Air Travel: Delta, WestJet Partner; New Security Tech

A new CT scanner being tested by American Airlines at New York - JFK could allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their bags. (Photo by American Airlines)

A big new partnership for Delta and a new screening technology test in New York City lead this week’s news in air travel.

This week Delta reported it had signed an agreement with WestJet to create a transborder joint venture aimed at offering customers an extensive route network within the United States and Canada. The agreement deepens the existing codeshare relationship between the two carriers, and follows a December 2017 member of understanding. The join venture will reach more than 30 cities, covering 95 percent of U.S.-Canada demand, Delta said. The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals.

In airport news, this week American Airlines reported that it is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on a test of new screening technology in New York. The test will see a new computed tomography (CT) scanner installed at the Terminal 8 security checkpoint at JFK Airport. Unlike current technology, CT scanners provide security personnel with a 3D view of a bag’s contents, improving detection capability. Notably for passengers, the technology could in the future offer the opportunity to leave liquids, gels, aerosols and laptops in their carry-on bags.

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In flight news, this week Cathay Pacific announced plans to launch a four-times-weekly nonstop service between Seattle and Hong Kong on April 1, 2019, making it the only airline to provide a direct connection between the two cities. The airline will operate the route on Airbus A350-900 aircraft, and it will mark the carrier’s eight passenger gateway in the United States.

In South America, this week Avianca Airlines reported plans to launch a daily Orlando – Lima, Peru, route starting August 1. The route will be operated on an Airbus A319 aircraft.

This week also saw the official kickoff of Norwegian’s new service to Madrid from the United States, first from Los Angeles and later in the week from JFK. Both services are nonstop and year round, and run four times weekly.

In Mexico, this week Interjet Airlines signed an interline agreement with Lufthansa, allowing customers to purchase a single ticket for flights on either carrier. The agreement also allows for check-through of luggage and easier connections.

In product news, this week United Airlines announced a plan to purchase 25 new Embraer E-175 and four new Boeing 787-9 aircraft as part of a fleet update. The airline intends to take delivery of the Embraers in 2019 and use them to replace 25 CRJ-700 aircraft currently being flown by United Express partners. The new 787-9 aircraft, due for delivery in 2020, are part of United’s widebody fleet replacement strategy. Representing the longest-range version of the aircraft, the 787-9s will use 20 percent less fuel than older-generation aircraft and offer United Polaris business class.

Also this week Malaysian Airlines announced the implementation of the SkyBreathe fuel efficiency system, in collaboration with OpenAirlines. The new system automatically collects and analyzes data from the carrier’s aircraft, allowing the airline to understand its fuel efficiency and work to improve.

Finally, this week Alaska Airlines rolled out a new, seasonal Main Cabin food and beverage menu. Inspired by the West Coast, the menu includes a number of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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