A big codeshare agreement and a number of new flights lead this week’s air travel news. Here’s what you need to know.
Qantas and Air France renewed their codeshare agreement this week in a move aimed at expanding travel options between Europe and Australia via Asia. Starting June 5, bookings will be available for travel starting July 20 in which Air France will add its code to Qantas flights between Hong Kong and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and between Singapore and Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Air France customers will also be able to access codeshare services from Sydney to five cities on the Australian airline’s domestic network: Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Cairns and Darwin. Qantas will add its code to flights operated by Air France between Singapore and Hong Kong and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, as a continuation of flights from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. All told, the agreement will see the two airlines codeshare on a total of more than 200 flights per week. Additionally, Air France eligible customers will be able to access Qantas lounges in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, as well as Qantas eligible customers to Air France lounges in Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.
In new flight news, this week United Airlines announced plans to expand service to Key West International Airport from Newark Liberty International Airport and Chicago O’Hare. The Newark service will kick off October 4, when United will shift its existing seasonal service to year-round, daily nonstop service on United Express Embraer E170 regional jets. During the peak February through May travel season, United will also add a second daily flight. From mid-December through May 2019, the airline will also increase its Key West-Chicago service to daily. From June 2 through mid-December, United is to operate nonstop weekend service on Saturdays and Sundays between Key West and Chicago, and is set to provide nonstop Saturday and Sunday summer service between Key West and Newark.
This Memorial Day weekend, Delta will kick off its biggest transatlantic summer schedule ever, which will include 11 routes connecting the United States and nine countries in Europe. New this year is a 200 percent capacity increase to Portugal, including new service between Atlanta and Lisbon, as well as the airline’s first service to the Azores, which will fly five times per week from New York - JFK. That will make Delta the only airline to offer this route to the Azores, the airline said. This summer will also see Delta add daily, year-round flights between Indianapolis and Paris, as well as the return of nonstop Paris service from Pittsburgh. Delta is also adding an additional frequency to Paris from Detroit. Finally, Delta is adding additional frequencies to Amsterdam, Athens and Rome, as well as restarting services to Dublin from Atlanta and Boston. Next month, the airline will launch nonstop service from Los Angeles to both Paris and Amsterdam.
Delta also announced new nonstop service to Mumbai, India, this week. While full schedule details have yet to be announced, the airline said it plans to kick off the new service in 2019, pending government approval. Delta said the new service was made possible by agreements between the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to address the issue of government subsidies provided to state-owned carriers in those nations.
In technology news, this week Sabre announced it has partnered with LATAM, the largest airline group in South America, to unify two separate reservations systems into one across their combined carriers. LATAM and Sabre migrated LATAM Brazil from their legacy reservation system onto LATAM's SabreSonic passenger services system (PSS).
In onboard product news, this week Cyprus-based Cobalt Air rolled out in-flight entertainment across its Airbus A319 and A320 fleet via the portable wireless Bluebox Wow platform. The new platform streams media content to passengers’ personal devices, including phones, laptops and tablets. Passengers will be able to access movies and TV shows through their web browser using the new system. Later, plans call for the addition of music, games and magazines.
Finally, in sustainability news, this week Alaska Airlines announced that it will replace single-use, non-recyclable plastic stir straws and citrus picks with sustainable alternatives in its airport lounges and on all domestic and international flights. The new initiative, which kicks off July 16, will make Alaska the first U.S. airline to ban single-use plastic beverage straws, the airline said. Seattle-based Lonely Whale is supporting the initiative.