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THE BRIEFING FOR DECEMBER 13-27, 2007
By Joe Brancatelli


· You Can't Get There From Here Anymore
· Alternate Carriers Launch a Wave of New Flights
· Going Over There? You Have Lots of New Options
· Should You Continue Flying on Maxjet Airways?
· More Hawaii Flights From Southern California
· Air India Will Join the Star Alliance...Eventually


You Can't Get There From Here Anymore
Last week's Counter Intelligence talked in general terms about how and how quickly the Big Six and its commuter carriers are pulling down their domestic capacity. Now we've got some specifics about what routes you'll no longer find. At Delta Air Lines, the carrier's nascent Los Angeles hub will lose nonstops to Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; and Raleigh-Durham. Also going: all service in McAllen and Corpus Christi, Texas, and Tupelo, Mississippi. United Airlines is dropping its flights from Los Angeles to Ontario and John Wayne/Orange County. As previously reported, US Airways is slashing another dozen routes from its former hub in Pittsburgh. And Mesa Air's Air Midwest division is dropping flights to Albuquerque from Farmington and Roswell, New Mexico. More (literally) to come in the weeks ahead.

Another Wave of New Flights From the Other Guys
While the Big Six contract domestically, the alternate carriers continue to bulk up their service. Virgin America, for example, will launch three daily flights between San Diego and San Francisco on February 12. It will also begin flying from Seattle next year. Three daily flights to San Francisco begin on March 18. Three daily Seattle-Los Angeles flights launch on April 8. Virgin America uses Airbus A320s configured with coach and first-class cabins and at-seat television. … Meanwhile, JetBlue Airways continues to connect the dots with more flights between existing cities on its route network. January 8 brings flights to Fort Myers, Florida, from both White Plains and Buffalo, New York. And March 6 is the launch date for flights between Orlando and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. … AirTran Airways has a new round of expansion on tap, too. From New York/LaGuardia, it will add flights to both Tampa and Daytona Beach, Florida, on February 14. From San Juan, it will add flights to Atlanta and Orlando beginning on March 5. Also new is Tampa-Newport News, which starts on February 14. … Finally, Southwest Airlines will continue to expand in March and April. San Francisco-Phoenix flights begin March 8. On March 17, Southwest will launch three new routes from Philadelphia: Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and St. Louis. And flights between Denver and San Diego begin on April 4.

Going Over There? Then You Have Lots of New Options…
The overseas gold rush of routes continues apace, with U.S. and international carriers adding new service with dizzying abandon. Here's what has just been announced. Singapore Airlines begins a Houston/Intercontinental-Moscow-Singapore route on March 21. The flight will operate with Boeing 777-300s configured with first, business and coach classes. … Lufthansa begins a Seattle-Frankfurt route next March with three-class flights on 221-seat Airbus A330-300s. … SAS Scandinavian will wait until next fall to link San Francisco and Copenhagen. It will use Airbus A340s configured with business, upgraded coach and traditional economy classes. … Delta Air Lines launches nonstop daily service between New York/LaGuardia and Bermuda on April 5. … United Airlines begins flights between San Francisco and Guangzhou, China, on June 18. It'll use three-class Boeing 777s on the route. … On the flip side, Icelandair is dropping service from Baltimore-Washington on January 13.

The Strange Case of Maxjet Airways
The crowded market for flights between the United States and London may be claiming its first casualty: Maxjet Airways. Last Friday (December 7), Maxjet temporarily suspended trading of its shares on AIM, a division of the London Stock Exchange. Flights to London/Stansted from its New York/Kennedy, Los Angeles and Las Vegas gateways have continued without disruption since then, but the financial announcement that the airline promised has yet to materialize. The thinly traded carrier has been sustaining heavy losses in the brutally competitive U.S.-U.K. market and has been forced to discount heavily to keep up its load factors. The question for business travelers, however, is a simple one: Is it worth risking booking future tickets on a carrier with suspended shares and real question marks about its future financial viability? I say no, partially because there are plenty of other options--and partially because Maxjet has been shamefully silent about its current conditions. Except for vague protestations of "business as usual," the carrier has done nothing to reassure potential customers.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Here's good news for Hawaii-bound flyers: Beginning January 7, Aloha Airlines will fly three nonstops a week between John Wayne/Orange County and Lihue, Kauai, and three weekly nonstops between San Diego and Kona, Hawaii. Boeing 737s will be used on both routes. … Air India will join the Star Alliance although no specific date was announced. … A rather bland and toothless "passenger's rights" bill scheduled to go into effect in New York State next month has nevertheless drawn the ire of the Air Transport Association (ATA), the airline trade and lobbying group. The ATA goes to federal court next week to try to block the law.
ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright © 2007 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.