Monthly Archives: March 2017

American begins a strategic relationship with China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner B-2733 (msn 34927) LHR (Antony J. Best). Image: 921994.

American Airlines on March 28, 2017announced it has committed to make a $200 million (US) equity investment in China Southern Airlines, creating a strong foundation for a long-term relationship between two of the world’s biggest carriers. China Southern is the largest airline in China and is the ideal carrier for American, the largest airline in the world, to build a relationship within this critically important market.

 

China Southern’s primary hub is located in Guangzhou (CAN) with the majority of its transpacific flights positioned there, while American flies to Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG) from its hubs in Chicago (ORD), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX). The carriers are planning to give travelers not only the amenities, features and the products that they want at different price points, but also a bigger network that serves the markets to which they want to travel.

Later this year, the two carriers expect to begin codeshare and interline agreements that will give customers access to many more destinations in China, as well as North and South America. American customers will be able to access nearly 40 destinations beyond Beijing and more than 30 destinations beyond Shanghai. China Southern customers will gain access to almost 80 destinations beyond LAX, San Francisco (SFO), and New York’s Kennedy Airport (JFK) in North and South America. The expected codeshare routes are anticipated to include the ability to earn and redeem AAdvantage® Miles, through-bag checking and the ability to book travel on a single ticket. The planned routes operating under the interline agreement are anticipated to include through-bag checking to the traveler’s final destination.

American currently offers daily service from DFW to Hong Kong (HKG), PEK and PVG; LAX to HKG and PVG; and ORD to PEK and PVG. All flights to PEK and PVG are operated on the airline’s state-of-the-art Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (below), while its HKG flights are operated using its flagship Boeing 777-300. American also has Chinese-speaking flight attendants and offers fully lie-flat seats in first and business class cabins on all of its transpacific flights between China and the U.S.

American Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N807AA (msn 40625) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 933327.

Above Copyright Photo: American Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N807AA (msn 40625) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 933327.

American Airlines aircraft slide show:

Top Copright Photo: China Southern Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner B-2733 (msn 34927) LHR (Antony J. Best). Image: 921994.

China Southern Airlines aircraft slide show:

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Alaska to retire the Virgin America brand in 2019 but will adopt many brand elements

Virgin America Airbus A320-214 N844VA (msn 4851) SEA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 928791.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America on March 22, 2017 shared their vision for the future of the combined carrier, as the company solidifies its status as the West Coast’s premier airline.

The group continued:

After careful consideration, the combined company will adopt Alaska’s name and logo, retiring the Virgin America name likely sometime in 2019. However, the combined airline will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and the relentless desire to make flying a different experience for guests. The goal is to create a warm and welcoming West Coast-inspired vibe.

Alaska has been actively growing the airlines’ newly combined networks since closing the merger in December. Earlier this month, the airline announced 21 new markets with 25 new daily departures out of San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California – marking the largest addition of routes in the company’s history.

Alaska Airlines' "More to Love" merger livery

Above Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines (Alaska + Virgin America) Boeing 737-990 ER SSWL N493AS (msn 41727) (More to Love) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 936924.

In addition to low fares, network growth and award-winning service, Alaska will spend the next few years making major enhancements to its already award-winning guest experience and incorporating favorite elements of the Virgin America experience.

Enhancements include:

  • Modern, warm and welcoming vibe – Guests will start to see some of the new Alaska brand personality come to life throughout 2017, to create a warm and welcoming West Coast vibe throughout the guest journey. Music from fresh new artists will be featured on planes, in airport lobbies and at gates. In 2018, Alaska will debut an entirely redesigned cabin with new seats and amenities, and has already started to retrofit select Boeing aircraft with expressive blue mood lighting. Modern, stylish uniforms by fashion designer Luly Yang will roll out in mid-2019 for flight attendants, customer service agents, pilots, mechanics and ground crew.
  • Satellite connectivity – Alaska’s entire fleet of Boeing 737 passenger aircraft will be equipped with high-speed satellite Wi-Fi beginning in fall 2018, with the remainder of the Airbus fleet to follow. Both fleets are expected to be fully satellite-equipped by the end of 2019.
  • More premium seats – Building on Alaska’s new First Class and Premium Class seating sections that debuted earlier this year, premium seating will be expanded across the Airbus fleet beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018. The number of First Class seats will increase by 50 percent (going from eight seats in the Airbus First Class cabin to 12) and are customized for enhanced comfort, featuring 41 inches of pitch, improved seatback storage pockets, cup holders, footrests and personal power outlets throughout the cabin. The redesigned Airbus cabins will also feature 18 new Premium Class seats with 35 inches of pitch and complimentary beer, wine and cocktails.
  • The country’s top-ranked frequent flier program – In 2018, Alaska Mileage Plan will become the sole loyalty program for both airlines, offering guests more rewards, an expansive global partner network and the only major airline loyalty program that still rewards a mile flown with a mile earned on Alaska and Virgin America flights. Members of Alaska Mileage Plan enjoy some of the most generous benefits in the industry including complimentary upgrades, award travel starting at 5,000 miles one-way (plus taxes and fees) and a faster path to elite status compared to other airlines. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, members can earn and redeem miles to more than 900 destinations worldwide.
  • Complimentary upgrades – With 50 percent more premium seats being introduced to the Airbus fleet, elite loyalty members will enjoy the most generous complimentary upgrades in the industry. Mileage Plan MVP Golds and above are upgraded to First Class or Premium Class 75 percent of the time (based on average historic system wide rates of upgrade) on Alaska Airlines flights. Complimentary upgrades on Airbus aircraft will debut for the first time ever in late 2018.
  • Free movies – In January, Alaska launched a temporary promotion offering its entire catalog of more than 200 movies and TV shows for free. Starting now, free entertainment on guests’ own devices will be a permanent feature on its Boeing fleet and the same free library of movies and TV shows will expand to Airbus aircraft via Red entertainment system in August 2017. Guests on Airbus aircraft will continue to enjoy access to early release movies for purchase.
  • Free Chat™ – In January 2017, Alaska became the first and only U.S. airline to offer Free Chat onboard and will expand Free Chat to Airbus-operated flights in August 2017. Guests can stay connected to friends and family on the ground via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage.
  • West Coast-inspired food and beverage – Alaska and Virgin America continue to enhance their fresh, healthy, West Coast-inspired onboard food and beverage menus. Guests of both airlines enjoy craft brews, premium wines and delicious food options. By June 2017, Alaska First Class passengers will be able to pre-select meals before they fly, and by early 2018, Alaska’s Main Cabin passengers will be able to pre-pay for their meals before they fly. Food pre-ordering will be extended to Airbus flights sometime in the future.
  • Lounge expansion – By early 2019, guests will be able to relax in refreshed and expanded airport lounges in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, as well as new lounges in San Francisco and at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The expansion plans will double the square footage of Alaska’s airport lounges. Members also currently enjoy access to more than 60 partner lounges throughout the United States and around the world.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America along with their regional partners, fly 40 million customers a year to 118 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba.

Top Copyright Photo: Virgin America Airbus A320-214 N844VA (msn 4851) SEA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 928791 (all others by Alaska Airlines).

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show:

Virgin America aircraft slide show:

Ryanair takes delivery of the 450th Next-Generation Boeing 737-800

Ryanair's 450th Boeing 737-800

Ryanair and Boeing on March 20, 2017 celebrated the delivery of the airline’s 450th Next-Generation 737-800. This significant milestone has been reached in less than two decades, with the Irish low-cost carrier taking an average delivery of 25 737-800s per year since 1999.

With more than 80 unfilled orders for Next-Generation 737-800s, Ryanair is also the launch customer for the 737 MAX 200, with 100 unfilled orders. The 737 MAX 200 can accommodate up to 200 seats, increasing revenue potential and providing airlines with up to 20 percent better fuel efficiency per seat than today’s most efficient single-aisle airplanes.

Ryanair carried 119 million passengers last year with 1,800 daily flights to more than 200 destinations. The Dublin based carrier is the largest 737-800 customer in the world and the largest Boeing operator in Europe.

The pictured EI-FZF arrived at the Dublin base on March 21, 2017 after a nonstop flight from the Seattle area. EI-FZF does not carry any special markings.

Copyright Photo: Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS WL EI-FZF (msn 44779) DUB (Michael Kelly). Image: 937323.

Southwest to put the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 into revenue service on October 1, 2017

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) is planning to introduce the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 into revenue service on October 1, 2017. According to Airline Route, the carrier will use nine aircraft to inaugurate service on October 1, 2017.

The actual inaugural flight will be flight WN1 from Dallas (Love Field) to Houston (Hobby), the original WN route.

Image: Southwest Airlines.

Air Transat celebrates 30 Years of flying

Air Transat celebrates 30 Years of flying

Air Transat (Montreal) on February 15, 2017 unveiled the first of its 30th anniversary aircraft, displaying their new anniversary logo.

This special livery will be displayed on 3 of its Airbus A330-300 aircraft, which fly Montréal–Paris and Toronto–London routes, and also serve Punta Cana and Cancun.

Copyright Photo: Air Transat Airbus A330-342 C-GCTS (msn 177) (30 Years-Ans) YUL (Gilbert Hechema). Image: 937315.

Air Transat aircraft slide show:

 

Flybondi selects the Boeing 737-800 as its launch aircraft

Flybondi (flybondi.com) (Buenos Aires), a new low-cost carrier in Argentina, has selected the Boeing 737-800 as its launch aircraft. The new carrier is planning to launch operations in September 2017.

The new airline would also like to add the Boeing 737 MAX 200.

Video:

IAG to launch LEVEL, a new low-cost, long-haul carrier

International Airlines Group (IAG) is launching LEVEL – a new low cost longhaul airline brand that will take to the skies in June 2017 with flights from Barcelona to Los Angeles, San Francisco (Oakland), Buenos Aires and Punta Cana.

LEVEL will fly two new Airbus A330 aircraft branded in its own livery and fitted with 293 economy and 21 premium economy seats. Initially it will be operated by Iberia’s flight and cabin crew and will create up to 250 jobs based in Barcelona.

Barcelona has been chosen as the first European city for the launch of IAG’s new operation but LEVEL will look to expand its flights from other European cities.

Fares start from €99/US$149 one way.

Checked luggage (in addition to a free cabin bag), meals, seat selection and the latest movie releases will be complimentary for customers flying in premium economy. Those travelling in economy can chose what they want to buy based on a menu of choices. All customers will have access to next generation inflight technology with a wide range of onboard entertainment options. High speed internet connectivity will be available with prices starting at €8.99.

LEVEL’s customers will be able to earn and redeem Avios – the loyalty currency for IAG’s airlines. This will give them the opportunity to fly to 380 destinations across the Group’s network.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “LEVEL is an exciting new IAG airline brand which will bring a stylish and modern approach to flying at prices that are even more affordable. It will benefit from having the strength of one of the world’s largest airline groups behind it.

“LEVEL will become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. It will complement our existing airline portfolio and further diversify our current customer base.

Image: IAG.