Lots of big changes for San Francisco in the upcoming months. Alaska Airlines is ending several mid-continental and transcontinental routes from SFO, including Skywest service to Minneapolis/St. Paul on May 19, and Fort Lauderdale, currently operated by Virgin America, on June 17. Alaska is also dropping Los Angeles – Orlando on July 5 and San Diego – Mexico City on May 19.
However, the good news for San Francisco is that this month Interjet will be launching 3-weekly service to Cancun and Guadalajara effective March 25, and Air India plans to increase existing frequencies to Delhi from 6 to 9 weekly flights the same day, utilizing the Boeing 777-LR. And that’s not all: Finnair will extend service from Helsinki to San Francisco through December 5, 2018, instead of its previous plan to discontinue seasonal service on September 27. The two weekly flights will continue to be operated on an Airbus A330-300. Finnair also plans to extend its Chicago O’Hare flight operation through December 3.
Helsinki remains one of the largest markets in Europe that Emirates does not serve, and the Dubai-based carrier doesn’t seem to have any appetite for launching it in the near term. Instead, Emirates is continuing to add capacity in new regions such as Bali – Auckland, where it will launch new service connecting the popular Indonesian island with the Kiwis. The aircraft used, a 777-300ER, will feature a 3-class product, and commence beginning June 14, 2018. This means that Emirates will offer 4 daily flights from Auckland, including 3 fifth-freedom routes to Melbourne, Brisbane, and Denpasar, in addition to its existing nonstop flight to Dubai, which is one of the longest flights in the world.
Emirates also plans to go, “Texas-sized” once again by sending its Airbus A380-800 to Houston Bush Intercontinental starting June 1, 2018. The carrier last operated an Airbus A380 to Houston in July 2016 before switching it to a 777-300ER. It’s route to Dallas/Ft. Worth, which was similarly converted from an Airbus A380 station to a 777-300ER station in 2016, will not see any changes at this time.
Dallas/Ft. Worth will be experiencing an influx of capacity to Europe this summer, most notably to Reykjavik with American Airlines, WOW Air, and Icelandair all launching nonstop service starting in May. WOW Air, however, will cut service to Miami, which is served thrice weekly on an Airbus A330-300.
It is because of carriers like Emirates and WOW Air that have driven European network airlines to create long-haul, low-cost subsidiary brands such as Air France’s JOON, which officially will take over its existing route from Paris CDG to Mumbai on June 18. The airline will offer daily service on an Airbus A340-300, which are being used to operate JOON routes to short-and-long haul markets that experience high-volume competition. JOON is Air France’s new, “digital laboratory” product that is marketed less like an airline brand and more like a “lifestyle,” targeted towards millennials. Few people, outside of Air France‘s leadership teams, seem to really grasp what the long-term value proposition is of JOON.
Speaking of value proposition, Alitalia is still struggling to figure out its place in the world as it chugs along, seeking out potential buyers and loosening its ties with Etihad Airways. It will end service from Rome to Abu Dhabi on March 25, although Etihad apparently appears to be picking up the slack by adding a second daily flight from April 30. Also, Alitalia is looking forward to the debut of the 777-300ER on its Rome to New York JFK route starting March 25, which will operate 6 times weekly.