Air Travel News
Briefs: New aircraft coming at UA, DL, SkyWest; SW adds routes
In news of U.S. airlines, United is getting ready to receive its first Boeing Dreamliners, and also announced another major aircraft purchase; Delta proceeds with plans to acquire scores of Southwest/Airtran planes; SkyWest will bring a new kind of regional jet into U.S. markets; American announces another market for its newest Boeing wide-body; and Southwest adds one key route and expands another.
• Been waiting for United to start flying the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner? United, the North American launch customer for the innovative aircraft, announced that it expects to get its first 787 in late September and put it into service sometime this fall. The company didn’t say which route would get the first new plane. The United 787 will have 219 seats – 36 in BusinessFirst, 72 in Economy Plus and 111 in regular economy. United said it expects to put five Dreamliners into service before the end of the year; it has ordered 50 of the planes, with deliveries continuing through 2019. Meanwhile, United also announced a new order for 150 Boeing 737s, to be delivered from 2013 through 2022. The order includes 100 737 MAX 9s – a new fuel-efficient model – and 50 737-900ERs.
• Delta said it has finally completed a previously announced deal to acquire 88 Boeing 717-200s from Southwest/AirTran, after securing approval from its pilots’ union for the transaction. The planes are currently being used by AirTran on secondary routes. Deliveries to Delta will begin next year, continuing through 2015. Delta said the 110-seat 717s will have 12 first class seats and 15 extra-legroom Economy Comfort seats as well as Wi-Fi service, and will be used mainly to replace 50-seat regional jets.
• Business travelers flying on shorter or less busy routes will almost invariably find themselves in regional jets built by Canada’s Bombardier or Brazil’s Embraer. But now SkyWest – which operates regional feeder services for Delta, United, US Airways and Alaska – is bringing a new player into the game. SkyWest has signed an agreement in principle to buy 100 regional jets from Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. The Mitsubishi planes will have up to 90 seats, and deliveries will begin in 2017.
• American Airlines announced another international market for its new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft: The company said it expects to put the new plane into service between Los Angeles International and London Heathrow in June of 2013. AA previously announced plans to deploy the 777-300ER on its JFK-LHR and DFW-LHR routes starting in February of next year, and on its DFW-Sao Paulo route beginning in December 2012. The three-class aircraft will have fully-flat first and business class seats with direct aisle access, Main Cabin Extra seating in economy, and Wi-Fi throughout.
• Southwest has acquired takeoff and landing slots at Washington D.C.’s capacity-constrained Reagan National Airport from Spirit Airlines, and pending government approval, said it expects to use them to begin service from St. Louis in October, operating two daily roundtrips. This month, Southwest began new service into DCA from Austin. Meanwhile, Southwest also announced its AirTran subsidiary will increase service between Baltimore/Washington International and Ft. Lauderdale from four daily roundtrips to as many as seven starting September 6; Southwest itself has three daily flights in that market.