The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
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Business Travel Briefing for Aug. 24-Sept. 7, 2017
The briefing in brief: American Airlines overhauls its route map to duck Delta. International discount carriers arrive in Middle America. What's in an airport name? Plenty if the name is Orlando. Everything is coming up Marriott everywhere. More discount flights to Tel Aviv. And more.
American Airlines Overhauls Its Route Map to Duck Delta
American Airlines is remaking its route map and there's an inescapable conclusion: It wants to stay out of the way of Delta Air Lines. That shouldn't surprise you since American chief executive Doug Parker is a pacifist when it comes to competition. Back when he ran US Airways, for example, 98 percent of the carrier's flights touched one of its fortress hubs. He's clearly following the same prescription at American. The airline is dropping at least two international routes from its New York/Kennedy hub, where it is losing the battle with Delta. Gone are flights to Manchester, England, and to Zurich. American is also cutting back to one daily flight to Paris/CDG, a route dominated by Delta and joint-venture partner Air France. It will also drop its Boston-Paris/CDG run and kill LAX flights to Minneapolis, another Delta hub. Moreover, its recently launched Los Angeles-Auckland flights will be cut to seasonal service. What's new? Summer flights from JFK to Denver. And while it'll trim overall capacity by about four percent at its Philadelphia hub, American will add some international service, including seasonal flights to Prague and Budapest. It'll also resume Philadelphia-Zurich summer service and add summer nonstops between Chicago/O'Hare and Venice. One other note: American will finally launch its LAX-Beijing flights on November 5 using Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.
Discount European Flights Come to Middle America
The influx of routes and seats from low-fare/high-fee transatlantic carriers continues unabated. But now those airlines--and traditional discounter Icelandair--are coming straight to Middle America. Cleveland, for example, hasn't had a nonstop to Europe since 2009 when United Airlines dumped London/Heathrow flights. Now Cleveland has two. On Tuesday (August 22), Icelandair announced it would fly nonstop to its Reykjavik hub four times weekly beginning in May. The next day, WOW Air announced it, too, would fly Cleveland-Reykjavik starting in May. But WOW didn't stop there. It'll also launch flights next May to Cincinnati, Detroit/Metro and St. Louis. Detroit is a Delta Air Lines hub, of course, and Cincinnati still gets occasional love from Delta, but St. Louis hasn't had Europe flights since American Airlines bailed on the former TWA hub in 2003.
JetBlue Airways will begin service to one of its original New York start-up cities--Syracuse--from its Boston/Logan focus city. A daily roundtrip using E190s launches on January 4.
What's in An Airport Name? Plenty If the Name is Orlando
Distant airports have long branded themselves with the name of the nearest big city. The airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, for example, calls itself Manchester Boston Regional even though it is 50 miles and a state line from Boston. Narita is actually 45 miles from central Tokyo. Newburgh/Stewart is 65 miles from Manhattan, but it's trying to rebrand itself as an airport serving New York City. But woe to the airport that calls itself Orlando. The city's "official airport," Orlando International (MCO), is about 10 miles from the heart of Orlando, and it is spitting fire at two other airports using the city's name. Sanford (SFB) is 25 miles away and calls itself Orlando Sanford International. And the airport in Melbourne (MLB) now calls itself Orlando Melbourne International even though it is about 70 miles away. "It's misleading, confuses travelers and it is cynical," complains one MCO official I spoke to this week. "It's just wrong." Of course, right and wrong have little to do with it. MCO authorities don't want Orlando-bound flyers to use the other airports and deprive it of revenue. Melbourne officials make no bones about its intentions, noting that adding Orlando to its name has increased the number of clicks it receives on the Net. Besides, insists a lawyer representing Melbourne, the name dispute "is a fight looking for a problem."
Tucson, Arizona, has lost its only international flight now that Aeromar, the Mexican airline, has ended its five weekly flights to Hermosillo.
Denver has a new connection to Canada. WestJet launches service to Calgary starting March 8. The daily nonstop will operate with Boeing 737-700s.
Clarksburg, West Virginia, is getting some love from United Airlines. Its SkyWest commuter carrier will launch flights to United's Chicago/O'Hare and Washington/Dulles hubs. There'll be six weekly flights on each route starting November 1 with CRJ200 aircraft.
Everything's Coming Up Marriott Almost Everywhere
Marriott already has 6,000 hotels and 30 brands in 122 countries, but that clearly isn't enough. The chain continues to expand at a breakneck clip, especially with limited-service brands. For instance, you'll find new Fairfield Inn outposts in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and Hendersonville, Tennessee. It has also opened a TownePlace Suites in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; a Courtyard in Deptford, New Jersey; a Residence Inn property in Owings Mills, Maryland; and a SpringHill Suites in Huntington Beach, California. Meanwhile, Starwood Hotels opened a dual-branded Aloft and Element complex in downtown Austin at the intersection of Congress Avenue and 7th Street. It also opened a fifth Four Points in Houston, this one three miles from Intercontinental Airport. Marriott hasn't ignored its full-service category, either. A 333-room Marriott opened in Omaha and a 304-room Renaissance opened in Plano, Texas, at the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and Highway 121. It's part of the Legacy West Complex that is already home to the headquarters of JC Penney and Toyota's U.S. operations.
Business Travel News You Need to Know
Tel Aviv flyers take note: The discounters are coming. Ryanair says it will launch daily flights from Rome/Fiumicino starting October 29. And WOW Air will launch daily flights from Reykjavik on September 12.
American Airlines flyers take note: You'll no longer receive complimentary Main Cabin Extra or Preferred seats when you buy full-fare coach tickets or claim unrestricted AAdvantage coach awards. You will now have to pay for that minimal upgrade because that's how American rolls now.
Delta Air Lines is bailing on flights to Quebec City. Flights from New York/Kennedy end on October 25.
On-time statistics compiled by the Department of Transportation will be more comprehensive next year. A lowered traffic threshold means 18 airlines will be required to report on-time performance compared to 12 carriers this year. Five of the new carriers are commuter airlines. The other is Allegiant, the low-fare/high-fee leisure airline.
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