Airlines constantly tweak their schedules, trying to find profitable new routes or pulling the plug on ones that have underperformed. Airports and communities court these new services.
There are dozens of changes to airline routes each month. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting:
19 hours? A new ‘world’s longest flight’
It’s official: The title for the “world’s longest flight” is returning to the United States.
That will come Oct. 12, when Singapore Airlines restarts nonstop flights between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey.
Singapore Airlines claims its nonstop option will shave four hours or more off existing connecting options between Singapore and the New York City area. Still, those taking its new flight will face a literal long haul. Scheduled flight time is nearly 19 hours; to be precise, the flight is scheduled to take 18 hours, 45 minutes on the Singapore-bound leg and 18 hours, 25 minutes on the return.
The route will displace Qatar Airways’ Doha, Qatar-Auckland, New Zealand, service as the longest in the world as measured by distance. In statute miles, the route will cover 9,537 miles, according to the Great Circle Mapper website. Qatar’s Doha-Auckland route comes in at 9,032.
Singapore’s restart of Newark-Singapore service comes five years after it discontinued the route, ending the service as the airline phased out the gas-guzzling four-engine Airbus A340 jets it used for the flights. Now, the airline says a new fuel-efficient “ultra long-range” version of Airbus’ two-engine A350 widebody will allow it to profitably restart the service.
Singapore will become the world’s first airline to fly the “ULR” version of the jet, and the carrier will not put any economy seats on the 161-seat plane. Instead, the A350s Singapore will use for its Newark-Singapore route will feature 67 lie-flat business class seats and 94 recliner seats in an international-style premium economy cabin.
Spirit Airlines is adding 11 new routes from Orlando, Florida, in what the airline is calling one of the single-biggest expansions in its history.
Nine of Spirit’s 11 new Orlando routes are international, with the others to U.S. territories in the Caribbean. The expansion will push Spirit’s Orlando schedule to 38 nonstop destinations on up to 49 flights a day. That puts Orlando neck and neck with Las Vegas as Spirit’s second-busiest base, CEO Bob Fornaro and President Ted Christie said in an interview with USA TODAY. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, remains the busiest airport in Spirit’s network.
The 11 newest flights launch in October and November, giving Spirit’s customers new connections between Orlando and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; Guatemala City; Panama City, Panama; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; San Jose, Costa Rica; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; San Salvador, El Salvador; Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic; and the Colombian cities of Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin.
… and in the Carolinas
While Spirit was busy growing in a destination it already served – Orlando – it also was adding new cities to its route map. The budget carrier announced that the North Carolina cities of Greensboro and Asheville would become the 66th and 67th destinations in its network. Spirit will fly three Florida routes from each starting in September.
Also in the Carolinas, Spirit announced it would connect Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Orlando with nonstop service starting Nov. 10.
Southwest Airlines is bulking up in New York and Washington, adding several new routes and bolstering schedules on existing ones.
From New York LaGuardia, Southwest will add daily nonstop service to New Orleans (starting Nov. 4) and Saturday-only nonstop service to the Florida destinations of Orlando and West Palm Beach (Nov. 10). The carrier also will add one additional flight to its existing schedules between LaGuardia and Dallas Love, Denver and Kansas City, Missouri.
From Washington Reagan National, Southwest’s newest destination will be Oklahoma City, with daily round-trip service beginning Nov. 4. The airline also will add one additional flight to its existing schedules that connect the D.C.-area airport to Dallas Love and Nashville, Tennessee.
In California, Southwest is adding new routes from San Jose (to Tucson) and Burbank (to Chicago Midway and Houston Hobby) starting Nov. 4. Other new nonstop options joining Southwest’s schedule include Denver-Lubbock, Texas, and Chicago Midway-Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
In San Francisco, however, Southwest will discontinue nonstop service to Orange County, California, and Portland, Oregon, after Nov. 3.
Frontier is one of the most aggressive U.S. airlines in adding and dropping routes, and the past month was no exception.
The Denver-based budget airline announced three new destinations, saying it would begin flying from Albany, New York; Bloomington/Normal, Illinois; and Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina, starting in September.
Frontier will fly two routes from both Albany and Bloomington/Normal, connecting each city to Denver and Orlando. From Greenville/Spartanburg, Frontier will fly to the same two cities in addition to Las Vegas. All of the routes are expected to be seasonal.
Elsewhere, Frontier announced start dates for 15 more nonstop routes from cities it already serves. The move will expand the ultra-low-cost carrier’s presence in San Diego, Las Vegas, Orlando and Texas.
Five of those nonstop routes come from San Diego, from where Frontier will begin service to Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, in August. Other cities getting multiple new routes include Las Vegas, Austin and San Antonio in Texas, and Orlando. Frontier also will add service between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Charleston, South Carolina.
All of those routes will launch as seasonal service, though the carrier has not specified a hard end date.
Conversely, Frontier is suspending eight routes – including three from San Diego and two each from Cincinnati, Cleveland and Philadelphia. Frontier will continue to fly other routes from those cities.
Delta targets Minneapolis/St. Paul for two Asia routes
Delta Air Lines is planning new routes to Asia from its hub at Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The carrier said it would begin nonstop flights on the route sometime next year. Delta did not reveal a specific start date, but said its plans for a Minnesota-South Korea route follow the recent final approval for a joint-venture partnership with Korean Air.