The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business-Travel Briefing for September 8-22, 2016
The briefing in brief: JetBlue and Delta will duke it out at Boston/Logan. LaCompagnie and British Airways cutting all-business class flights to London. Delta and Korean Air are making nice again. American juggles overseas routes. Airlines banning Samsung Galaxy Note 7. And more.
JetBlue and Delta Are Going to War at Boston/Logan
Without much resistance, JetBlue Airways invaded Boston/Logan airport a decade ago and quickly became dominant player in the market. These days, its share of Logan traffic is nearing 30 percent, far outpacing American (22 percent) and also-rans Delta and United (about 12 percent each). But JetBlue's easy ride may be over as Delta has decided that it sees opportunity at Logan. Delta recently announced it would launch flights to Nashville and San Francisco and bulk up schedules on its existing routes to Seattle-Tacoma, Milwaukee and Orlando. But JetBlue isn't backing down and this week said it would increase its Logan schedule to 200 daily flights, up from the current 140. Besides the previously announced six daily Logan-New York/LaGuardia flights, which would put JetBlue in direct competition with the Delta Shuttle, JetBlue will add flights to San Francisco and launch six daily flights to Atlanta. That will put JetBlue in direct competition with Delta on flights to Delta's hometown hub. JetBlue also promises to launch Atlanta flights from New York/Kennedy, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Sixteen-year-old JetBlue briefly served Atlanta in its early days, but bowed out of Hartsfield in 2003, at the height of the turf war between Delta and AirTran Airways.
If You're Not Flying to Heathrow, London Seems Like a Losing Bet
Even when financial conditions are sketchy and traffic is down, the New York-London route is the most prestigious transatlantic run and by far the most profitable. But there are limits even to the so-called NyLon run. If your airline is not flying to London/Heathrow, its chances of survival are fairly weak. That was reaffirmed this week when two airlines slashed flying at secondary London airports. La Compagnie, the French all-business class airline, dropped its Newark-London/Luton route after 16 months of trying for an English beachhead. The last flight will be September 25. And British Airways, which has been flying two weekday flights between New York/Kennedy and London/City Airport, says it will cut back to one beginning October 30. London/City is close to Canary Wharf, the new center of British banking, and BA has been using a specially configured Airbus A319 with just 32 business class seats. La Compagnie blamed uncertain business conditions surrounding Brexit for the decision, but most observers think Luton, without a direct rail link to central London, is simply an airport too far for flyers. BA didn't give a reason for its decision, but London's uncertain future as an EU banking center after Brexit is surely part of the calculation.
Delta and Its SkyTeam Frenemy Korean Air Making Nice Again
There's been no love lost between Delta Air Lines and its SkyTeam partner Korean Air in recent years. Delta tried to pressure Korean into a joint venture, but Korean refused. Delta then pettily slashed the SkyMiles earnings travelers could accrue when they flew Korean. It also downplayed the Korean codeshare and expanded its cooperation with China Eastern. But now the two frenemies are trying to patch up their relationship. The two carriers announced this week that they will code-share on Delta's new Atlanta-Seoul run, which will operate with a Boeing 777-200LR. The two carriers will also begin code-sharing on more flights in the months to come. Delta's new flights to Seoul begin on June 3. It hasn't flown the route with its own equipment since the summer of 2009.
American Airlines is juggling its international route network. From May to September next year, it will operate nonstops to Rome and Amsterdam from its hometown hub in Dallas/Fort Worth. The Rome run will use Boeing 777-200ERs and the Amsterdam route will use Boeing 767-300ERs. It'll also add seasonal Chicago/O'Hare-Barcelona flights using Boeing Dreamliner 787s. But American is also dropping seasonal flights to Brussels and Zurich from its Philadelphia hub and cancelling its seasonal Chicago/O'Hare-Zurich run. Also gone, New York/JFK to Birmingham, effective January 6.
Air Canada says it will launch nonstops from Vancouver to Dallas/Fort Worth on February 5. The daily flights will be operated with 75-seat CRJ-705 aircraft.
Here's Your Weekly Scorecard of New Hotel Openings
It looks like we've finally hit the lodging tipping point. The major chains are opening properties so fast that the pace of construction is finally beginning to impact room rates. RevPAR (revenue per available room) is slowing dramatically, major rating firms say, and that means we're seeing lower nightly room rates. But that can't stop the flow of properties already in the pipeline and hotels continue to gush forth at a record rate. Here's what's new this week.
Starwood has opened a 272-room Westin in Jakarta, Indonesia, and a 119-room W Hotel in Punta de Mita, Mexico.
Marriott has opened a 131-room Residence Inn in Las Vegas and a 103-room Fairfield Inn in New Orleans.
Hyatt has opened a 200-room Andaz hotel in the ByWard Market district of Ottawa, Canada.
Hilton has opened an Embassy Suites in the historic Plymouth Building in Downtown Minneapolis and unveiled a dual-branded Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites operation in the NoMa district of the District of Columbia. It also has put the Hilton name on the Carlton Hotel in central Edinburgh, Scotland.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Delta Air Lines says its multi-day computer meltdown last month, which it first tried to blame on a power failure at Georgia Power, cost the carrier $100 million in lost revenue.
Lufthansa is the first European carrier to participate in PreCheck, the TSA's security-bypass system. It is available to Lufthansa flyers with PreCheck privileges wherever the TSA maintains PreCheck lanes.
WestJet and British Airways are ending their code-share relationship on October 16.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users take note. The exploding batteries are making the airlines nervous. The Federal Aviation Administration in the United States says you shouldn't use or charge the devices in-flight and should not pack them in checked bags. And three Australian airlines--Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia--have banned their use in-flight.
This column is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. 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.