Ben Mutzabaugh , USA TODAY
Airlines are constantly tweaking their schedules, trying to find profitable new routes or pulling the plug on ones that have underperformed. Airports and communities also court these new services.
There are dozens of changes to airline routes each month. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting from January.
Southwest finally comes to Cincinnati
Cincinnati and the Cayman Islands are in. The Ohio cites of Dayton and Akron-Canton are out.
That was the shakeout as Southwest rolled out its summer flight schedule and extended its booking schedule through Aug. 14.
Southwest’s Cincinnati and Grand Cayman flights will each start on June 4. From Cincinnati, which had long been the biggest metro area that Southwest did not serve, Southwest will offer non-stop service to its bases at Baltimore/Washington and Chicago Midway. Southwest’s Grand Cayman service will operate from its base in Fort Lauderdale.
Southwest will end all of its service to Dayton and Akron-Canton on June 3. Those destinations joined Southwest’s network after its 2010 merger with AirTran.
Emirates adds second European non-stop from USA
Emirates will add Newark Liberty to its growing U.S. route map, making the New York City-area airport its 12th U.S. destination.
But Emirates’ Newark flights will not operate non-stop to its main hub in Dubai, but rather to the Greek capital of Athens. The flights will continue on to Dubai, operating with a stop in Athens in each direction.
The Newark-Athens route launches March 12 and will become Emirates’ second between the USA and Europe. It also flies from New York JFK to Milan. Those flights are in addition to the four daily round-trip flights Emirates operates between JFK and Dubai.
Emirates’ U.S. rivals Delta and United each already fly non-stop to Athens from New York, but only seasonally during the summer. United serves Athens from its hub at Newark Liberty while Delta flies to Athens from its hub at New York JFK.
Emirates’ non-stop connections between the USA and Europe are allowed under “fifth freedom” aviation rights granted to airlines in countries with which the United States has a liberal “Open Skies” aviation pact. Those rights allow an airline to carry passengers between two foreign cities as long as the flight continues as one-stop service to that carrier’s home-country.
A number of other airlines fly fifth freedom routes from the USA, including Singapore Airlines’ route between Houston and Manchester, England, and Cathay Pacific’s non-stop service between New York and Vancouver.
Japan Airlines to launch NYC-Tokyo Haneda flights
Japan Airlines (JAL) will add non-stop service between New York JFK and Tokyo’s close-to-downtown Haneda Airport. The new route will begin April 1 and will be in addition to JAL’s existing service between JFK and Tokyo Narita. The carrier will fly one daily round-trip flight on the Haneda route on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
Narita is Tokyo’s primary international gateway while Haneda’s route map is more heavily tilted toward regional flights. For many travelers, Haneda is the preferred Tokyo airport because of its proximity to the city.
JAL was able to add the route at slot-controlled Haneda airport by freeing up slots from another route. To make that happen, JAL’s Honolulu-Haneda route will be shifted to Narita, according to the airline.
Washington to Delhi, no stops
Washington’s Dulles International Airport will get a non-stop flight to India.
The Air India service would begin in July, with the state-owned national carrier planning non-stop service from Delhi. The capital-to-capital route is expected to operate three times a week on Boeing 777 aircraft, The Times of India reports.
Washington Dulles will be Air India’s fifth U.S. destination, joining Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK, Newark Liberty and San Francisco. Air India would be the only carrier offering non-stop service to India from Washington.
Turf war? Delta adds 7 more Seattle routes
The “battle for Seattle” shows little sign of slowing down.
Delta Air Lines announced plans for seven new routes from Seattle, all of which will go head-to-head with service offered on Seattle-based Alaska Airlines. The new routes will give Delta’s Seattle customers non-stop access to Austin; Eugene, Ore.; Lihue, Hawaii; Milwaukee; Nashville; Raleigh/Durham; and Redmond, Ore.
Three of Delta’s new routes – Milwaukee, Nashville and Raleigh/Durham – match service that Alaska Airlines has added just since 2015.
With the new service, Delta says its Seattle schedule will increase to 160 peak-day flights to 49 destinations. Delta also will increase capacity on existing Seattle service, adding either more flights or bigger planes on six other Seattle routes.
Delta’s latest Seattle expansion continues an ongoing turf war between it and Alaska Airlines. The carriers were close partners earlier this decade, though they announced in December that they’d formally terminate their codeshare and frequent-flier pacts.
Meanwhile, in Portland …
Alaska Airlines is expanding at its hub in Portland with four new routes from the Oregon airport.
Three of those routes — to Baltimore/Washington, Milwaukee and Philadelphia — will be seasonal, operating during Alaska Airlines’ summer schedule. Flights between Portland and Albuquerque will begin Aug. 18 and operate year-round.
Portland is Alaska Airlines’ second biggest hub. With the new routes, the carrier will fly non-stop to 55 destinations from the city.
Louisville joins Allegiant’s route map
Low-cost carrier Allegiant will begin flying from Louisville this spring. The Louisville flights will launch May 19, when the airline begins twice-weekly non-stop service to Fort Lauderdale. That will be the first of six routes it will add from Louisville in May. The other routes will be to Destin, Fla.; Orlando/Sanford; Punta Gorda, Fla.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga.