Air Travel News
Briefs: Qatar adds a U.S. route; Swiss introduces bag pick-up
In news of international airlines, Qatar Airways announced plans to add a fourth U.S. gateway; Swiss International will pick up passengers' luggage — for a fee; Air Canada eyes a new low-cost subsidiary; and British Airways' parent might seek a stake in American Airlines.
• Qatar Airways said it plans to begin new daily non-stop service next spring to Chicago O'Hare from its home base of Doha, Qatar. The ORD route would be the airline's fourth to the U.S.; it already flies to New York JFK, Washington Dulles and Houston Bush Intercontinental. Qatar said it will use a two-class 777-300ER on the Chicago route, which will start April 10, 2013. Qatar isn't the only Middle Eastern airline expanding its U.S. presence; Dubai-based Emirates will launch service next month (September 12) to Washington Dulles, with a three-class 777-300ER.
• Swiss International Air Lines — a Lufthansa subsidiary that goes by the brand name SWISS -- is teaming up with ground handling partner Swissport to offer passengers departing from its Zurich hub a baggage collection service. Passengers can book the bag pick-up from anywhere in Switzerland up to 48 hours before their scheduled departure. Cost depends on the distance of the delivery. Users can go straight to security and to the gate at the airport. The service can be reserved at the time of flight booking at www.swiss.com, or afterward at www.zurich-services.swissport.com.
• Air Canada is planning to launch a new low-cost affiliate in 2013, eventually building it up to operate as many as 50 aircraft, the company said. It will start slow, however, with only three to five planes in its fleet by the end of next year. The new unit is expected to operate only on international routes, concentrating on leisure markets in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and perhaps eventually expanding to Europe. The new unit is expected to fly 767s and A319s.
• Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company International Airlines Group, said in an interview with a U.K. newspaper that his company might try to purchase a minority stake in American Airlines. Citing reports of a possible merger of AA with a competitor like US Airways or Delta, he told the Financial Times that an equity involvement with bankrupt American could solidify that airline's place in the global Oneworld alliance, which BA is anxious to protect. Walsh noted that Delta used just such a tactic to secure Brazilian carrier Gol's place in its SkyTeam alliance, with a $100 million investment in that airline.