Air Travel: 737 Max Woes, JetBlue’s Houston Move

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JetBlue announced plans to relocate its Houston operations this week. // Photo by Pixabay/12019

The 737 Max was in the news again this week, as the Federal Aviation Administration announced that the discovery of a new glitch had pushed back the reintroduction of the aircraft after it was involved in two deadly crashes. Reports indicate that the new glitch could push back the timeline by one to three months, and that, after the aircraft is recertified, it will take at least one month for pilots to be trained on any changes. The discovery came the same week as international regulators met in Montreal to coordinate on the aircraft’s return, and a leaked FAA memo sparked controversy in the United States by saying that the aircraft’s return to service would not depend on the outcome of a pair of investigations in the process by which it was cleared to fly in the first place

In operational news, JetBlue announced plans to relocate its Houston operations from William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) to George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) later this year. The airline’s last day of flying out of Houston Hobby will be October 27, 2019, after which it will operate from Bush Intercontinental’s Terminal A

JetBlue also announced a pair of new flights this week. One new route from New York – JFK to San Jose, Costa Rica, will kick off November 1, 2019, operating three times weekly on Fridays, Sundays and Tuesdays. The new flight will complement existing service to the city from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando

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In the Caribbean, JetBlue will launch another nonstop flight out of JFK to Guadeloupe. That three times weekly service is expected to launch in February 2020. 

American Airlines announced three new routes from JFK to the Caribbean and Latin America of its own, starting in November. On November 21, the airline will begin daily service to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and San Jose, Costa Rica, and on December 21 it will launch Saturday-only service to Liberia, Costa Rica. 

American also said that it will extend its recently launched summer service from New York – LaGuardia to Aruba to year-round service starting in December, and that on December 18 it will add a second daily flight from Dallas – Fort Worth to San Juan, Puerto Rico. That date will also see the airline extend its seasonal service between Dallas – Fort Worth and San Salvador, El Salvador, to year-round service. 

American also announced plans to retire its last 26 McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. The MD-80, also known as the Super 80, was the workhorse of the airline’s fleet throughout the 1980s and beyond, the airline said. Subject to operational needs, the aircraft’s final flight will take place September 4 from Dallas – Fort Worth to Chicago O’Hare

In another new Caribbean flight, St. Kitts tourism officials announced that Air Canada is set to add a second weekly nonstop flight from Toronto Pearson to the island, operating on Tuesdays during peak season for the first time in the destination’s history. The new flight will complement the carrier’s existing nonstop Saturday service. 

In other news out of Canada, Delta and WestJet report that they have received clearance for their U.S. – Canada joint venture under Canada's Competition Act from the Canadian Competition Bureau (CCB). The proposed joint venture between the two airlines is still subject to regulatory approval from the Department of Transportation in the United States. If approved, the two airlines say the new joint venture will enable them to deepen their existing partnership with expanded codesharing, reciprocal elite frequent flyer benefits, optimized growth across the U.S.-Canada transborder networks, and co-location at key hubs.

Finally, in domestic travel news, Frontier Airlines announced nine new nonstop routes. Seven of the new flights are out of Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, running to Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, Phoenix, Reno – Tahoe, Seattle – Tacoma and John Wayne Airport in Orange County. The flights to Reno and Seattle will operate Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, while the other flights will operate daily. The last two flights will operate out of Cleveland, running to Fort Lauderdale on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and to Miami on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 

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