Ben Mutzabaugh , USA TODAY
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:
Emirates is reducing its schedule to the USA. The Dubai-based airline says demand has dropped in the wake of a new electronics ban for carry-ons and broader attempts by the Trump administration to restrict travelers from several Muslim-majority nations.
Emirates will not drop any of its 12 U.S. destinations, but it will pare the number of flights on five routes. The reductions, which represent about 20% of the carrier’s schedule to the USA, will be phased in from May 1 to July 1 and will affect Emirates’ schedules for flights between its Dubai hub and Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Orlando and Seattle.
“The recent actions taken by the U.S. government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel into the U.S,” Emirates said in a statement April 19.
Spirit is latest U.S. airline to quit Cuba
Spirit Airlines has become the latest U.S. airline to give up on scheduled passenger service to Cuba. Spirit will begin thinning out its Havana-Fort Lauderdale flight schedule in May before halting service altogether May 31.
That makes Spirit the third U.S. carrier to exit the Cuban market this year after similar plans were announced in March by Frontier Airlines and Silver Airways.
American and JetBlue have reduced capacity to Cuba, though they’ve done so by changing frequency or switching to smaller aircraft rather than discontinuing routes.
Spirit’s decision to exit Cuba comes about eight months after regular passenger flights resumed for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Despite Spirit’s move, South Florida travelers will have numerous options for non-stop flights to Havana. American and Delta fly to Havana from Miami, while JetBlue and Southwest fly from Fort Lauderdale.
Denver becomes lucky 13 for Panama’s Copa Airlines
Copa Airlines will make Denver its newest U.S. destination, announcing plans for non-stop service to its Panama City base that it calls the “Hub of the Americas.”
The Panamanian carrier will begin flying the route Dec. 11, offering four weekly flights on 154-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Flight time between Denver and Panama’s capital city is about 5½ hours.
Denver will become Copa’s 13th U.S. destination and continues the airline’s four-year run of expansion. Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Tampa and San Francisco are among the seven cities Copa has added to its U.S. network since 2012.
Alaska Airlines doubles down on Dallas
Alaska Airlines has been on a torrid expansion pace since closing on its acquisition of Virgin America in December. The latest comes at Dallas Love Field, a Virgin America destination that Alaska will integrate into its own network.
Alaska, which already flies from the much larger Dallas/Fort Worth airport, will keep flying from Love Field and will add four routes there as it presses ahead with its merger with Virgin America. The new routes will connect Love Field to Seattle; San Diego; Portland, Ore.; and San Jose, Calif. All four of those are either hubs or focus cities within Alaska Airlines’ network.
The new service will operate in addition to Virgin America’s routes from Love Field to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan National, though the New York and Washington flights will eventually transition to smaller planes operated by Alaska Airlines’ regional affiliate SkyWest. Alaska will end Virgin America’s non-stop service between Love Field and Las Vegas on Aug. 26.
Combined, Alaska and Virgin America will be flying from Love Field to eight non-stop destinations by Feb. 16, when the last of the four new West Coast routes begins. That’s up from the current five operated by Virgin America.
Alaska Airlines has announced several large expansions since December. Among those are a big ramp-up in schedules from San Diego and from the airports in the San Francisco Bay area.
More American Airlines regional flights in Charlotte
American is bolstering its American Eagle regional network in Charlotte with new routes to small and midsize markets that will begin this summer.
The carrier will launch year-round service to Toledo, Ohio, and Shreveport, La., starting Aug. 22. Both cities will get two daily round-trip flights to Charlotte, American’s second-busiest hub. The flights will be on 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets operated by American regional affiliate PSA Airlines.
The Charlotte flights will give American a second route at both Toledo and Shreveport. American already offers service from Toledo to Chicago O’Hare and from Shreveport to Dallas/Fort Worth.
American revealed plans for three once-a-week seasonal routes from Charlotte.
Saturday-only American Eagle flights to Bangor, Maine; Rapid City, S.D.; and Exuma in the Bahamas will start June 3 and continue through Aug 19. Those flights will be on a mix of PSA-operated Bombardier CRJ700 and CRJ900 regional jets.