Random Bits of Info – What I Missed in the Domestic World

Alaska Airlines, Eos, JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America

Hey everyone. I made it back from Peru yesterday morning, and let’s just say it’s going to be a VERY busy end to the week. I hope you enjoyed the guest posts while I was gone, and hopefully we’ll get both Henry and Benet to return at some point in the near future. I think I’m going to spend the rest of this week catching up on snippets of what happened while I was gone. You’ll see more in depth discussion about my trip which included new airlines, airports, and airplanes, starting on Monday. For now, let’s see what I missed while I was away.

Continental Tells United to F*&# Off – This was a welcome surprise, I must say. Continental decided that it won’t be merging with United or anyone else for that matter. That left United to go lick its wounds and see if US Airways would come out and play. Meanwhile, Continental, not exactly thrilled at the prospect of playing second fiddle to DL/NW in SkyTeam has started looking elsewhere as well, including a possible oneworld membership.

Eos Won’t See Another Dawn – Just before I left, Eos quietly disappeared from the skies. This one is a little bittersweet for me, because I actually worked with the founder back in 2003 as he was just getting this idea off the ground. I always believed in the idea, but it was going to be tough to succeed even with fuel prices at lower levels. With fuel where it is, the only funding available appears to have been from foreign sources and that wouldn’t have worked with existing foreign ownership rules.

Virgin America Pumps Up the Frequency – You know I’ve been strongly against Virgin America’s strategy of entering highly competitive markets with low frequencies. Well it looks like the airline has finally realized that’s a bad idea. Business travelers will see a more frequent flight schedule on transcontinental routes as well as Seattle to SFO. JetBlue Hates LAXWhile I still think these are bound to lose a ton of money with fuel where it is, it’s still the right strategy (except for that SFO-SEA route), if there is such a thing for them at this point.

JetBlue Goes Ex-LAX – While Virgin America builds up, JetBlue walks away. The airline now says it will “delay” its new LAX service. The airline says fuel is too expensive, but you know that also means revenue isn’t where they wanted it to be. It must have been really bad to cancel this service within a few weeks of it starting. This is of course good for Virgin America, but it also shows how hard this market is. Congrats to JetBlue for not being afraid to walk away.

Alaska Throws Down with Virgin America – Alaska, meanwhile, is not going to throw Virgin America a bone at all. Right after Virgin said it would beef up flights between SFO and Seattle, Alaska said it would do the same. Oh, and how about some double miles on the route? This looks like a losing battle for Virgin America, but Alaska’s going to bleed in the process.

Southwest Turns the Knife Further – Fresh off the latest round of Denver increases, Southwest is at it again. On August 4, the airline will start nonstops to Ft Lauderdale, New Orleans, and Sacramento. You’ll also find another daily nonstop to Phoenix. The good news for Frontier? Um, well, they don’t fly to New Orleans, so, uh, that’s good, right? Also, in unrelated Southwest news. If you haven’t seen Southwest’s new blog setup, check it out. The airline continues to be leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else.

That’s all for today. You can expect an international edition of what I missed tomorrow. Then I’ll have more on Peru next week.

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9 comments on “Random Bits of Info – What I Missed in the Domestic World

  1. I’ve listened to the arguments that Southwest had little effect on Frontier’s bankruptcy, but I just don’t buy it. Frontier may be outperforming WN out of DEN, but any increased presence on these non-stop routes will dilute Frontier’s yields. They may still be doing better than Southwest on these specific routes, but their piece of the pie is much smaller. Southwest is going for the jugular, and even though they may not make money in the process, neither will Frontier.

  2. I’m wondering why Virgin America ever decided to fly to Seattle at all. Seasonal market, strong presence of UA and AS, not to mention low yield connecting traffic.

    My guess is that VX cans SEA after the summer season, unless they intend to bleed.


    I don’t know how many of you pay attention to this, but our “fair weather” service from Air Tran has been renewed from MKE to many of Midwest Airlines’ major route cities, including nonstop service from MKE to: BWI, DCA, TPA, MCO, RSW, PHX, LAX, SEA, SFO, SAN, and BOS. Its one to two flights per day, but it looks like they either want to run YX out, or really establish a market. We used to have some nonstop service from Air Tran a while back, but it went away. It will be interesting to see if they stay or are just being bullies.

  4. If you look into the future a bit, you’ll see that the AirTran service in MKE shrinks dramatically after labor day. MKE-LAX, MKE-BWI and more disappear from the system. From the 21 departures a day they’ll have when ramped up in May, they’re down to 10 in the fall. Plus, all indications are their loads are extremely light on the new flights.

  5. “I’m wondering why Virgin America ever decided to fly to Seattle at all. Seasonal market, strong presence of UA and AS, not to mention low yield connecting traffic.

    My guess is that VX cans SEA after the summer season, unless they intend to bleed.”

    OK, strictly anecdotal here (read: not firm data supported by US DOT reports, etc.), but I’ve flown VX 4 times since Seattle service was started up (LAS-SFO-SEA and LAX-SEA). The Alaska MVP and MVPGs I’ve run into on these flights and asked have been UNIFORMLY impressed by VX and have all said VX is getting their business. I’m also not seeing empty flights (my flight times are generally Friday evenings and Sunday daytime, FWIW).

    I also happen to be an AS MVPG… and yep, VX has won my business too (as you can tell). These are the airplanes I expected to be flying 20 years ago, 20 years in the future- as opposed to the rest of the US airline industry, which seems to be in a death spiral that’s making the customer experience less desirable in order to cut expenses to the bone.

    I would also argue that AS probably wins comparisons with UA or any legacy airline for domestic service (UA’s intl service being a different ballgame)…. so if AS customers are impressed with VX, you can imagine what legacy airline customers think. I’ve also asked some people in my acquaintance, and yes, VX is getting mindshare among them, too, for transcon flights.

    Yes, I know, it’s also going to be about price when it gets down to it, look at Eos, etc.. I do think VX has a modern fleet AND can do some things to compete on the LCC side of the equation- and to me, it does seem like they are building some brand loyalty. Time will tell, I guess.

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