Category Archives: Airplanes and Airports

Asiana to Fly First A380 Flight on June 13

By Jack Harty / Published March 22, 2014

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Courtesy of Asian Airlines

Asiana Airlines has outlined its initial Airbus A380 operations. As of now, it appears that Asiana’s inaugural A380 flight will fly from Seoul to Tokyo Narita on Friday, June 13. When it takes delivery of its first A380 early this summer, Asiana will become the 11th airline to operate the A380 and the second airline based in South Korea to take delivery of the A380.

Initial Asiana A380 Operations

Asiana Airlines has released information about its initial A380 operations. However, this is subject to change.

June 13-July 23, 2014

Asiana will fly the A380 daily between Seoul and Tokyo Narita from June 13 until July 23. The flight will depart Seoul at 0900 and arrive into Narita at 1110. The return flight will depart Narita at 1310, and it will arrive into Seoul at 1540.

Additionally, Asiana will begin flying the A380 six times a week (Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun) between Seoul and Hong Kong from June 13 until July 24. The flights will depart Seoul at 1950 and arrive into Hong Kong at 2240. The return flight will depart at 0040, and it will arrive into Seoul at 0510.

July 24-August 14, 2014

Asiana will fly the A380 daily between Seoul and Tokyo Narita from July 24 until August 14. The flight will depart Seoul at 0900 and arrive into Narita at 1110. The return flight will depart Narita at 1310, and it will arrive into Seoul at 1540.

Additionally, Asiana will fly the A380 daily between Seoul and Hong Kong from July 24 until August 14. The flights will depart Seoul at 1950 and arrive into Hong Kong at 2240. The return flight will depart at 0040, and it will arrive into Seoul at 0510.

Asiana will also fly the A380 daily between Seoul and Osaka Kansai from July 24 until August 14. The flights will depart Seoul at 1045 and arrive into Osaka Kansai at 1225. After two hours on the ground, the A380 will arrive back in Seoul at 1615.

Lastly, Asiana will offer A380 service five times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun) between Seoul and Bangkok. These flights will be operated from July 25 until August 13 the flight will depart Seoul at 1830 and arrive in Bangkok at 2205. The return flight will depart for Seoul at 0110, and it will arrive at 0845.

August 15, 2014

Asiana will fly the A380 five times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun) between Seoul and Hong Kong. The flights will depart Seoul at 1950 and arrive into Hong Kong at 2240. The return flight will depart at 0040, and it will arrive into Seoul at 0510.

In February, Asiana announced plans to fly the A380 daily between Los Angeles and Seoul, starting July 30, 2014. However, Asiana has quietly pushed back the start date, and it will not start flying the A380 to Los Angeles on August 15. The flight will depart Seoul at 1450, and it will arrive in Los Angeles at 0950. The return flight will depart at 1220, and it will arrive in Seoul the following day at 1720.

Meet Asiana’s A380

Asiana has ordered six A380s, and the carrier plans to use it for long-haul routes to cities such as Los Angeles and New York, and it also plans to deploy the A380 on dense routes in north Asia to cities such as Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita.

It will take delivery of two A380s in June, two next year, and two in 2017.

Asiana’s A380s will have 495 seats. There will be 12 first class seats on the lower deck, 66 business class seats on the upper deck, and 417 economy seats (106 on the upper deck and 311 on the lower deck).

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Asiana’s A380 Seat Map
Courtesy of Asian Airlines

Asiana’s Premium Class Product

The A380 will boast Asiana’s First Suite Class product. According to the airline’s website, “We maximize your in-flight privacy by providing seats with two sliding doors, the first suite of its kind to be offered by a Korean airline. The full flat bed stretching 210cm in length is equipped with the world’s largest 32in HD personal monitor, guaranteeing a unrivaled viewing experience.”

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Asiana’s First Suite Class product
Courtesy of Asian Airlines

The A380 will boast Asiana’s Business Smartium Class product. According to the airline’s website, “Business Smartium provides a premium business class in-flight experience with its staggered seat layout that offers direct aisle access from every seat allowing unobstructed movement by passengers around the cabin, the 180-degree reclining bed-type seat.”

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Asiana’s Business Smartium Class
Courtesy of Asian Airlines

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Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.

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United Plans Domestic 787-9 Flights

By Jack Harty / Published March 12, 2014

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The Boeing 787-9. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive

More details about United Airlines’ first 787-9 flights are starting to emerge.

Matt Miller, United’s Managing Director for Japan and Pacific Sales, told Australian Business Traveller that the airline will take delivery of its first 787-9 in July, with another to follow later in the summer.

“We will take delivery of both 787-9s in summer [2014], we actually get the first one in July, and we’ll be flying them domestically before we launch (Melbourne-Los Angeles) at the end of October” explains Miller, UA’s Managing Director for Japan and Pacific Sales. The initial destinations will include Denver, Houston, and Los Angeles. You can read more of what Mr. Miller had to say about the first domestic Dreamliner flights as well as additional details on where to find the jets on Australian Business Traveller.

Last month, United Airlines announced that it would fly the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on a new direct flight between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia starting October 26, 2014.

United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be have 252 seats. There will be 48 seats in BusinessFirst (in a 2-2-2 configuration), 63 Economy Plus Seats, and 141 United Economy Seats (in a 3-3-3 configuration).

In 2012, United Airlines took delivery of North America’s first Boeing 787. The aircraft was delivered in mid-September, and it went through a certification process with the FAA before it made it flew its inaugural flight on November 4, 2012 from Houston to Chicago.

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Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.

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Virgin America Goes After Dallas Love Gates as Competition Heats Up

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published March 5, 2014

VX A320Virgin America announced intentions to turn Dallas Love Field into a focus city on Wednesday. The carrier says it will add eighteen departures from the city daily starting in October 2014. There is one minor problem, however: It doesn’t own any gates at the airport.

At least not yet. The carrier is seeking to win control of two gates at the coveted downtown Dallas airport. The gates are currently owned by American, but thanks to the DOJ merger settlement, the carrier is being forced to give them up.

Should Virgin be successful four cities would see service in 2014 following the expiration of the Wright Amendment’s travel restrictions. Unsurprisingly, the first two destinations will be the carrier’s current hubs of Los Angeles LAX and San Francisco. Each would receive three flights per day at first, going to four in 2015. The other two are recently acquired New York LaGuardia, and Washington Reagan (DCA), both of which would see four roundtrips per day. Chicago O’Hare will be added in “early 2015″, with two flights per day.

Virgin only recently acquired the gates and slots in New York LaGuardia and DCA. Both were a product of the AA/US merger settlement with the DOJ that the airline is trying to capitalize on in Dallas.

The new flights to Chicago, New York, and Washington DC represent a shift away from west coast-centric hub and spoke service. Almost every existing flight for the carrier operates either into or out of its two California hubs, the lone exception being a flight from New York JFK to Las Vegas.

The niche carrier already maintains a presence in the Big D via Dallas DFW Airport, fifteen miles away. It began serving LAX and San Francisco from the city in 2010. If it is awarded the Love Field gates it would abandon its operations at DFW. Its posh and polished product and vibe would present a unique contrast to the existing carriers at Love, including populist Southwest and legacy carriers such as Delta.

Not the only hat in the ring…

DAL-SIGN-1Virgin is not the only carrier pre-emptively claiming the two gates. Delta announced a planned “expansion” of services at the airport in November, 2013. Like Virgin, it would add eighteen nonstop flights to five destinations including Detroit (x3), New York LaGuardia (x5), Los Angeles (x5), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (x3). All would be operated by regional carriers.

Delta would also add additional service to Atlanta up to six flights, all operated by mainline Boeing 717 aircraft. In a move it may later regret, it began selling tickets for the flights in December. The carrier has not yet responded to a request for comment.

EXTRA: Dallas Love Field, the Comeback Kid

Southwest Airlines, which has been holed up at Love Field since the late 1980s thanks to Wright Amendment restrictions, owns the lion’s share of the gates presently available at Love Field: sixteen out of twenty. That is not stopping it from trying to make it eighteen, however. The carrier has been actively pursuing the space from day one. Utilization details remain vague, but a Southwest spokesperson said that the “additional two gates  will allow [for]…approximately twenty additional flights and serve numerous new nonstop destinations.”

While the airline says it will “actively participate in the process of re-allocating American’s gates at Love Field” it no doubt has more to lose by being passed up. Unlike both Delta and Virgin, both of which already operate out of DFW, Southwest is stuck in Love Field. It can move to DFW in theory, but not without giving up gates at Love Field – a move it clearly doesn’t wish to make. “We don’t have the option of serving DFW without a penalty…Southwest should [receive] the gates and the airlines who are currently serving DFW could do so there.”

The carrier announced its first post-Wright Amendment flight restriction destinations last month, on February 3rd.

The DOJ has not set a timeline on making a decision.

EXTRA: Dallas DFW may get even bigger

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Visiting Korean Air’s Headquarters at Gimpo Airport

KEHQ1 After reviewing in detail the ‘Excellence in Flight’ that Korean Air (KE) proudly advertises around the world, it was time for Airchive.com to head on and explore where all the KE magic begins: its headquarters.

For such a massive airline, one would think its main offices must be quite large. As a matter of fact, they are. Located at Gimpo Airport (western end of Seoul, about 9 miles from the city center), the massive building displays a gigantic ‘Korean Air’ billboard on its top. Gimpo Airport, formerly known as Kimpo International Airport, used to be Seoul’s main international gateway before Incheon (ICN) opened in 2001. Today, Gimpo is the second largest airport in the country, serving as a domestic/regional hub for KE, Asiana, Jeju Air, T’way Airlines, Jin Air, Eastar Jet, Air Busan, Japan Airlines, ANA and Shanghai Airlines.

KE_HQ_02KE_HQ_03

At this location, KE trains and prepares all of its crew – all the way from ground to in-flight staff. There’s also the airline’s main catering center located in front of the main building where all hot meals are prepared and shipped to Incheon for what they call “assembly.” Korean also caters for many other airlines in the region, including Malaysian, who has a particular limitation given its Islamic passenger majority. Apparently, KE went through a tough certification process to be allowed to cook this specialty. The building’s surroundings are well secured, with a high security protocol mandatory for all personnel and visitors, for which pictures in-site was mostly restricted. Upon entering the massive building, a gorgeous KE Boeing 747-8i model is on display next to a Renault Formula 1 car sporting the airline’s branding. As one climbs through the elevator and reaches upper floors, a great view of the rear maintenance hangar can be appreciated. This is where the airline handles their Boeing 737 fleet maintenance.

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The building also has several conference halls and auditoriums. At the moment of our visit, several presentations were being given to hundreds of staff members, all impeccably uniformed. It is very notable how KE devotes a large amount of effort in training their in-flight crew to the best of their abilities, while also making sure they all look sharp and elegant.

The dining halls in the building are the most remarkable we have ever seen at any airline headquarter. There are over five buffet-style restaurants available for thousands of workers who spend most of their days making Korean one of the best carriers in the planet. One of the surprises we came across with was two fantastic Private Jets parked at the main hangar, both in-sight from the buildings dining halls. These two belonged to KE’s corporate jet division, Korean Air Business Jet.

Extra: Flying the world’s most spacious A380 in Business Class – Korean Air
Extra: In-flight Review: Flying Korean Air’s Queen of the Skies – Upper Deck

Korean Air Business Jet

At the moment of our visit, the Korean Air’s corporate division jets were parked facing each other at the maintenance hangar. The two aircraft, a Boeing 737BBJ and a Bombardier Global Express XRS, are often leased for Business or Luxury travel by Government or Private VIPs. KE_HQ_05 KE_HQ_04

The Korean Air Business Jet product is indeed quite fascinating. The airline advertises this service with the slogan “Your time is uniquely valuable to you.” Through this concept, the airline allows its most premium passengers the choice, convenience and privacy of its Private Jet service, served by the most proficient flight attendants and crew.

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Boeing 737 BBJ

The Boeing 737BBJ is equipped with four bedrooms and six VIP seats in a luxurious “First Zone” (front side of the plane). In its “Business Zone,” however, 180-degree flat reclining seats also provide a comfortable solution for those passengers who don’t need to sleep privately.

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The cabin layout of this fantastic jet can be modified upon request by the client. It can vary from a 16-seat layout, up to a 28-seat configuration for higher density travel. The aircraft can fly up to 6,301 miles with 16 passengers on board, and 6,000 miles with 28 passengers – about twelve hours of non-stop luxury.

Flexjet Connect Program

KE_HQ_27The smaller Private Jets offered in the program are all manufactured by Bombardier. These work under the “Flexjet Connect Program,” which allows passengers to fly without a long-term commitment, and a more on-call basis. This program flies passengers on their own schedule to more than 5,000 airports in the U.S. and Central/South America from Korea. This service also features a private car which picks passengers up to/from the airport of their choice. The aircraft used for this operation are the Bombardier Global Express XRS, Challenger 300 and LearJet 45XR

Private Benefits

KE_HQ_47 The Korean Business Jet service offers quick and easy check-in and boarding procedures with dedicated staff who assists the passenger all the way from check-in until boarding; private lounges at smaller airports combined with the airline’s global network of First Class rooms; a dedicated in-flight service; the best Korean and Occidental award-winning in-flight dining, all created by a team of chefs; and the comfort and safety provided by the best private fleet in the industry. With this impressive portfolio, Korean Air commits in meeting the ideal business partner of those who need the privacy and effectiveness of flying with luxury.

EXTRA: Flying South Korea’s cool Low-Cost Carrier, Jin Air!

Korean Air

There is no question that Korean is one of the best carriers in the world. This can easily be measured by their consistency in each one of their flights, offering an impeccable service full of Korean culture. In 2012, the airline managed to transport 16.93 million passengers on its international network, and 7.35 million domestically. As for its cargo division, they carried over 1.42 million tons to international destinations, being a detrimental part of their service portfolio. KE flies to 13 cities within South Korea and to over 112 cities in 44 countries around the globe. The airline has a total of 147 aircraft in its fleet, all operated and serviced it by the best possible team of people in all of the airline’s hubs. The visit to their headquarters just confirmed these facts. Korean does offer excellence in flight.

Special thanks to Korean Air for inviting Airchive.com, Ashley Chung for her hospitality and for making this report possible.

———————————————————————————————————————————— About the author: Enrique Perrella is a Senior Correspondent at Airchive.com, based between Caracas, Venezuela and Miami, Florida. Enrique holds a Bachelors Degree in Airline Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Masters Degree in Aviation Business Administration (MBA) from LUISS Business School in Rome, Italy. He is also a Commercial Pilot with type ratings in different aircraft, among which his favorite is the Gulfstream Twin Commander 1000, which he flies regularly between Venezuela and the U.S. Enrique is founder and president of Venezuela’s first and only Aviation Photography/News organization, SVZM Aero. He has covered, since 2009, all editions of the Le Bourget, Paris, and Berlin Air Shows, and unique events such as the delivery flight of Turkish Airlines’ first Boeing 777-300ER from Seattle to Istanbul and the re-inaugural ANA Boeing 787 flight from San Jose to Tokyo. His work has been published in worldwide publications, such as Airliner World Magazine, Airliners Magazine, Avion Revue, Aero Magazine and Airchive.com. Enrique’s passion for aviation began a few days after he was born, when his father bought him a VIASA A300 model that was much bigger – and heavier – than him. Follow him on Instagram (enrique77w) and connect via his Facebook page. Reach him via email at eperrella@svzm.aero.

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United Receives Tentative Approval to fly to Haneda

By Jack Harty / Published March 1, 2014

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Photo by Jack Harty

United Airlines has received tentative approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate flights between San Francisco and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. This comes several months after United applied for the rights to fly into Haneda.

Hawaiian Airlines also sought after takeoff and landing rights at Haneda. The company proposed to launch flights from Kona, Hawaii.

The Transportation Department said United’s flight from San Francisco “would introduce a new U.S. carrier at Haneda and would promote competition by giving business and leisure travelers an additional choice for connecting service.” United says it looks forward to completing the approval process.

Extra: Tokyo Haneda Heats Up With International Flights

Slots into Tokyo’s Haneda Airport are highly coveted as it is the closest airport to the city of Tokyo. Flights from the U.S. to Haneda are part of an open-skies accord between the US and Japan, which allows four daily roundtrip flights. Hawaiian operates service between Handea and Honolulu, and Delta serves Haneda from Los Angeles and Seattle.

Almost immediately after American Airlines announced that it would discontinue service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport and Haneda, United applied to take over American’s takeoff and landing rights.

Extra: Tokyo Haneda Airport Photo Gallery


Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at Jack.Harty@airchive.com.

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FIRST PHOTOS: Final Passenger DC-10 Flight

As the final McDonnell Douglas DC-10 passenger flight comes to a close, our very own Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren is on board and has sent back some amazing pictures. While we have a full story coming up later, we wanted to pass along these historic pictures as soon as possible. Enjoy!

At the same time, news on the aircraft’s future has surfaced. While it was rumored that the aircraft was to be donated to a museum in Seattle (not clear if Future of Flight) it turns out they have no room for 6 months but Biman’s crews are not licensed to fly the DC-10 after Feb 28. Because of this, the aircraft will return home and be sold for scrap after scheduled scenic flights. Airchive will be on board one of the scenic tours Biman is offering before the aircraft is chopped to pieces.

EXTRA >> Airchive Readers Share Their Stories of the DC10

 

The very last passenger DC-10 rests in the sunlight prior to its final commercial flight on February 20, 2014.

The very last passenger DC-10 rests in the sunlight prior to its final commercial flight on February 20, 2014. (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

The air stairs have been pulled back, and the airplane is ready to go. (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

The air stairs have been pulled back, and the airplane is ready to go.

Bernie Leighton from Seattle, WA and Maarten Van Den Driessche from Belguim hold a Bangladesh flag in front of the airplane.

Bernie Leighton from Seattle, WA and Maarten Van Den Driessche from Belguim hold a Bangladesh flag in front of the airplane. (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

Captain Shoaib Chowdhury prepares the aircraft for departure from Dhaka Bangladesh.

Captain Shoaib Chowdhury prepares the aircraft for departure from Dhaka Bangladesh. (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

Flight engineer Selim Azam makes adjustments to the aircraft while in flight.

Flight engineer Selim Azam makes adjustments to the aircraft while in flight. (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

The final DC-10 flight lines up on the runway

The final DC-10 flight lines up on the runway (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

Bernie Leighton Aaron Willis Tilburg from the Netherlands share a meal and stories on board the flight.

Bernie Leighton Aaron Willis Tilburg from the Netherlands share a meal and stories on board the flight. (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

Meals are prepared on the airplane's galley.

Meals are prepared on the airplane’s galley. (Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

Hafiz with Biman

Hafiz with Biman

Breakfast is served to the thirty some-odd passengers on board this unique flight.

Breakfast is served to the thirty some-odd passengers on board this unique flight.

Each passenger received a special final flight certificate from the airline. Passengers travelled from around the globe to catch the flight, such as Guy Van Herbruggen from Belgium.

Each passenger received a special final flight certificate from the airline. Passengers travelled from around the globe to catch the flight, such as Guy Van Herbruggen from Belgium.

 

Extra: The History of the DC-10, Part One: Taking Shape and Taking Off

Extra: Remembering the DC-10: A Pilot’s Perspective

Extra: The History of the DC-10, Part Two: Problems, Popularity, and Post Production

Extra: McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Sales Brochures and Memorabilia from 1970 and 1971.

Extra: United Airlines DC-10 Launch Brochure from 1971

Extra: United Airlines DC-10 Scrapped at Las Vegas, NV in 1995

Extra: American Airlines DC-10 Being Converted to Trans-Aero Russian Airlines at Marana, AZ in 1996

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Airchive Readers Share Their Stories of the DC10

Edited by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published February 20, 2014

As the last passenger DC-10 made its final trek toward retirement from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Airchive readers pause to remember time spent aboard the giant triholer.

Photo courtesy Jeff Magnet

Photo courtesy Jeff Magnet

R. D. Sussmann: In the early 1980s, my family relocated from Washington, DC to Boston, MA. We would frequent the trip back to DC, and at the time NW had a sizable number of flights from BOS to DC – both DCA and IAD. In the summer of 1983, I had my first up-close meeting with the DC-10.

I had already flown the Airbus 300 (EA, from BWI to YOW) and had my encounters with the 727, the DC-9, and the BAC-1-11. At the time, IAD was still a few years from becoming the nightmare that it would morph into, and the observation deck above the restaurant was still active -though in that year IAD was still pretty much a ghost town. You would have the occasional flights roaming in/out of the airport, but nothing like it has become since. After lunch, I headed up to the deck, and looked out – and saw her come into view for the first time. After she landed & rolled out, turning to face east on the distant parking apron was my first DC-10 clad in red, white, blue, and silver waiting for me on that hot July afternoon.

The anticipation was tremendous – again, in 1983 no jetways – so we boarded the old mobile lounges (there were two used for our flight) and bounced our way across the apron and ramp out to the side of the aircraft. What amazed me most about the DC-10 was the height – those jack screw driven lifts seemed to growl forever as they lifted us to the side of the plane. The operator of the mobile lounge popped out of his cab, and rolled the gantry sleeve up to the door, then knocked on it (I thought this was quite amusing…) A ‘pop’ and the 2L door slid in and disappeared up into the ceiling, with two NW F/As standing inside, greeting the (few) passengers boarding.

I was awed by the size of the interior – so broad and big, the large windows down the sides of the cabin – which itself seemed to sprawl out in front of me forever. I recall the colors of the cabin vividly: Turquoise carpet with matching yellow and turquoise seats in the familiar 2x5x2 configuration. I also recall not seeing the center-line overhead lockers, which I thought was very odd.

It took less than 20 minutes for everybody to be loaded into their seats. Since this was the continuation of Flt 78 (SEA-IAD-BOS), we were only about half full – it seemed like a ton of empty seats around the airplane. The flight attendants did their standard safety demo – and another interesting feature (to me at least) was the oxygen masks popping out of the seat in front of you – something else that was new to me.

As IAD wasn’t busy, we taxied out to the runway almost immediately, and held at the end for about a minute. Seated in the very back of the plane, I had a great view of the ginormous wing out my window, followed by the buzz-saw sounds of the engines spooling up, and a thunderous roar as we hurtled down the runway. You really got an impression of size in the DC-10, something I’d not felt on many other planes before. Climb out was rapid, and in-flight service on the 90 minute flight was NW’s peanuts, a Sprite in a plastic cup… and something that was odd to me – a ham sandwich in saran wrap for a ‘snack’ on the flight.

After ‘snack service’ I explored the back end of the plane;  the lavatories and the rear galley. My thoughts on the aft lavs were that they were larger than what I recall seeing on the 727 & DC-9, and they were an odd shape. The 70′s were in full bloom there- turquoise & yellow featured in the lavs as well.

The short flight was over too fast for my liking – and we made a very firm landing at BOS, as I recall the plane being rather heavy.

I would have all of my remaining encounters with the DC-10 on that same route – BOS-IAD-BOS over the next two years. We were regulars flying back and forth (About six times per year) and I got to know the DC-10 very well over those years, through the interior change to the ‘browns & reds’ of NW’s mid-80s refurbs, to finally seeing them return to long-haul service after the 757s arrived in 1985. I have very fond memories of NW 78/79 and the DC-10 that called it home for so many years. I will miss the big and beautiful DC-10, and she will always fly on forever in my memories!

EXTRA: United Airlines DC-10 Intro Brochure

Photo courtesy Dylan Cannon

Photo courtesy Dylan Cannon

Dylan Cannon: My DC-10 story begins back on June 14th, 1994. My family and I were flying on American Airlines flight 283, with nonstop service from Nashville (BNA) to London Gatwick (LGW). This was back when American had its BNA hub in full swing, boasting daily flights to Europe. This was my first time on a DC-10, and I sat in row 24 of the bird. I was lucky enough to switch to a window seat after a nice lady offered it to me. We took off Nashville’s runway 20L, and off we went!

The flight was very smooth. I remember watching ”Gone With The Wind” in-flight and enjoyed an elegant meal in economy class. I slept for a few hours, and I woke up just about one hour prior to descent. When we landed in Gatwick, I remember seeing other wide bodies. I even went up to the cockpit after the flight. Great crew and a great flight!

EXTRA: McDonnell Douglas Aircraft DC-10 Memorabilia

John Jauchler: So, stories, eh? My first DC-10 flight was on American, flying DFW-LAX on a spring break trip, probably 1986. I clearly remember the group “A-Ha” with their song “The Sun Always Shines on TV” on the old vacuum tube audio system. On the return LAX-DFW segment I stayed with my sister and uncle too long in the airport bar and nearly missed the flight. I got on just as they were closing the door, but lost my non-smoking seat and had to sit in the middle of the notorious five-seat section in smoking. The lady next to me was a nervous flyer who’d brought a decent stock of her own booze on board, which she shared with me. I believe the planes on both these flights had the flight deck cameras which projected on the main cabin entertainment screens.

My next DC-10 flight would have been DFW-HNL, also on American – my honeymoon! At some point during the flight I was playing with my new wedding ring, and it flipped off my finger. The flight attendants cleared two rows (middle section) so I could look for it somewhere over the Pacific, and happily it turned up.

And the time on an SFO-ORD-BDL routing on AA, I switched flights at the airport (big fight with the gate agent over this one) so I could go SFO-JFK-BDL on the DC-10 I saw sitting at an adjacent gate (Shorts 360 on the JFK-BDL segment), got an upgrade: all the better. Other DC-10 flights I bagged include Continental NRT-GUM, Continental HNL-EWR, United ORD-PDX, and Northwest DTW-LAX. And I loaded FedEx freighters nightly for a summer in Memphis.

Paul Thompson: My first DC-10 flight was in March, 1984. I was in kindergarten and my dad took me from Houston (IAH) to Washington DC (IAD) on Continental Airlines. It was my first time on a wide-body jet, and I was awestruck! As the son of a Southwest Airlines employee, I was used to the much smaller 737-200s.

This was early in the lifespan of the Continental DC-10, and it had been delivered with a walk-up “pub” where passengers could get snacks and drinks. I thought that was pretty cool – and it opened my eyes to the existence of onboard amenities. The plane went out with less than 50 people on board, so we had a free roam of the cabin.

That trip helped cement my love of aviation (including the neat “People Movers” at IAD) and I’ll always cherish that trip with my dad. I owe a trip like that to my daughters.

Extra: (Photos) The Final DC-10 Prepares for its retirement tour 

Extra: The History of the DC-10, Part One: Taking Shape and Taking Off

Extra: Remembering the DC-10: A Pilot’s Perspective

Extra: The History of the DC-10, Part Two: Problems, Popularity, and Post Production

Extra: McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Sales Brochures and Memorabilia from 1970 and 1971.

Extra: United Airlines DC-10 Launch Brochure from 1971

Extra: United Airlines DC-10 Scrapped at Las Vegas, NV in 1995

Extra: American Airlines DC-10 Being Converted to Trans-Aero Russian Airlines at Marana, AZ in 1996

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United’s First 787-9 Route Announcement

By Jack Harty / Published February 19, 2014

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Photo by Jack Harty

Subject to government approval, United Airlines will launch direct flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia with the Boeing 787-9 on October 26, 2014. The new direct service will be operated six times a week.

If you’re flying from the states, UA98 will leave Los Angeles at 10:30PM on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, arriving in Melbourne at two days later at 9:15AM. On Thursdays, UA98 will shift its schedule one hour earlier, leaving Los Angeles at 9:30PM to reach Melbourne at 8:15AM two days later.

On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, flight UA99 will depart Melbourne at 11:15AM to reach Los Angeles at 6:50AM the same day. On Saturdays, UA99 will leave Melbourne at 3:15PM and arrive in Los Angeles at 10:50AM.

UA098 LAX2130 – 0815+2MEL 789 4
UA098 LAX2230 – 0915+2MEL 789 x24

UA099 MEL1115 – 0650LAX 789 x46
UA099 MEL1515 – 1050LAX 789 6
(Schedule information courtesy of @AirlineRoute)

The new direct service is scheduled to be operated by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

“We are excited about using the newest version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, to provide nonstop trans-Pacific service to Melbourne,” said Jim Compton, United’s vice chairman and chief revenue officer. “Our customers on these new flights will enjoy a more convenient itinerary, as well as improved inflight comfort and amenities. At the same time, we will seek to make changes to our Sydney schedule which will enable faster connections via our San Francisco and Los Angeles hubs from points throughout the Americas.”

United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be have 252 seats. There will be 48 seats in BusinessFirst ( in a 2-2-2 configuration), 63 Economy Plus Seats, and 141 United Economy Seats (in a 3-3-3 configuration).

It is also being reported that the new flights will be operated by former Continental flight attendants that are based in Los Angeles.

United will still operate flights between Los Angeles to Sydney, but it says it may retime the flights between “to allow a greater range of connections beyond the hubs and more convenient arrival times for customers travelling on connecting flights to New York and other East Coast destinations.”

The new flights are in the reservation system, along with a seat map of the 787-9. However, the seat map is in complete at the moment.

United’s first 787-9 could arrive on property as soon as this summer.

*This story will continued to be updated as we learn more info

Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at jack.harty@airchive.com.

 

 

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Florida Express Jet launching intra-Florida operations

By Seth Miller / Published February 11, 2014

AirFloridaAnother upstart operator is looking to take to the skies in Florida. Florida Express Jet wants to provide point-to-point service within the state, pulling drivers off the roads and into its 737-400 aircraft. Service will launch on 20 March 2014 using a leased aircraft offering flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Tallahassee via Orlando.

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The company has stated that all non-stop coach seats will be sold at the $69 price, without a minimum stay or advance purchase requirement. Passengers connecting between Tallahassee and Ft. Lauderdale will pay $99 for the flight. Those rates do not include tax (6% in Florida) or passenger facility charges. Those two bits add $8-15 to each one-way fare, but the total cost is still quite low. The 737 will be configured with 138 seats in coach and 12 in business class. The Coach product will launch with a 3-3 seating and 31″ pitch offering (the “A Better Coach” option is being shelved for now). The Business Class seating will be 2-2 rather than the 3-3 layout of coach and include additional legroom as well.

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Checked bags are $25 each but the wifi in-flight will be complimentary. So will snacks and sodas on board, according to the release. Customers in Better Business will also include free newspapers, drinks and hot towel service.

Florida Express Jet faces competition from Silver Airways and American Airlines (from Miami, not Ft. Lauderdale) in the Tallahassee market. Those same two, plus Spirit Air, also fly to Orlando. Fares today from Silver Airways and American are in 2-3x the rates Florida Express Jet is introducing for the last-minute walk-up fares; the new carrier’s entry into the market may help bring those down a bit. The company sees their main competitive advantages in offering a better equipped aircraft – a 737-400 jet rather than the smaller props from Silver Airways – with overhead bins plus the aggressive price point.

The plane is owned and flown by Swift Air, an Arizona-based charter operator. Swift mostly focuses on professional sports charters and other, similar customers. Another charter carrier, also based in Florida, announced a similar plan to launch scheduled service but those plans never materialized. In the case of Elite Airways, however, it was inter-state service rather than intra-state. That makes quite a difference in terms of regulatory issues and red tape.

And, while the company is selling tickets today, it is not 100% ready to launch operations. Final negotiations for gate space in Tallahassee are still on-going but both the company and the airport authorities expect to have that resolved in time for the scheduled start of service.

EXTRA: Photos, timetables, and route maps from intra-Florida carriers of yore:
Air Florida / Air South / Atlantic Gulf / Dolphin / Florida Express / PBA / Southwest inaugural to FL

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First Look: United’s Schedule Before and After Cleveland is De-Hubbed

By Jack Harty / Published February 9, 2014

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A United Airlines Boeing 737 sits at a gate on the C Concourse at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Photo by Jack Harty

Starting June 5, 2014, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport will no longer be a hub for United. Last week, United Airlines announced that they will significantly reduce their operations and de-hub Cleveland.

Starting in April, United will reduce their Cleveland operations in three stages.

  • In April, United will eliminate service to Burlington, Hartford, Madison, Manchester, Montreal, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Providence, and Raleigh/Durham from Cleveland.
  • In May, United will eliminate service to Charlotte, Louisville, Minneapolis, and Nashville from Cleveland.
  • In June, United will finish their service reductions. The last cities to be cut will be: Atlanta, Austin, Bradford (all flights will be operated under the Silver Airways brand via Jamestown), Buffalo, Columbus, Dayton, Erie, Flint, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Jamestown (all flights will be operated under the Silver Airways brand), Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Syracuse, and Toronto.
  • Additionally, 430 of United’s front line staff (ramp staff, ticket agents, customer service staff) will be out of a job by June. Also, 40 catering positions will be eliminated as well.

Current Schedule

Currently, United flies to more than 50 destinations from Cleveland. On February 27, United will fly 180 departures to 54 destinations. There will be approximately 11,657 seats available on the 180 departures. 28 of the 180 departures will be operated by mainline aircraft. 152 of the 180 departures will be operated by regional aircraft.

February 27, 2014 Cleveland Departures

February 27, 2014 Cleveland Departures Number of Flights Total Seats Aircraft Types Flying This Route
Albany 3 150 3 E145s
Atlanta 2 100 2 E145s
Austin 1 66 1 CRJ-700
Baltimore 3 150 3 E145s
Boston 4 294 3 E145s, 1 A320
Buffalo 4 196 2 Q300s, 2 E145s
Burlington 1 50 1 E145
Charlotte 3 150 3 E145s
Chicago 16 1072 2 CRJ-200s, 2 CRJ-700s, 9 E145s, 2 B737-700s, 1 B737-800
Columbus 4 187 1 Q200, 3 E145s
Dallas/Ft. Worth DFW 3 150 3 E145s
Dayton 4 198 1 Q300, 3 E145s
Denver 4 324 1 CRJ-700, 2 E170s, 1 B737-700
Erie 4 148 4 Q200s
Flint 4 148 4 Q200s
Fort Lauderdale 2 334 2 B737-900s
Fort Myers 3 452 1 A320, 2 B737-800s
Grand Rapids 4 200 4 E145s
Greenville/Spartanburg 1 50 1 E145
Harrisburg 3 122 2 Q200s, 1 Q300
Hartford 4 200 4 E145s
Houston 6 492 3 CRJ-700s, 2 E170s, 1 B737-800
Indianapolis 6 305 1 Q200, 1 Q300, 3 E145s, 1 E170
Kansas City 4 221 1 Q400, 1 CRJ-200, 2 E145s
Las Vegas 2 321 1 B737-800, 1 B737-900
Los Angeles 2 272 1 B737-700, 1 B737-800
Louisville 3 150 3 E145s
Madison 1 50 1 E145
Manchester 2 100 2 E145s
Miami 1 50 1 E145
Milwaukee 5 266 1 CRJ-700, 4 E145s
Minneapolis 2 100 2 E145s
Montreal 3 150 3 E145s
Nashville 2 100 2 E145s
New Orleans 1 50 1 E145
Newark 7 817 2 E170s, 1 A319, 2 B737-700s, 1 B737-800, 1 B737-900
New York LGA 8 420 7 E145s, 1 E170
Oklahoma City 1 50 1 E145
Orlando 4 580 1 B737-700, 3 B737-800s
Philadelphia 4 200 4 E145s
Phoenix 1 120 1 A319
Pittsburgh 2 74 2 Q200s
Providence 1 50 1 E145
Raleigh/Durham 3 150 3 E145s
Richmond 3 150 3 E145s
Rochester 3 122 2 Q200s, 1 Q300
San Francisco 1 144 1 A320
St. Louis 4 200 4 E145s
Syracuse 3 122 2 Q200s, 1 Q300
Tampa 2 334 2 B737-900s
Toronto 4 161 3 Q200s, 1 E145
Washington DCA 5 250 5 E145s
Washington IAD 6 295 2 Q200s, 1 Q400, 3 E145s
West Palm Beach 1 50 1 E145

*The number of seats may be slightly off. We selected the most common aircraft configurations based on United’s timetable.

Starting in early-April, United will begin to start reducing their operations in Cleveland. June 4 will be the last day that Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is a hub for United.

Last Day as a United Hub-June 4, 2014

Early Saturday morning (February 8), United Airlines updated their reservation system to reflect their new Cleveland schedule.

On June 4, 2014, United will operate their last departures from Cleveland to: Atlanta, Austin, Buffalo, Columbus, Dayton, Erie, Flint, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Syracuse, and Toronto. These cities are the last phase of United’s Cleveland operation reduction plan.

On June 4, United Express flight 5824 is scheduled to arrive from Chicago O’ Hare 12 minutes before midnight. United 5824 will signify the end of Cleveland being a hub for United.

United Express flight 4120 will depart Cleveland for Chicago O’ Hare at 9:05PM EST. United 4120 is scheduled to be United’s last departure from Cleveland while it is a hub.

First Day as a non-hub-June 5, 2014

On June 5, United will operate 72 departures to 20 destinations. 25 of the 72 departures will be operated by mainline aircraft while 47 of the 72 departures will be operated by regional aircraft. There will be approximately 5,847 seats available on the 72 departures.

This is subject to change. United may change which mainline aircraft types will operate the mainline flights as June 5 approaches.

June 5, 2014 Cleveland Departures

June 5, 2014 Cleveland Departures Number of Flights Total Seats Aircraft Types
Albany 2  74 2 Q200s
Baltimore 3  133 1 Q200 and 2 Q300s
Boston 4 200 4 E145s
Chicago 13  1068 7 E145s, 1 CRJ-700s, 1 A320, 3 B737-700s, 1 B737-800
Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) 2 100 2 E145s
Denver 4 394 2 CRJ-700s, 1 A320, 1 B737-700
Fort Lauderdale 1 118 1 B737-700
Fort Myers 1  154 1 B737-800
Houston 5  646 1 CRJ-700, 1 B737-700, 3 B737-800s
Las Vegas 1 154 1 B737-800
Los Angeles 3 452 1 A320, 2 B737-800s
Milwaukee
 3  150 3 E145s
New York LGA  8  420 7 E145s, 1 E170
Newark 5  578 1 E170, 3 B737-700s, 1 B737-800
Orlando 2 272 1 B737-700, 1 B737-800
San Francisco 2  308 2 B737-800s
St. Louis  2  100 2 E145s
Tampa  1  70 1 E170
Washington DCA 5  250  5 E145s
Washington IAD  5 206 1 E145, 1 Q200, 1 Q300, 2 Q400s,

*The number of seats may be slightly off. We selected the most common aircraft configurations based on United’s timetable.

The June 5 departure schedule (above) seems to be an accurate representation of United’s new post-hub Cleveland schedule. However, it is important to note that the schedule will look different on weekends. United will not fly any flights to some cities (Dallas/Ft. Worth and St. Louis to name a few) from Cleveland on Saturdays.

Update: United plans to move their 2014 Shareholders meeting in Chicago instead of June.

Contact the reporter: Jack Harty in Houston reported this story. You can contact him at jack.harty@airchive.com

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TGIF: Thank-Goodness It’s Flyday Week-End Wrap Up – February 7th Edition

By Jack Harty & Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published February 7, 2014

Thank-goodness it’s Flyday…err Friday, everyone. In this week’s edition UA kicks out styrofoam, Air France upgrades, CHS falls short, and more…

ecoskiescup-largeUnited gives styrofoam the boot: United Airlines announced it will be ditching its present styrofoam cups and replacing them with fully recyclable cups instead. The new eco-friendly cups will be unveiled in the airlines club lounges in February, and on board flights in March, according to a press release. I applaud the decision, and hope any and all carriers still using it give it the boot too.

The War Goes On: Delta filed with the DOT for permission to add service between Seattle and San Jose Del Cabo Mexico. The carrier says it seeks to commence service on or about December 18th utilizing a Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Unsurprisingly, the route is currently served by Alaska Airlines.

Who to believe?: IAG has denied Iberia’s statement that the carrier has eight A330 options on order. At the moment, Iberia is in the middle of a transformation to return to profitability and in the middle of a fleet renewal. Who to believe? Honestly, we have no idea.

VIP 788Two More: Boeing Business Jets delivered two BBJ Boeing 787-8 aircraft this week. The company would not disclose to whom the jets were delivered. To date, there have been thirteen 787 BBJ orders, three of which have been delivered.

As is customary for the jets, they were both delivered without an interior. Typically interiors are added at completion centers of the owners choosing.

Pilots Come Back: According to the Wall Street Journal, Delta is calling back all of its furloughed pilots. Plus, the company is hiring 50 new pilots prt month through early year. Later this year, they will drop the number to 20 new pilots per month through September.

Delayed: Continuing in the ongoing infatuation with Dreamliner problems a computer malfunction caused a LOT Polish 787 to be delayed a few hours. Elsewhere in the world, several flights were likely delayed and/or canceled for similar reasons. Since they were not Dreamliners, however, no one knows what/where/which they were.

Boeing Charleston: Image courtesy Boeing

Boeing Charleston: Image courtesy Boeing

Falling short: The Seattle Times published a detailed piece on the ongoing production problems Boeing’s Charleston plant has continued to face. The report details major assembly sections arriving to the Everett facility requiring extensive rework that ranged from missing hydraulic lines to unconnected wiring. Sources to the Times cited a lack of overall experience at the plant, which is only a few years old. The problems encompass both the -8 and now -9 models.

Swift ax: Allegiant is axing both Charlottesville, Virginia and Manhattan, Kansas later this month, on February 23. Normally it would not be especially newsworthy, except that the carrier began both routes only three months ago. According to the airline demand for the flights was not high enough.

Photo courtesy Air France.

Photo courtesy Air France.

Cocoon in the sky: Is what Air France says its new business class product is like. The new product, being installed on the carrier’s fleet of Boeing 777s, will feature full lie-flat in a 1-2-1 configuration. It is the same exact seat presently used by American Airlines and Cathay Pacific in their new business class cabins. If it is anything like either carrier it should be an excellent starting point. Perhaps we’ll have to give it a fly to see how it goes from there.

More Mesa: Mesa Air Group will be adding four more CRJ-900 aircraft to fly on behalf of US Airways, according to a report by Dallas Morning News. Mesa presently flies 47 of the airplanes for US, which will uptick to 51 once the new four join the fleet.

Mesa is one of a number of carriers that support regional flying for US including Air Wisconsin, Chautauqua, Republic, and Skywest. The carrier, now a subsidiary of American Airlines, also has two of its own wholly-owned regional airlines, PSA and Piedmont.

Taking a Stand: Flight Attendants at Spirit Airlines are taking a stand to improve their contracts. A majority of Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), voted against a tentative agreement with management as they are expecting more for their outstanding contributions to the profitable airline. More than 1,200 Flight Attendants will be surveyed by AFA to determine which issues matter most to the flight attendants.

And in case you missed it, we had a lot of exciting coverage right here on Airchive this week. Here’s what we have for you:

Weekend Rewind: A Look Back Into The Archive of Airchive’s Vault Of Aviation History – February 1st Edition

United Airlines Likely To De-Hub Cleveland

Houston: Korean Air is Coming Soon

Southwest Announces Post-Wright-Amendment Destinations At Dallas Love Field

Analysis: China Eastern Grows in the United States

Cleveland Responds to United’s Service Reductions

Japan Airlines Launches Vancouver-YVR’s First 787 Service

Airbus Reveals Hybrid Airbus/Qatar Livery as A350 XWB Testing Progresses

WestJet Posts 2013 Profit

A350 XWB Visits Launch Customer Qatar Airways in Doha

737 Production Line Goes to 42 and Silk Air Receives first Boeing 737

Checking in on the Southwest/AirTran Integration: San Juan

Air India 787 Diverts After Software Goes Glitchy

Planes vs. Trains: The Race from DC to NYC, Part 4

Contact the authors at jeremy.lindgren@airchive.com or jack.harty@gmail.com

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Planes Vs Trains: The Race from DC to NYC, Part Four

By Vinay Bhaskara & Jason Rabinowitz / Published February 4, 2014

*Editors note: The fourth installment in this four part series, we take a in-depth, deep-dive look at one of the most interesting transportation markets on the planet: New York to Washington DC. Long enough to fly, short enough to drive, the market is one of the more unique in the US if not the world. Today the race end as the Acela train is pitted against the air shuttle from DC back to NYC (note that the race was run back in September, 2013, and read part three, NYC to DC, here!). Read part one, on history, here!  Dive into the numbers behind the route and read part two here! 

The next morning I woke up at 5:30 am to try and get to the Capitol Building in time for our 8:15 am start. The Washington D.C. metro system is fantastic, or at least much cleaner and more comfortable than the New York City subway or the CTA trains in my new hometown of Chicago. Jason jumped onto his ten minute walk to Union Station, while I pulled out my phone and pinged the Uber app for a car. I suppose calling a car on Uber is the modern day facsimile of getting out on the street corner and hailing a taxi, but it’s much more convenient and guaranteed to accept credit cards, unlike most taxis in DC. Regardless, it only took me about 21 minutes to make it to the airport from downtown, though at that time of the day DC traffic is coming into the city from Virginia.

Jason’s Review – Acela Express WAS-NYC

On the way back from Washington to New York, we switched roles and I rode Amtrak’s Acela Express service. While Regan Airport may be close to the city center, Union Station is pretty much is the city center. The station is pretty much within walking distance of anything downtown, so catching a train right after a meeting is no problem.

Inside Union Station, a remarkable transit hub. (Credit: Jason Rabinowitz)

Inside Union Station, a remarkable transit hub. (Credit: Jason Rabinowitz)

Union Station is a beautiful transit hub, a truly classic rail terminal. High decorative ceilings, shops, and eateries make it an ideal place to spend some time before your train. Once at the gate for the 9am Acela, all the great points about the place are lost: Travelers are packed into a tiny waiting area with minimal seating, non-functional (but free) WiFi, and a looping security video. The boarding process did not begin until just a few minutes before the scheduled departure; however, we did depart on time.

Amtrak does not allow passengers on a later train to travel standby on an earlier train, even if there is room onboard. Several announcements were made that only passengers with a ticket for the 9am train would be allowed on board, with no mercy for those who arrived early. This is in stark contrast to the Delta Shuttle, where passengers on any later flight may fly standby for free if there are empty seats. This alone may be enough to convince passengers to fly.

Just like the Delta Shuttle, Amtrak uses an open seating policy. I decided to try out the quiet car towards the rear of the train, and settled into a window seat. The quiet car, marked with hanging signs from the ceiling, discourages any cell phone conversations, loud music, and dims the lights so passengers can get some sleep. This is a great amenity for those who want to rest, or focus on getting some work done on the journey.

With several different seating configurations, there is something for everyone on Acela. (Credit: Jason Rabinowitz)

With several different seating configurations, there is something for everyone on Acela. (Credit: Jason Rabinowitz)

My seat had plenty of legroom, a foot rest, massive tray (and stable) table, two 120V power outlets, and an overhead reading light. I could not possibly expect this level of comfort out of an economy class cabin on any airline running between New York and Washington, which gives the Acela a nice advantage. I was also able to set up my laptop and start working immediately after sitting down, all the way through arrival in New York. No wasting time waiting for 10,000 feet, and that provides Amtrak with a leg up in productivity. Because the shuttle flights are so quick, you are unlikely to get any work done.

Acela WiFi Speeds (Credit: Jason Rabinowitz)

Acela WiFi Speeds (Credit: Jason Rabinowitz)

Speaking of getting work done, passengers expect WiFi on this route, and Amtrak did not disappoint. While GoGo WiFi on the Delta Shuttle was available, it was quite slow and not free. Amtrak provides a free WiFi service, and the Acela was recently upgraded to a 4G connection that should theoretically be faster than GoGo. Amtrak WiFi relies on cellular carriers like AT&T and Verizon, so its coverage will only be as good as those services. I found the speeds to be pretty good, but that may be because they block all video and most streaming audio services. That is annoying, but for the greater good to ensure everyone gets decent speeds.

Amtrak arrives at Penn Station in midtown Manhattan, which is pretty much the opposite experience of Union Station. Dark, dingy, and generally overcrowded, Penn Station’s best quality is that it usually gets the job done. What Penn Station does provide, however, is direct access to the core of New York City, and you just can’t beat that. Taking a cab into midtown from LaGuardia could be quite a process in rush hour.

Vinay’s Review – US Airways Shuttle DCA-LGA

After disembarking at the far end of Terminal C (in front of gates 23-34), I walked down to the security checkpoint for gates 35-45. Regardless, I made it through security painlessly though not without waiting in a line for about fifteen minutes only subject myself to the trained monkey routine that is called “security” by the TSA. For someone who’s offended or annoyed by the process, I suppose that’s a point in favor of the train, but I don’t really mind the whole charade so it wasn’t awful. Still, the relative convenience of the Acela purely from a time perspective (given the variability in security waits), does merit mentioning as an attractive factor for those who travel the route frequently.

Inside Terminal C at Washington Reagan

Inside Terminal C at Washington Reagan

Once I cleared security, I had about an hour and a half left before my flight, so I made a beeline straight to the US Airways Club in Terminal C, which is nothing special, though certainly above average by US standards. At that time of the morning, after the early morning rush subsided, the club was relatively emptied, though it had begun to fill up rapidly by the time I left 45 minutes later. As far as the productivity factor for Acela over the Shuttle, the potential to get some work done in the lounge can offset that to some degree. Then again, as an international Star Alliance Gold member, I get free access to US Airways Clubs (a privilege I’ll be losing soon), so for those who have to pay the annual fee, it might not be that attractive of a perk. Regardless, with comfortable seating and plenty of outlets, I would have been able to get lots of work done. Since I had nothing urgent to work on that day in advance of several client calls that night, I instead settled down with a copy of The Economist and grabbed a bagel and some cereal for breakfast.

The US Airways Club at Reagan Terminal C

The US Airways Club at Reagan Terminal C

*Unrelated Tangent: My routine for flights has traditionally been to read the latest weekly edition of The Economist, while underneath the electronic device ceiling, and switch to other forms of passing the time once in the air. Looks like that will effectively end (at least the mandated part of it) thanks to the FAA.

They had one of those rolling bagel toasters (like the ovens you see at a Quiznos), and it was set too high, so the bagel came out almost burnt, but otherwise the food spread was decent. Certainly better than most domestic United Clubs (including the one that I frequent in Terminal 1 on Concourse B at O’Hare, where all you get are snacks. I think there’s a club in San Francisco where I saw a couple of pastries once, but much like United’s profits, they were marginal at best (rimshot?…. I kid… I Kid…). But regardless, the food spread was decent and I managed to get through around 70% of the magazine and a good chunk of The Wall Street Journal.

Snacks at the US Airways Club

Snacks at the US Airways Club

At t-minus 45, I left the lounge and went out to Gate 42, stopping to pick up brunch at California Tortilla. While in line, who happens to walk up but Scott Kirby, then president of US Airways and now president of American Airlines? For most people, seeing an airline executive up close in an airport is nothing special, but for avgeeks like me, it’s the equivalent of seeing Jack Nicholson at a Lakers game or Justin Bieber at a Heat game.

Boarding was relatively orderly, thanks to my Star Alliance Gold status (and thus early group access), and I settled into the aisle seat of the bulkhead on a full flight. Lacking my preferred window seat, I once again jumped into The Economist as we pulled back from the gate on time and waited in the customary fifteen minute line. Once we got in the air, the beverage service immediately began. Unlike the Delta Shuttle, the US Airways Shuttle does not feature free newspapers, though snacks, beer, and wine are all complimentary. Since it was the morning (and I don’t drink on flights anyway), I stuck to the snacks and my customary can of ginger ale as I thumbed through US Airways’ inflight magazine.

Once I finished the beverage service, I pulled out my phone and attempted to connect to GoGo’s inflight internet so that we could continue with the live tweeting of the race. No dice. So I tried again…. And again…. And again. After my fourth attempt, I gave it up settled down to try and take a nap after a late night with friends the previous evening and an early (at least contextually) morning in DC. Naturally, there was a baby with her mother seated to my left, and while there was no crying, the silence was overshadowed by the incessant kicking. Feeling magnanimous, I let it go and managed 25 minutes worth of fretful shut-eye before waking up when we touched down at La Guardia.

And then there was La Guardia. Unlike Jason, I was not flying out of the serene, Sky Club-esque Marine Air Terminal but rather Terminal C. Of course La Guardia as a whole is a dump, and that goes for every terminal there (though Delta is trying hard to change that), but I guess you could say that Terminal C is the common landfill to the Superfund site that is the Central Terminal Building. Being seated in the bulkhead, I was out the door within 15 minutes.

On the Ground in New York City

If the traffic gods smiled on Jason the day before, what I had to deal with would probably be described as mild frowning. The traffic was not awful but it was slow moving enough that I could see Jason steadily gaining on me on the Google Plus map. Because there were no delays for the Acela this time (and of course because Manhattan was unseasonably devoid of cars in mid-afternoon), the race came down to the wire, though I eventually made it to the NYSE around 8 minutes ahead of Jason.

Social Media Interaction

A key part of the race was the social media involvement. Airchive’s followers and other Social Media friends were invited to follow on Twitter (up against the 787-9’s first flight on the same day) using the hashtag #PlaneVsTrain, and the response was amazing. In addition to responses from Delta (through spokesperson) and Amtrak themselves, the #Avgeek community on Twitter became really invested in the train (rooting heavily for the plane of course), with over 1,000 tweets being sent using that hashtag over the course of the two day race. Though everyone followed along breathlessly to the finish, we didn’t reveal the winner, until now.

Race Conclusion/Implications and Future Predictions

While the plane won the race we were able to see why the Acela has become an extremely attractive option. In particular, the free WiFi and enhanced productivity (time isn’t tied up in boarding and deplaning or in flying under the 10,000 feet ceiling for) of the Acela, along with the option to avoid the TSA made the Acela a really attractive value proposition. Under normal conditions, of course the plane is still likely to win given its heavy speed advantage, but given the extreme variability of New York City traffic, the train can actually get there faster (as our second race showed). On the flip side, Jason made it to the airport so quickly before the Delta Shuttle that he could have stood by on the earlier flight, which would have torpedoed the race before it even started. So even today, there’s probably a clear advantage to the Shuttle.

But more importantly, the success of the Acela and its relative competitiveness bodes well for the future prospects of high speed rail in this country. Keep in mind of course that the Acela is nothing close to high speed rail with a maximum speed of 150 miles per hour, which is only achieved at select locations along the route due to rail gauge limitations. But if the Acela has been able to achieve success at this level despite only limited speeds, imagine what it could do if the proposed 220 miles per hour speed (targeted by 2040) was achieved? Therein lies the attractive potential of the Acela and thus the train

Moving forward, we believe that the balance of power will continue to shift towards the Acela Express, which is critical given that is the only profitable segment of Amtrak’s entire portfolio of services. US Airways will likely eventually reduce its services to 70 seat regional jets like Delta, and the two carriers will persist with the route at those levels. Given the corporate contracts tied to a presence on the route, neither Delta nor US Airways will be able to leave entirely. Still in the battle of Plane Vs. Train, it is the Train who appears to be the long term winner.

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Checking in on the Southwest-AirTran Integration: San Juan

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published February 6, 2014 / Photos by author

When Dallas based Southwest Airlines merged with Atlanta based AirTran Airways in May of 2011, it marked the beginning of a remarkable evolution at the venerable low cost carrier. For years, Southwest had been a domestic carrier only, eschewing both its own international services and code share partnerships with international partners, because its reservations system could not handle international purchases and tickets, and because the cost of upgrading the reservation system to do so was prohibitive.

But once the airline merged with AirTran, seven new international destinations (Mexico City, Cabo, Cancun, Punta Cana, Nassau, Montego Bay, and Aruba) came online, forcing Southwest had to upgrade its processes to handle international flights. In fact, the seven international AirTran destinations as well as San Juan in Puerto Rico were Southwest’s first significant overwater destinations subject to regulations such ETOPS. Some of its flights may have flown over water, but always close enough to the land that the standard aircraft and crew certifications would suffice.

EXTRA: Southwest Announces Post-Wright Amendment Destinations at Love Field

Puerto Rico in particular has been a key lynchpin in this process as the first former AirTran station to get converted to Southwest management and operations, a switchover that occurred on April 14, 2013. For Southwest, Puerto Rico has served as a test (almost a guinea pig of sorts) in the process of updating Southwest’s procedures and technology to handle overwater and international markets. Although the island is technically US soil, as an overseas territory, it is still subject to slightly different regulations than destinations within the US.

Meanwhile, on the customer facing side, Puerto Rico is Southwest’s first market where the primary customer language is Spanish. In order to better understand the conversion process and Southwest’s operation in San Juan, I spent a few hours with Southwest’s local station manager Robert Robles and Southwest spokesperson Dan Landson during a recent trip to the city.

A Southwest 737 at the gate at Concourse C at San Juan - Image Credit: Vinay Bhaskara

A Southwest 737 at the gate at Concourse C at San Juan – Image Credit: Vinay Bhaskara

For Southwest, San Juan is one of its smaller stations, with between nine and eleven flights per day, depending on the season and day of week. On the particular day that I visited, Southwest had nine departures spread across five cities; Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Atlanta, Baltimore-Washington, and Chicago Midway. Of these nine departures, two were early morning departures by aircraft that overnighted in the city with the remaining seven spread between 12:00 pm and 6:30 pm.

Meanwhile, with regards to arrivals, seven flights arrive within that block of time, with two later arrivals overnighting at the airport.

San Juan Airport was recently privatized, and the new owners Aerostar, have embarked on a significant capital improvement project. Concourses B and C were redeveloped from their present state of aged decay into a modern facility. As part of this process, the airport has migrated all of the airlines that had previously resided on the B concourse (10 gates) over to the C and D concourses (most of them to C), which forced the existing C carriers to give up a few of their gates. For example, Southwest had previously controlled gate C-28, but ceded the gate to United when the latter moved over. Regardless, Southwest’s current operation spreads over gates C-25, C-27, and C-29, which are located at the far end of the C concourse.

Gate C28 at San Juan Airport - Image Credit: Vinay BhaskaraSouthwest Gate Area at San Juan Airport - Image Credit: Vinay Bhaskara
Southwest gates in San Juan

Robles has been with Southwest since the conversion, and with AirTran for six years before that. Prior to that he was involved with the airline industry on Puerto Rico at various airports for eleven years before that with TWA and Continental Airlines. So the conversion process was not as difficult for him. Even so, it represented a significant challenge for the four Southwest employees in San Juan (Robles plus three other supervisors).

The four have to manage a team of almost 200 sub-contracted check-in, gate, and ramp employees (shared with other carriers). As far as the operating procedures at the airport on the airline side, the changeover was not particularly hectic, despite Southwest’s 35 minute turns are a lot quicker than AirTran’s schedules.

As far as regulatory changes, and differences in operating procedure, Robles says that because Southwest spent such a long time training them in whatever differences arose, and in ensuring 100% regulatory compliance, that aspect of the changeover was extremely smooth. And that’s probably the benefit of Southwest’s approach to the merger with AirTran, which I’ve (jokingly) referred to at times as the slowest merger since the reunification of Germany: all of the time spent has ensured a smooth (eventual) transfer.

Southwest Workers on the ramp in San Juan - Image Credit: Vinay BhaskaraSouthwest Ground Service Equipment at San Juan Airport - Image Credit: Vinay Bhaskara
Southwest ramp operations in San Juan

For the employees at the check in counters and at the gate, the transition to Southwest’s more antiquated reservations platform didn’t cause many major headaches (thanks again to all the time that was spent preparing for the changeover), but employees will have to be retrained yet again in 2014 when Southwest implements its new reservations system being developed by Amadeus via the Altea reservations platform. The major airport related transition has been with the boarding process, which was difficult initially for both the gate agents and the local customers to adjust to. Robles mentioned that Latin American customers are attuned to the guaranteed seating process, and migrating them over to the Southwest open seating approach took some getting used to. In particular, late arriving families who hadn’t heard of Southwest’s boarding processes can cause delays as they require passengers who have already boarded to voluntarily reseat themselves, an occasionally lengthy process.

Southwest's Boarding Process - Image Credit: Vinay BhaskaraSouthwest Boarding Groups  - Image Credit: Vinay Bhaskara
Southwest boarding lounges

In fact this has been the most significant challenge according to Robles; educating customers on Southwest Airlines and the shift over from AirTran. Part of the process has been reaching out to travel agents and familiarizing them with Southwest’s booking process and the changes that that entails (like much of Latin America, Puerto Ricans still book a large share of their travel through travel agents).

Southwest has also focused on customer education by reaching out to the local community with targeted advertising. Getting them on board with “Bags Fly Free” required the undoing of an embedded behavior – most US airlines serving Puerto Rico have checked baggage fees (AirTran did as well), though the largest one, JetBlue, does not. However, this was not necessarily a difficult process, as customers were more than happy to stop paying for checked baggage – especially important given the propensity to bring massive amounts of luggage on trips for Latin American consumers. These education efforts took many forms, but amongst the most effective was certainly the month-long booth the company placed in Plaza Las Americas, which is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, with an agent stationed full time to answer questions and build awareness for the brand.

After we discussed the operational conversion, we moved into a brief discussion of the performance of the station. With the recent cancellation of long-time AirTran stations Branson and Key West, it’s especially interesting to judge the relative performance of ex-AirTran stations in the post-merger Southwest network. According to Robles, load factors have strengthened by about 10 percentage points since the changeover (the average is somewhere in the range of 90%), which he attributes to the additional feed from Southwest’s network.

The traditional AirTran hub of Atlanta is still an important destination for connections across the country, and indeed it is the only destination to be served year round with Southwest’s larger Boeing 737-800 equipment (though this past summer, the entire operation was run with 737-800s). With regards to connectivity, Robles has empirically observed that connectivity with O&D from Texas and California tends to flow across the Florida hubs of Orlando and Fort Lauderdale while connections to the Northeast and Midwest tend to flow over Baltimore Washington and Atlanta. Chicago Midway, it can be surmised, is primarily an O&D destination.

Maps generated by the  Great Circle Mapper -  copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Southwest’s San Juan Route Map – Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Beyond the destination specific stuff, we spent a bit of time discussing the seasonality of demand. San Juan, like most Carribbean destinations, is strongest in the winter when travelers descend en-masse from the Northeast to escape the bitterly cold weather. However, there is a strong counter cyclical flow of visitors of Puerto Rican origin during the summer when demand patterns shift to favor VFR (visiting family & relatives) traffic. Robles believes that this counter cyclical flow has actually been strengthened by the changeover because of Southwest’s nationwide brand presence (versus AirTran’s concentration on the Eastern seaboard).

Looking forward for the station, both Landson and Robles stated that while San Juan is one of Southwest’s smaller stations, it is a stable one with incremental opportunities for growth. To that end, in June 2014, the carrier will inaugurate Saturday-only services to its hub at Houston Hobby, its sixth destination served from San Juan. However, while there may be opportunities to connect San Juan with more Southwest strongholds in the US, don’t expect to see the carrier using San Juan as a base for intra-Caribbean flying anytime soon. As Landson puts it, there are much “higher priority” markets for Southwest to enter in the near term (read: Washington Reagan and New York La Guardia).

We also went down onto the ramp, and aside from some interesting plane spotting, there were a couple of other fun notes which you can read about further below.

Image Credit: Vinay BhaskaraImage Credit: Vinay Bhaskara

Image Credit: Vinay BhaskaraImage Credit: Vinay Bhaskara

San Juan ultimately serves as an interesting (and successful) test case for Southwest as it looks to move forward into a full international portfolio of destinations. The lessons learnt with regards to taking it slow in retraining employees and meeting regulations has already been implemented, with the next set of international changeovers not set to take place until early to mid-2014 (on the way to full integration of the two carriers by the end of 2014).

On the customer side, Southwest will perhaps have to deal with some angst as consumers switch from the rigid boarding process employed by most carriers in the region (indeed Latin America has one of the most segmented airport experiences in the world;), and will have to ensure that it communicates properly with Spanish speaking customers in the other nations it serves and spreads information about substantial changes like “Bags Fly Free”.

That being said, the process will be smoothened by the fact that Aerostar also manages several other privatized airports throughout the Caribbean, which allows Southwest to create consistent changeover processes across destinations (though there Is the potential for danger on the cost side when negotiation with a monopolistic airport operator). And San Juan will remain an important station as the largest one in the Caribbean (and thus the troubleshooting base for minor issues at Southwest’s international destinations).

Other Random Notes

There were a few other cool snippets of information I picked up during my visit, and I thought I’d stick them on the end here. They aren’t really San Juan centric, but are certainly good bits of info nonetheless.

  • The decision to pull out of Key West, Branson, and Jackson (MS) was actually made before the carrier knew that slots would be available at Washington Reagan and New York La Guardia. Which is to say that the aircraft pulled out of these cities may eventually be used to grow Reagan or La Guardia, but that was not a deliberate process.
  • Southwest has a very interesting approach to philanthropy. At each one of its stations, Southwest has a local team known as a Giving Board. This Giving Board decides how Southwest can best serve each local community, and is given significant leeway in determining Southwest’s local charity donations. In San Juan for example, the board (in this case actually one employee originating in Chicago since San Juan doesn’t have a formal board) supports Make A Wish and Ronald McDonald (nationwide Southwest partners) but also has supported local organizations such as a philharmonic orchestra that wanted to travel to the mainland to perform. And at stations in the Continental US, the giving boards undergo the same process. This approach is an interesting insight into Southwest’s corporate culture. Despite the business model’s evolution to that of a network carrier with a hub-and-spoke model, Southwest still retains at its heart the de-centralized, point-to-point inspired corporate culture the airline was founded upon.
  • I’ve always found it hard to reconcile Southwest’s famed peanuts with the ever-increasing awareness of the dangers of peanut allergy. Well, Southwest deals with the problem by requiring customers with a peanut allergy to approach Southwest before the flight and inform the airline of his or her allergy. If they do so, Southwest will in fact notify the flight crew and will not serve peanuts at all on that passenger’s flight(s), opting for the other snacks that have been boarded. At the same time, Southwest doesn’t give a reason for the lack of peanuts, they just simply say that peanuts will not be served on the flight.
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Southwest Announces Post-Wright-Amendment Destinations At Dallas Love Field

Image Credit - Michael Slattery

Image Credit – Michael Slattery

By Michael Slattery and Vinay Bhaskara/ Published February 3, 2014

Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) announced the cities it intends to serve following the expiration of the Wright Amendment later this year. The announcement made from Dallas Love Field on Monday morning, will see Southwest add service to 15 new nonstop destinations from Love, bringing Southwest to a total of 31 nonstop destinations.

In a press conference held earlier today near its headquarters at Love Field, Southwest’s Chairman, President, and CEO, Gary C. Kelly announced big news for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex:

This has been a long time coming. This morning, I am delighted to announce that we

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly addresses the media - Image Credit: Michael Slattery

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly addresses the media – Image Credit: Michael Slattery

will be adding nonstop service to 15 destinations from Dallas Love Field following the repeal of the flight restrictions imposed by the Wright Amendment… The official repeal of the Wright Amendment federal flight restrictions signifies a turning point for the Southwest brand not just in Dallas, but from coast-to-coast… We are pleased to offer this new service to the customers of our home airport, who have waited 34 long years, and we thank the many, many folks who made this opportunity a reality. Goodbye Wright Amendment. Hello, America.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and former U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison joined Kelly and Southwest employees to celebrate the momentous occasion. Herb Kelleher, Chairman Emeritus and founder of Southwest, sitting in the front row alongside Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of the airline, beamed when asked about how he felt. “Well, we’ve been waiting for 40 years, so I feel pretty good!”

Herb Kelleher speaking with the media in Dallas - Image Credit: Michael Slattery

Herb Kelleher speaking with the media in Dallas – Image Credit: Michael Slattery

Southwest had previously been restricted to serving destinations in just nine American states from its hub at Love (Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi) as a provision of the 1979 Wright Amendment, which was designed SW Timetable route map 1988to protect Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) from competition. Signed by President Jimmy Carter in February 1980, the Wright Amendment decreed that Love Field flights could go no farther than cities within Texas, or the four surrounding states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana (the others were added over time). Airlines could only serve destinations outside of those states with aircraft seating fewer than 56 passengers, which excluded Southwest, who only had a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft seating 120 passengers or more. Ironically, American Airlines attempted short-term long-haul service out of DAL using lower capacity F-100s and ERJs as did short-lived Legend Airlines who operated an all business class service out of Love in 2000.

Extra: Dallas Love Field, Southwest, & The Wright Amendment – The Comeback Kid

Kay Bailey Hutchinson addressing the media at Dallas Love - Image Credit: Michael Slattery

Kay Bailey Hutchinson addressing the media at Dallas Love – Image Credit: Michael Slattery

The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, along with American and other airlines, had succeeded in convincing Congress to approve a law that would, in effect, protect their investment in DFW from unlimited competition out of Love. The rationale was that long-distance routes from Love would draw passengers away from DFW, thereby compromising the economic benefit and overall influence of the region’s new hub airport. Not surprisingly, Bob Crandall, chairman of American Airlines, who had recently created its largest hub at Dallas Fort Worth, argued that ‘freeing’ Love would lead to higher fares and fewer flight choices. His counterpart at Southwest, Herb Kelleher, called the amendment ‘goofy protectionism’ and argued for its repeal in front of the U.S. Congress.  In 2006, then Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson led an effort to repeal the restrictive amendment, eventually brokering a deal between Southwest, American, Love Field, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, and the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth to end the geographic restrictions on air service from Love Field. Under the new deal, geographic restrictions on air service from Love Field would be lifted, while the number of gates available for use at the airport would be reduced to 20 (of which Southwest currently controls 16). And so at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, Southwest Airlines will be free to fly nonstop anywhere it wants in the United States from Love Field.

The details of how it will use this newfound power are as follow:

Beginning October 13, 2014, Southwest will launch nonstop service to:

  • Baltimore-Washington (BWI)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Chicago Midway (MDW)

And beginning November 2, 2014, Southwest will launch additional nonstop service to

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • Washington – Reagan (DCA)
  • Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood (FLL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York La Guardia (LGA)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • Orange County,CA (SNA)
  • Tampa (TPA)

Specific flight schedules and fares for the sale of these new services will be announced in May.

Image Credit: Michael Slattery

Image Credit: Michael Slattery

The route map below shows Southwest’s network at Dallas Love prior to the expiration of the Wright Amendment. Services to Branson, MO and Harlingen, TX are currently scheduled to end in June 2014.

Maps generated by the  Great Circle Mapper -  copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

And this route map shows Southwest’s route map from Dallas Love after the expansion.

DAL post Wright Amendment

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

The expansion by Southwest positions Dallas Love Field as a competitive option for travelers on the Dallas side of the Metroplex, though the airport is far from businesses on the Fort Worth end of the ledger. Southwest becomes the third major nationwide player in Dallas Fort Worth, after American with its massive DFW hub and ultra-low cost carrier Spirit Airlines, who operates several point to point (p2p) routes from DFW. American is probably the biggest loser, though their DFW hub is a massive profit center and their corporate contracts are somewhat resistant to pressure. Southwest in recent years has made enormous strides towards positioning itself as a viable option for business travelers. Thanks to programs like  Business Select and  network evolution allowing for more connectivity, Southwest has quarter after quarter grown its corporate travel share by roughly 10% each time. And now, Southwest is a viable option, especially for independent business travelers, and small businesses in Dallas – Fort Worth. Southwest’s core travel base will also flock to the carrier for broader leisure travel – travelers considering total out of pocket travel cost (versus advertised base fares) will find Southwest a compelling value proposition even up against Spirit. However, Southwest’s rising cost base will present longer run challenges to its competitiveness in the Metroplex.

Due to the gate cap, Airchive estimates that Southwest should be able to run about 160 daily departures through its sixteen gates. The carrier currently operates 128 daily departures to 16 existing destinations, and could be expected to add an average of two to three daily departures to each of the fifteen new destinations (higher frequency – like 5x daily to hubs like Midway and Baltimore Washington; lower frequency like 1x daily to Tampa or Orange County), necessitating a few cuts to existing routes such as Birmingham, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa. Given the restrictions, we also expect much of Southwest’s expansion at Love Field to come using the larger 175 seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft. This would be a boon for air traffic at Love Field, which has stagnated since 2008, and could see the airport surpass the 10 million passengers per year mark. Southwest’s expansion is very good for the financial prospects of Love Field

Countdown Clock to Southwest service at Love - Image Credit: Michael Slattery

Countdown Clock to Southwest service at Love – Image Credit: Michael Slattery

Extra: Dallas Love Field Photo Gallery

Extra: Read the original text of the Wright Amendment

Extra: Airchive Senior Business Analyst Vinay Bhaskara correctly predicted 14 of the 15 new nonstop destinations for Southwest at Love, including 13 with 100% certainty. 

Extra: Southwest Airlines / Muse Air Vintage Route Maps & Timetables 

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Michael Slattery in Dallas Fort Worth – drmslattery@gmail.com

To contact the analyst responsible for this story: Vinay Bhaskara in Chicago – vinay.bhaskara@airchive.com

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Analysis: China Eastern Grows in the US

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published February 5, 2014

ChinaEastern A330China Eastern Airlines loaded a summer expansion of its US operations this weekend from its largest hub at Shanghai-Pudong International Airport, increasing its services to Los Angeles to double daily and New York JFK to ten times weekly (each from current daily flights) beginning June 25th, 2014.

The Shanghai – Los Angeles route will increase from daily to ten weekly flights on May 30th, increase to double daily on the 25th, and come back down to eleven weekly flights on August 18th. The route is currently served by a 322 seat Airbus A340-600 aircraft in a three class configuration (8F / 42J / 272Y). However, China Eastern is in the process of retiring its fleet of these aging quad-jets. China Eastern once operated a subfleet of ten A340-600s, but has already retired five. The remaining aircraft are plying the longest routes in its network (such as the 7,392 mile journey between Shanghai Pudong and New York JFK) and will be retired in favor of the Boeing 777-300ER, of which China Eastern has 20 on order. The Los Angeles flights will now be served with 264-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft (24J / 240Y), which represents a capacity increase of 64.0%. Competition on the Los Angeles – Shanghai sector is extremely fierce, with China Eastern, American, and United all offering at least daily service on the route. However, China Eastern will have an advantage on the route thanks to the connectivity it offers at Pudong, its largest hub, with more than 210 peak day departures to 112 destinations. Still, that’s a lot of capacity chasing passengers on a route where the per day each way (PDEW) demand in 2011 was just 408 passengers per day. Regardless, the schedules for China Eastern’s new flights are as follow:

MU583 –> PVG – LAX –> D: 1300 A: 1005 –> A330-200 –> Daily
MU585 –> PVG – LAX –> D: 2000 A: 1700 –> A330-200 –> Daily

MU584 –> LAX – PVG –> D: 0100 A: 0610+1 –> A330-200 –> Daily
MU586 –> LAX – PVG –> D: 1230 A: 1730+1 –> A330-200 –> Daily

Meanwhile, the increase to New York JFK will consist of three additional weekly flights between June 25th and August 18th. Despite much less competition (a daily United Boeing 777-200ER from Newark), the market is of a similar size as Los Angeles at 365 passengers PDEW with high yields thanks to the business ties between two of the most important financial centers in the world. Flight schedules for the carrier’s planned New York JFK operations are as follows:

MU587 –> PVG – JFK  –> D: 1130 A: 1425 –> A340-600 –> Daily
MU593 –> PVG – JFK  –> D: 1920 A: 2215 –> A340-600 –> WFSu

MU594 –> JFK – PVG  –> D: 0145 A: 0505+1 –> A340-600 –> MThSa
MU588 –> JFK – PVG  –> D: 1625 A: 1915+1 –> A340-600 –> Daily

In addition to New York JFK and Los Angeles, SkyTeam member China Eastern also serves San Francisco and Honolulu in the US (and historically served Anchorage and Chicago O’Hare as well). With China Eastern’s growth, the pace of trans-Pacific expansion from Asian carriers (such as Eva Air) continues to accelerate, putting pressure on revenues for American carriers in the Pacific as seen in the fourth quarter and full year 2013 financial results reported over the past two weeks. Still, China Eastern has the benefit of strength in the home market of Shanghai, which should allow its network to ingest these additions with relative ease.

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TGIF: Thank-Goodness It’s Flyday Week-End Wrap Up – January 31st Edition

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published January 31, 2014

Thank-goodness it’s Flyday…err Friday, everyone. In this week’s edition guy in China eats for free in first, the ARJ21 is delayed (again), love is in the air at UA, and more…

Photo courtesy Boeing

Photo courtesy Boeing

About that: The Boeing 747, painted in Seahawks colors, was pretty awesome. But it begs the question, does Boeing really have a 747 sitting around with no other use than to be made into a giant flying billboard? The answer, as we know, is yes. But it does provide an unfortunate reminder that, thus far, the 747-8 continues to be a poor seller. In any case, I do applaud the company for giving something to the community, and that giant 12 was pretty sweet. #GoHawks #yourmoveDenver

Uh, nevermind: Lion Air, the fast-growing Indonesian low-cost-carrier known ’round here for its fantastic ability to exit runways, plans to cancel orders for five Boeing 787 and instead convert them to 737s. The airplanes were to have gone to the carrier’s subsidiary Batik Air, according to a Reuters report.

Will Travel to Toke:  Apparently there’s been a measurable increase in flight searches to the mile-high-city of Denver to get, well, high. According to a report by travel data company Hopper, the only rational explanation for the increase is the state’s recent legalization of marijuana. Even more interesting, the travel searches were the highest in states that had the strictest drug laws in the country.

Washington state also legalized the plant, recently prompting the Seattle PI to answer a reader question: Is marijuana allowed in Sea-Tac Airport? Short answer, yes…though, be warned, the game changes the moment you board an airplane.

Flying first and eating free: Some guy in China purchased a single first-class refundable ticket with China Eastern and proceeded to eat, free of charge, for the better part of a year in the airline’s lounge in Xi’an International. The airline began investigating the gentleman when someone noticed his ticket had been rebooked over 300 times in a single year. When the airline confronted him on the matter he cancelled his refundable ticket, received the full refund, and called it a day. I say well played, sir, you clearly won that round.

Biman 7773Biman Bangladesh to expand Western international destinations: Biman, which has mostly been in the news lately for the retirement of the world’s last DC-10, is planning to begin flying from its base in Dhaka to Frankfurt via Rome and New York City via Birmingham, UK with its new Boeing 777s. The carrier, much like the nation, has been facing trouble, however. According to the Daily Star, airline brass has been facing charges of corruption, which airline officials have vehemently denied.

Then the wheels came off: Things got off to a rough start for Etihad Regional (aka Darwin Airlines) when the wheels started coming off on day one – literally. The inaugural flight, operated by a Saab 2000, landed in Paris Charles de Gaulle, though on touchdown the nose-gear wheels chose to separate from the airplane. The decision left the rest of the airplane to use its nose to come to a stop. All on board escaped without injury, though the airplane was heavily damaged according to a report by The Aviation Herald.

If your love-story soars to the top, you could be flying first-class on United.

If your love-story soars to the top, you could be flying first-class on United.

Love is in the air: If you’ve got a good love story that involves airplanes/flying, United has the contest for you: Send a 500 word or less story about how you met your better half to the airline, along with a photo of the both of you, and you could win two roundtrip BusinessFirst tickets to any United destination. Having spent two years dating my wife long-distance, I spent a lot of time traveling in the skies between Illinois and Massachusetts. But, truth be told, I usually took Southwest to Midway instead of United to Chicago. You know, back in the days with SWA was cheaper anyways ;-)

Head-on collision: In less pleasant news, a photographer was hit by a DHC6 Twin Otter, operating for Winair, on the island of Saint Barthelemy in the Caribbean. The airport is known for its extreme approach, and photographers have often gone to dangerous lengths to get the shot. I can’t read French well enough to know the condition of the man, but this is not the first such incident at the airport. Another photographer was killed several years back after being hit in the head by a departing airplane. Frankly, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often.

Photo by Shimin Gu / Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Shimin Gu / Wikimedia Commons

Pushed back, but not for flight: Aviation Week reports that Comac’s ARJ21 jet will not enter service until 2015. The jet, which is comparable in size to the American made DC-9, is the company’s first. Despite intentions for the airplane to make its first flight in 2006, it didn’t wind up taking to the skies until late 2008. A lengthy two year initial flight test program wound up uncovering a big problem in late 2010 when the wing failed a crucial stress test. Additional problems began cropping up not long after which have set back the delivery date of the airplane into 2014; specifically cracking in the wings and wiring in the avionics.

Cloaked: The first US Airways airplane was converted to an AA livery this week. The Airbus A319, registration N700UW, took 13 days to receive its new paintjob. The airplane retains a handful of reminders of its heritage, however. A small US Airways logo flag remains on the nose gear door, and ‘operated by US Airways’ was painted on the bottom-right hand side of the forward port door. AA said it anticipates 275 aircraft, both mainline and regional, will be painted in the new livery by the middle of the year.
AAUS3191 AAUS3192

Photo courtesy Airbus

Photo courtesy Airbus

Baby it’s cold outside: The Airbus A350 XWB, which recently traveled to Iqaluit, Canada for cold weather testing, probably wound up getting more than it bargained for. Temperatures on site reportedly fell to around -18F degrees – frosty! The airplane completed several day’s worth of tests including low speed taxi testing, thrust reversing with snow, and a few local flights.

The airplane, MSN3, previously had been touring in Bolivia for its hot and high testing. I wonder what the difference in volunteer rate among employees was…

Just don’t: Finally, for those travelling to/from the Super Bowl, the TSA provided this gentle reminder of unacceptable items, which included such items as air horns, concealment flasks, propane tanks (seriously?), and gas heaters/stoves. Curiously though, they  appeared to imply that the latter item would only be rejected if the gas could be smelled…

Oh, and this: TSA Agent Confession – a must read indeed.

And, now for real finally, Delta’s new 1980s themed safety video, in all its glory:

Must read:
Flightglobal’s Ned Russell presents an excellent profile on Delta’s CEO, Richard Anderson

Via Dallas Morning News: American Airlines museum to display flight attendant wings, APFA pin from Flight 77

Via Aviation Week: Reengining Airbus A330 Could Take 2-3 Years

And in case you missed it, we had a lot of exciting coverage right here on Airchive this week. Here’s what we have for you:

Weekend Rewind: A Look Back Into The Archive of Airchive’s Vault Of Aviation History – January 25th Edition

Alaska To Host a Super Bowl Tailgate Party at 35,000 Feet

India Finally Removes Restrictions on the Airbus A380

San Francisco International Airport and United Airlines to Open Renovated T3

Southwest Airlines to Begin International Service to Caribbean

EVA Air to Increase North American Flight Frequencies

Planes Vs Trains: The Race from NYC to DC, Part Three

United May Avoid Flight Attendant Furloughs

American Airlines Group Posts Positive 2013 Profits, Looks to Even Brighter Future

Hawaiian Airlines Posts 2013 Profit

Toronto Pearson International Airport, Then and Now: Part Two

Malaysia Airlines Ending Flights to Los Angeles

Analysis: JetBlue Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Profit

InFlight Review: JetBlue Even More Space

PHOTOS: Boeing Paints 747-8 Freighter in Seahawks Colors for Super Bowl

JetBlue Picks Up 12 Slots at Reagan National Airport

Southwest Cleans Up DCA Slot Auction, Wins 54

Allegiant Air Posts Positive Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Results

Small Cities Set to Lose after JetBlue/Southwest Reagan National Slot Sweeps

Contact the author at jeremy.lindgren@airchive.com

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JetBlue Picks Up 12 Slots at Reagan National Airport

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published January 30, 2014

jetBlue A320 JDL ArchivesJetBlue won twelve slot pairs at Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport (DCA) on Thursday.

The carrier bid for the slots after the new American Airlines was required to divest 104 slots by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of a settlement agreement to merge with US Airways in December 2013. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has overseen the subsequent bidding process, informing the New York City based carrier that its application was “provisionally accepted.”

The carrier also announced that itself and American agreed to a permanent transfer of its existing eight slot pairs that the carrier had been leasing from American since 2010. Not that there was much choice in the matter: The DOJ settlement required the new AA to offer any presently leased slots to the lessor.

DCA, one of the few airports in the country that has strict restrictions on the number of flights able to operate in and out daily, is highly coveted given its proximity to downtown DC. JetBlue began serving the airport in 2010, and presently offers 18 daily roundtrips. With its latest acquisition the carrier will be able to add twenty-four new flights, or twelve daily roundtrips. As to which destinations will receive service, JetBlue has only said that it will be “cities it does not currently serve” from the airport.

As for the remaining slots, the DOT has not yet announced any further winners.

EXTRA: Photos of Washington DC Reagan National

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Toronto Pearson International Airport, Then and Now: Part Two

By Howard Slutsken / Published January 29, 2014

In Part One of this report, we followed the remarkable growth of Toronto-Pearson International Airport (YYZ) from its humble beginnings in 1938, to the air travel “boom” years of the 1980s and early ‘90s. Daily flights serving YYZ went from a dozen-or-so folks in a single Trans-Canada Airlines Lockheed 14 Super Electra, to thousands of passengers arriving and departing on hundreds of flights. The airport’s three terminals had been expanded and upgraded, but they wouldn’t be able to handle the passenger loads forecast for the future.

August 2002 – YYZ’s New Terminal 1 is under construction, with the completed Infield Complex in the background. Photo: Air Canada

August 2002 – YYZ’s New Terminal 1 is under construction, with the completed Infield Complex in the background.
Photo: Air Canada

In 1995, to meet YYZ’s needs through to 2030, the GTAA proposed replacing YYZ’s Terminal 1-Aeroquay and Terminal 2, home of Air Canada, with a new Terminal 1. The logistical and operational challenges were formidable. All existing airline and airport operations had to be maintained while demolition of existing obsolete infrastructure occurred and new construction began. Not only was a new terminal planned, but two new runways, a massive infield operational and cargo area, a specialized de-icing bay, and related taxiways and roadways were to be built and integrated into the airport’s operation.

The pace of construction and operational change at YYZ from the mid-1990s until 2007 was remarkable. In 1997, a new parallel cross-wind Runway 15R/33L became operational, along with the first phase of what would become the world’s largest aircraft de-icing facility. The de-icing bay is located away from the terminal apron areas and close to the departure runways. The placement of the facility reduces congestion on the ramp as well as aircraft taxi time and exposure to additional snow and ice buildup after de-icing. “Iceman” has six drive-thru style bays and state-of-the-art equipment for capturing and handling the de-icing and anti-icing fluids and compounds. The new cross-wind runway was an operational necessity, even though the north-south runways are only needed about 5% of the time.  When the winds are howling out of the north-west, it’s important for YYZ to be able to operate simultaneous twin-runway departures and arrivals.

These improvements weren’t readily apparent to passengers, despite increasing the odds their flight would leave on time. But in 1998, visitors saw construction begin of the new Terminal 1. The footprint of the new terminal overlapped the current T1-Aeroquay, one of Air Canada’s cargo buildings, and a food preparation facility, Consequently a new infield cargo, hanger, operations complex and eleven-gate Infield Terminal were built to allow the phased demolition and construction of the project to occur. The infield complex was linked to the terminal buildings by a new tunnel under Runway 15L/33R. The first phase of T1 New opened in April, 2004, with fourteen gates on Piers D and E, along with nine commuter positions.

Air Canada moved its domestic operations from Terminal 2 to T1 New, and T2’s international flights were moved to the Infield Terminal. International passengers checked in at T1 New, and were bussed to the Infield Terminal to board their flights. US-bound flights still operated from T2.

With three terminals now in operation, Air Canada started using quick and efficient “nose-wheel lift” tugs to move planes between gates. Its remarkable how quickly a tug can pick up and move a plane to a new gate – as an ex-ramp rat, I’ve watched and marvelled at the single-person operation.

August 2004 – Demolition of the Aeroquay. Photo: Air Canada

July 2004 – Demolition of the Aeroquay.
Photo: Air Canada

Demolition of the Aeroquay began in 2004, and those of us who remember it can still see its footprint on the apron of the new Terminal 1, between Pier E and F.  Where possible, material from the demolition was recycled into the new apron area. When demolition was complete, an additional ten gates were opened at T1 New in October 2005.  Two years later, the second phase of the new terminal became operational with the opening of Pier F, with 25 gates for international and US-bound flights. Two of the gates are configured for A380 operations, and Emirates was the first airline to operate the plane to YYZ in June, 2009. The Infield Terminal was closed when T1 Pier F opened, and all international flights moved to the main terminal. The Infield Terminal will stay in place, ready to be used if traffic requires its re-activation.

U.S. flight operations also moved from Terminal 2 to T1 New in 2007, once U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had their new port in operation. For those who haven’t flown from a major Canadian airport to the US, outbound passengers clear U.S. Customs and Immigration before they get on their flight. That way, the flight can land at its destination as if it’s a U.S. domestic flight, making passenger arrivals more efficient. This “Preclearance” program has been in operation in Canada for decades. As with other Canadian airports, T1 was designed with a secure U.S. departure gate area. Demolition of Terminal 2 was completed in November 2008, and like the Aeroquay, the resulting material was recycled to become the new apron area.

2013 – YYZ Terminal 3. Photo: GTAA

2013 – YYZ Terminal 3. Photo: GTAA

Along with all of the other changes at YYZ, Terminal 3 underwent a modernization program during the first decade of the 2000s. The building was updated and enlarged, with new check-in counters, retail space, eight additional gates, and baggage system upgrades.  A new arrivals hall was built, larger security screening areas were added, and the international baggage claim area was expanded.

Many improvements were also happening airside. The list was long, including a new control tower, a new south, parallel Runway 06R/24L, new north and south fire halls, new taxiways, roadway revisions, a new parking structure, employee parking area and reduced-rate parking garage and an Automated People Mover Train, the LINK, which connects T1, T3 and the parking lots. Upgrades were made to the fuel farm and distribution system; a 117 Megawatt natural gas-fired cogeneration plant became operational in 2005 to supply power and steam to the airport; and a 151 room “ALT Hotel” was opened in 2012 on airport lands beside a LINK train station.

Passengers travelling through YYZ Terminal 1 today will find themselves in a bright, modern, massive building, stainless-steel bright with windows everywhere. High-speed moving sidewalks make the run to the gates a little less tiring, especially in the 300-foot long Pier F. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the terminal. Services, retail, and restaurants are as one would expect at an airport of this calibre, and are continually being updated and upgraded. A new designer duty-free area has opened in the international gate area of Pier F, and more than a dozen new restaurants will begin to open in Summer 2014, including one I’m looking forward to, Caplansky’s Deli.

“Flight Song” by Robert Charles Coyle, YYZ Terminal 1  Photo: GTAA

“Flight Song” by Robert Charles Coyle, YYZ Terminal 1 Photo: GTAA

As with many airports worldwide, YYZ is proud of the collection of art that has been commissioned especially for the airport, along with special exhibits that are on display throughout the terminals.  The changing exhibits feature works by cultural institutions, organizations, collectors, and art groups, with a focus on local and regional partners.

In 2015, YYZ will finally get a direct light-rail connection to downtown Toronto, something that’s been proposed, discussed and argued about for decades. The “Union Pearson Express”, or “UP Express” will launch in spring 2015, in time for the Pan/Parapan American Games in Toronto.  The new service will run every 15 minutes from Terminal 1, with a 25 minute trip to Downtown Toronto’s transit hub at Union Station.

While it seems that YYZ is now catching its breath after more than 10 years of frantic activity, planning continues for the next phase of improvements. Terminal 1 can be expanded with up to three more piers, with Pier G up next.  Another parallel east-west runway has been approved, to be built at the north end of the airport, south of the current Runway 05-23 and Taxiway Hotel. A north de-icing facility is also in planning, to be located just south of the new parallel runway.  These projects have all been deferred until traffic increases or demand warrants the new facilities.

In the meantime, in October 2013, the GTAA and Air Canada announced a new commercial agreement to develop YYZ into an even stronger North American gateway and global hub. The agreement gives Air Canada fixed airport fees for the next five years, and the term can be extended for a further five years, if agreed passenger volumes are met. The agreement also commits both Air Canada and the GTAA to continued passenger service improvements, including baggage delivery and aircraft de-icing wait times.

YYZ – Toronto Pearson International Airport.  Photo: GTAA/Googl

YYZ – Toronto Pearson International Airport. Photo: GTAA/Google

It’s been over 75 years since YYZ’s first flight, and all of that land for the original airport, well, it’s filled up. Based on current projections, the airport can handle traffic through to 2030. Beyond that, a second international airport for the region is planned in Pickering, north-east of Toronto. The Pickering Airport was originally proposed in the 1970s, was cancelled, and is now back in the GTAA’s plans. But will this new iteration of the Pickering Airport actually be built? Only time will tell.

So for now, Toronto-Pearson International Airport will continue as Canada’s busiest airport and Air Canada’s most important hub.

About the author:

Howard ready to go gliding  in an LS-4 in Minden, NV

Howard ready to go gliding
in an LS-4 in Minden, NV

Howard Slutsken has been an AvGeek since he was a kid, watching Trans-Canada Airlines Super Connies, Viscounts, Vanguards & DC-8s at Montreal’s Dorval Airport in the early ’60s. He worked at Toronto International Airport in the 1970′s as a “Ramp Rat”, and got his Private Pilot’s licence in 1979. He’s added floatplane and glider ratings along the way. Howard will pretty well drop everything if he gets an opportunity to go flying in just about any kind of aircraft. Howard is based in Vancouver BC, where he operates his Communications and Marketing Support company, Wingborn Ltd. He’s also Senior Contributor for AirlineReporter.com.

@HowardSlutsken |  Flikr | howard.slutsken@gmail.com

 

 

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