More fallout from the 737 Max grounding and trouble brewing at British Airways lead this week’s air travel news.
Southwest Airlines released its second quarter earnings report this week with an important update on the 737 Max grounding: because the move has meant that the airline hasn’t been able to grow capacity as it had originally planned, it is leaving Newark Airport. Instead, the airline will consolidate its New York City-area operations at LaGuardia, as of November 3. Work to fix the troubled aircraft is still ongoing, and it’s possible it could be unable to return to service until next year.
At British Airways, a union representing its pilots has voted to strike. No date has been set yet; the airline lost a court bid to block the labor action on Tuesday, after which the union said it would give the airline “one last chance” to negotiate.
British Airways also announced a seven-day suspension on flights to Cairo early this week, although the airline later clarified that the move was not due to security concerns at the city’s airport. Lufthansa had also suspended flights for one day after the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released updated travel advice for Egypt warning of “a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation.”
In the Pacific, American Airlines and Qantas received final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation on their new joint business. American said that the joint venture will allow the two airlines to launch new routes and coordinate on better schedules, as well as provide additional frequent flier benefits.
United Airlines also released a number of updates this week. The airline reported that it is expanding its business class service between the New York area and London, with every flight between Newark and London Heathrow to be operated on newly reconfigured Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. These aircraft have an extended cabin with 46 United Polaris business class seats and 22 United Premium Plus seats. The move represents 16 additional Polaris seats versus previous aircraft.
United also announced changes to its United PassPlus prepaid program that offers discounts, fixed fares and amenities to both individual and corporate customers. United will migrate PassPlus later this year to United Jetstream, the airline’s sales portal, which it says will help business customers manage the product and their travels more easily.