Air Travel News
Briefs: SkyTeam adds a new member; Canadian flyers get new rights
In news of international airlines, the global SkyTeam alliance has taken on a new member in the Middle East; Canada’s government has decreed a new consumer rights policy for air travelers; Japan gets a new low-cost airline; and a European entrepreneur reportedly plans to start a low-fare transatlantic carrier.
• The newest member of the SkyTeam alliance, led by Delta and Air France-KLM, is Middle East Airlines, the flag carrier of Lebanon. MEA flies to 30 international destinations from its Beirut base, which is served by SkyTeam members Air France, Alitalia, Saudia and TAROM. MEA also serves major connecting hubs like Rome and Paris CDG. Members of Delta SkyMiles and the loyalty programs of other SkyTeam members can now earn and redeem miles on MEA flights.
• Canada’s Transportation Agency has ruled that the country’s three leading airlines – Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat – must give consumers more options when a flight is delayed or canceled, or when passengers are bumped, due to reasons under the airline’s control. The government said in such cases, the airlines must let the passenger choose whether he wants to be rebooked to a later flight – even on another carrier – or take a refund. If overbooking or flight cancellations result in the passenger canceling a trip or missing a connection, he is entitled to a free trip back home and a full refund.
• Jetstar Japan is the name of a new low-cost carrier that started up in Japan last week, operating domestic services from Tokyo Narita to Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa. It is a joint venture of Japan Airlines, the Qantas Group, Mitsubishi and Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. Its fleet is expected to grow from the current three A320s to 24 within a few years, and it is expected to start adding flights to nearby international destinations next year.
• The trade journal Air Transport World reports that a European entrepreneur is planning to launch a low-fare transatlantic carrier as early as next year. He is identified as Julian Cook, who previously founded a Swiss regional carrier called Baboo. Cook told Air Transport World that he expects to use “densely configured” (400-440 seats) A330-300s and to charge fares starting as low as $86 one-way, plus taxes, on routes between the continent and North America. He told the publication that the proposed airline – called FlyA – was originally intended to operate out of the U.K., but that he decided against that option due to that country’s high air passenger taxes. He said the airline could be located in one of three countries and would fly to the U.S. east coast, but no cities were identified.