United adds routes, Virgin Blue rebrands & steps up codeshare with Delta, American wants beauty & Delta gets a tax break

Several airline news stories caught my attention during the last week, and I’ve summarized the highlights below:

  • United Airlines & Continental Airlines added three new routes from their hub at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport (IAH) this week. ExpressJet is operating daily nonstop flights to Cedar Rapids (CID) and Grand Junction (GJT) under the Continental Express name using Embraer ERJ-145 single class jets. Shuttle America is operating daily service to Montreal (YUL) under the United Express name using twin-cabin ERJ-170 aircraft. Those CID & GJT flights clock in at 845 and 978 miles respectively, so not necessarily my idea of fun flying on such a small aircraft with limited onboard service.
  • Virgin Australia is now officially the rebrand from Virgin Blue and V Australia, done in part to pull itself up to the big leagues and capture a greater share of the lucrative business travel market within Australia. Richard Branson was on hand yesterday in Sydney to unveil two aircraft painted in the new livery, as well as show off the rather comfortable looking intra-Australia business class cabin.
  • In separate but related news, Delta Air Lines has expanded their limited codesharing agreement with Virgin Australia adding the additional destinations of Adelaide, Auckland, Canberra, Christchurch & Perth to the already established cities of Brisbane and Melbourne. In the U.S., V Australia customers can now connect to Delta flights from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas & San Francisco, in addition to the pre-existing cities of New York and Orlando.
  • The flight attendant union over at American Airlines is criticizing the carrier for a “Face of Your Base” contest, where flight attendants vote on who “looks best in the airline’s new scarves, ties and striped shirts.” The contest winners go on to appear as models in a photo shoot, but the union thinks it reinforces discrimination-based themes of young and thin flight attendants. My opinion? It’s totally fine, and was even created by a team of flight attendants and field managers.
  • Finally, Delta Air Lines was granted a lucrative tax break from Georgia governor Nathan Deal, allowing up to $30 million in savings on jet fuel taxes over two years. Oddly, supporters are claiming the deal as necessary to “keep Delta in the state,” which I find hard to imagine Delta would ever leave Atlanta. The tax break itself began several years ago when jet fuel was at its highest, so since Delta has been in a better financial situation as of late, opponents think the tax break is unnecessary.

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