA, Boise ID, Fresno CA, Las Vegas NV, and Spokane WA. Allegiant is set to compete with Alaska Air on the Bellingham route (which Alaska started to preempt Allegiant service). As you can see these routes, with the exception of Bellingham, are not served by any other airline.

This new service from Phoenix Mesa will compete at least indirectly with US Airways service from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport where US offers 10x Weekly service during the Winter season. An unscientific search shows Allegiant pricing round-trips out at $378.00, with Allegiant’s bag and seat fees the price rises to $580.00 approximately depending number of bags and seat selected.  US Airways is currently charging $803.00 for a flight on the same days, plus similar fees. Currently, Allegiant’s flights do not come up in Expedia and Orbitz Phoenix-Honolulu searches. I don’t know if that will change or even if US will take Allegiant seriously in this market. United’s one-stop service is about half of US’s and with bag fees and such is about equal to Allegiant’s all in fare.

Allegiant is a leisure carrier, it is interesting that they chose to go head-to-head with US Airways and to do so in Phoenix which is also home to a large Southwest Airlines operation. Allegiant is building up Mesa with flights into other destinations. It’s clear from the routes announced that Allegiant intends to have a large presence in Phoenix. Living near Phoenix, I can state that fares out of Phoenix have been generally been tied to Southwest Airlines. Allegiant, intends on at least some level to change the two incumbent carriers. The question is whether or not this service will be accepted by the local market as competing with US Airways and Southwest. Currently Mesa just announced service to Denver on Frontier and there is service to Dallas on Spirt Airlines.

Personally, I hope this service sticks around, because the fares are too high out of Phoenix.

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UA and Airbus revealed today though a press release that UA intends to buy 10 A380-800 aircraft for trunk routes between the US and LHR.

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