Quite a few notable events in the airline industry the past couple of days include:
- American Airlines today took delivery of their first Boeing 777-300ER, N717AN. It’s actually airborne as I type on its way to Dallas where it’ll eventually sport American’s new livery. Passenger service is scheduled to begin January 31 from Dallas to Sao Paulo.
- Delta Air Lines has purchased a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, launching a joint venture between the two airlines. This will give the two airlines about 25% of the U.S. to UK market, positioning them as #2 behind the American-British Airways stronghold share of 60%. Once the deal is approved (end of 2013), the ability to earn and burn miles between carriers will exist, as well as reciprocal lounge access for elites and full-fare premium cabin passengers. And I’m sure Delta will be championing them to participate fully in SkyTeam. Whether that actually happens given Virgin’s “one-off” alliance-building history remains to be seen.
- Virgin America will launch flights to Newark beginning April 2013. Three daily nonstops are planned from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Hopefully we’ll see some good fare wars between VX and United in those markets.
- Lufthansa on Monday swapped out a 747-400 for the 747-8i on the Los Angeles to Frankfurt route. Flight 456 departs Frankfurt daily at 10:00 a.m. arriving at LAX at 12:40 p.m. The return flight, LH 457, departs LAX at 2:50 p.m. with an arrival back in Frankfurt at 10:45 a.m. the following morning. From my experience, this route is pretty difficult to snag a First Class award seat… but I’ll be trying!
- Service on Cathay Pacific might get a bit more… er… U.S. airline-esque as flight attendants are at odds with the carrier over a pay raise. Instead of striking, they’re reportedly considering customer-focused actions. “We will be selective in providing our services,” union general secretary Tsang Kwok-fung told the AFP. ”This could include not smiling at passengers, not providing certain types of beverages — such as alcohol — or stop serving meals,” he said.