3 Links I Love: Frontier’s Ever-Changing Network, Boeing Targets the A330neo, Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum

Airbus, Frontier, Hawaiian, Links I Love

This week’s featured link:
Travelers air frustration over changes by Frontier AirlinesNewsday
Frontier is exceedingly quick at moving in and out of markets if they don’t work well. There is always backlash, and I find myself wondering about the long-term implications of all these changes. If someone lives near Islip, will they be willing to book Frontier knowing that it has pulled out of other markets previously? This article looks at some of the local frustrations travelers have had in that area.

Two for the road:
Boeing displaces Airbus at Hawaiian, wins 787-9 deal; airline cancels A330-800 orderLeeham News
Boeing’s effort to kill the A330neo program seems to be off to a flying start. If this is true, then Hawaiian will abandon the -800 leaving exactly zero orders on the books. There are still some for the -900, but other than lessors, that’s primarily Air Asia X, Delta, Garuda, TAP Air Portugal, and a questionable order from Iran Air. If Boeing can kill the A330neo program, that opens the door even wider for the new 797 middle of the market airplane.

Record-Setting Pilot Inspires Youth at Airport in ComptonNBC 4 Los Angeles
I had the chance to visit Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton a couple weeks ago, and it’s truly a hidden gem. This place is building future leaders in aviation and is worthy of all kinds of support.

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26 comments on “3 Links I Love: Frontier’s Ever-Changing Network, Boeing Targets the A330neo, Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum

  1. Is it common for airlines to cancel routes that have already been opened for booking? I guess I had just assumed that a route got cancelled by refraining from opening up further bookings in the future.

  2. I can’t see Airbus giving up on the A330neo as a whole. Abandoning that segment would leave a big hole in Airbus’s next-gen product line between A321s and A350s and since upgrading the A330ceo presented relatively low incremental costs, it doesn’t need to sell as well or price as high as a clean-sheet design. The A330-800 is arguably similar to the 787-8 in that with the 9-version offering such superior economics, people aren’t that willing to buy the 8, even at a discount.

  3. I have not been to Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum as I live in Texas, however having worked for a major airline for 35 years, I was interested.  Have you seen the bad reviews?  Several saying the Museum is a scam? What do you think?Mary

    1. Mary – Are you talking about the Yelp reviews? I have no idea about that, but I do know that kids in the community are learning and building pretty cool things there. The museum itself isn’t all that exciting to see, but it’s the work with kids that struck me. I’m sure some are disgruntled, as is always the case. But I don’t know any details beyond that.

    2. CF thanks for bringing attention to all the great things Robin Petgrave is doing in the community through Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. I’ve know Robin for over 30 years (through our speedskating club) and have visited the museum twice. I wish I lived closer so I could volunteer there. (Full disclosure- I hired Robin to take us up in a helicopter so I could propose to my then girlfriend almost 20 years ago.)

      Mary, I haven’t seen any reviews, but can tell you that Robin has encouraged countless inner city students to not just stay in school but to excel in life and pursue one’s dreams. He continuously gives back to the community.


  4. One has to assume there is some extra “cheddar” for Hawaiian to take the 787. I wonder if there wasn’t some discussion around the 717 fleet. That fleet would be ripe for a CS100 replacement as their duty cycles must be getting high.

    On a more personal level I am not a 787 fan. I’ve had one flight (Air Canada BRU-YUL) and I came away disappointed in the plane. Is it quiet? Sure, but depending on where you sit so is a 747 or A330. Where the window shades neat? NO! I hated those stupid things! They don’t black out against direct sunlight so it is never dark, just a sick green, in the cabin. Is the humidity/pressure increase nice? Can’t say I felt it. Overall I came away feeling it was just a freshened up 767.

    1. What bugged me most was the constant shoulder rubbing with my neighbors (neither of us was particularly large/wide). I avoid the 787s that are configured with 9 seats across in Economy. Obviously the blame goes mostly to the airlines that choose the configuration, but Boeing might share some blame by choosing a fuselage width that enables this bad behavior.

      1. I’m not sure that you can pin the width decision on Boeing at all. With a narrow fuselage, there is clearly a target number of seats: adding one additional seat would be impossible. But above a certain width, it will always be possible to have at least two plausible numbers of seats abreast.

        Figure that “plausible” coach seats run from 17 to 19 inches across…
        17 x 9 = 153 and
        19 x 8 = 152.
        So any fuselage width greater than 152 inches–plus two aisles–could be configured in at least two plausible configurations, one more generous and one less so.

        Boeing can’t help that; it’s all the airlines’ decision.

        1. It seems to me that Boeing’s recent wide body designs are more ripe for abuse by squeezing in the extra seat. The 777 was designed for 9-across but 10-across is becoming more and more common. The 787 was designed for 8-across but 9-across has become standard across the fleet except for a handful of JAL and ANA examples. Compare this to the A330/A340, which designed for 8-across but it takes a really narrow seat to go to 9-across so it’s only the ultra low cost carriers like AirAsiaX that do it, similar to the 8-across 767 which seems to mostly exist with European leisure charter carriers.

          This seat width issue is what I find most disappointing about this change, since the 9-across 787 will be less comfortable than the 8-across A330neo. On the other hand, I’m not sure it will impact me much since I see the 787 at HA being used mostly for destinations flights beyond the reach of the current A330-200s.

          My own 787 experiences haven’t been too bad. Yes, 9-across, but since my wife was on one side and the window on the other, it wasn’t so bad. Plus the dimmed window meant that I could still see out without having to open the shade to peek outside and suddenly have more bright light in the cabin. Also, my wife usually wears contacts but has to take them out after a few hours of flying because her eyes dry out, but she was able to do LHR-IAH without ever taking them out, so there is something to the higher humidity.

      2. But wasn’t it Boeing that originally said it’s meant for 8 across but the airlines chose 9 across because it’s not against regulation and it fits?
        If they built the plane with a maximum and not suggested 8 across in mind, then it would likely be narrower than it is now and still end up rubbing shoulders with your neighbors.

      3. The reality is, Boeing is just giving the airlines what they want. Airlines want to squeeze in more seats, so Boeing designs an airplane that can accommodate more seats, even if they don’t recommend doing so. Let’s face it, aside from some hardcore avgeeks, consumers don’t choose flights based on Airbus vs. Boeing. Nor did they vote with their wallets and reject 10-across 777s/9-across 787s when they had the chance.

    2. Have only flown on UA 787’s, but they have been universally beautiful to fly in. So maybe this is a case of different carriers choosing slightly different options for their onboard product. I’ve yet to get a headache flying transatlantic on the 787, whereas I ALWAYS do on the 777 (which I still love), the 767 (which is still love) and the (thankfully retired) 747. Going east (from the UK) I’m usually on an A380 and, as a rule, I do find an Airbus seat far more comfortable than anything that Boeing provides. But never having flown in a 330 (only the 340), I don’t really have an opinion on whether the A330neo development is worth it or not.

  5. Frontier’s business model is odd. Logic would tell me it’s a loser. Darting in and out of markets and often flying city pairs only a couple of times a week would seem to guarantee terrible unit revenue. And now that the Legacies have Basic Economy (a way to match Frontier’s come-on fares but also generate the necessary ancillary revenue to offer such fares), I would think they’d be in some financial trouble. But that doesn’t seem to actually be the case (of course, since they’re not public, our information is sketchy). The advent of Basic Economy seems to be shifting the ULCC model to avoid most direct competition with the Legacies (at least that’s Spirit’s strategy), which seems smart. The problem though is that the hubs are where the money is. Eventually, it seems likely that Frontier will be bought by Spirit and consolidation will occur in the ULCC space. Personally, I don’t think this will be a huge growth business for very much longer.

  6. It’s a good time to be an aircraft procurement executive. :-)
    But the lack of orders for the 330-800 is puzzling… are the big carriers agreeable to waiting another seven years or so to *begin* replacing their 767s? Is there some sort of shortcoming to the 330-800, or is the industry changing somehow such that the upper-middle-market size aircraft is less significant now? If Boeing builds it (the 797), will they come?

  7. We have flown Frontier from DCA to Denver and been pleased with the service. However, flying to Colorado Springs from IAD is iffy since you can’t see a timetable. Instead, you put in your dates and they issue a reservation for your dates. Afterwards, you find out that they are not flying on those dates. It would be nice if they issued a timetable with the dates they are actually flying.

    1. If you can live with the limited schedule of the ULCCs, their diminished legroom and small free carry-on baggage allowance, their service is USUALLY alright. The big problem happens during irregular operation. If your ULCC flight is actually cancelled, you may find yourself stranded. The odds of this happening are probably only 2 or 3% — but it has happened to me, and I’ve only taken a couple dozen ULCC flights in the USA. If you absolutely have to get somewhere and get home promptly, I don’t recommend you fly a ULCC.

      1. ULCCs can be an interesting value proposition. I flew SAN-COS-IAD and back last year on F9; I had a reason for wanting a fully refundable ticket and F9’s “the works” package was the most reasonable option by far, cheaper even than a Southwest Wanna Get Away fare. Because I had the works, I could pick a stretch seat for no extra charge. It’s the same Acro slimline seat as the rest of the plane, but with all the options: extra legroom, extra padding, recline, full size tray table. The package also included carry-on and checked bags.

        Cranky has made similar comments about Spirit’s Big Front Seat being one of the best values in the air. In both cases, the base fares are so low you can buy the add ons and get something better than standard economy seating on the other airlines for a similar price.

  8. For some reason, even without Boeing’s meddling, it seems like the A330neo hasn’t really caught on, as people who would have been interested in it seem to have moved on to the 787 and A350 instead. Really odd. While I doubt it will be a huge financial loss considering the development costs weren’t too high (it is just a revised version after all instead of a clean sheet), those sales numbers do look disappointing. Unless A330neos end up replacing most A330ceos in the future, it looks like the A330neo isn’t working out as a 787 killer (despite what some A.net users are saying); if anything, the A350 is probably Airbus’ best bet. As for a 797 competitor, some are speculating that the A321LR could be a better opponent at least for the lower end.

    It’s also interesting to note that, apparently Hawaiian never really wanted the A350-800 anyway: they only ordered it as part of a deal with Airbus when the A350-800 was cancelled/put on hold.

    1. Presumably a typo, but just to make things clear, you’re right that Hawaiian wasn’t really interested in the A330-800; they were pretty much forced into it as Airbus has all-but-cancelled the A350-800. They viewed the A350-900 as too much airplane for them.

  9. Frontier is no different than Allegiant, except they fly into larger airports.

    Anyone who is booking tickets on any airline extremely far in advance should expect some schedule adjustments. I think Cranky wrote about Delta’s constant tinkering a while ago.

    I’ve found Frontier generally offers the best prices 1-3 months out (again like most airlines). Given their flack is saying they give “months notice” before pulling out of a route I wouldn’t hesitate booking a few months out.

  10. The A330-800 sells about as good as the 787-8 now that the 787-9 is in production or the 737-700MAX which is to say not much; there is little reason to buy a shorter, smaller version in any aircraft model when the trip costs will be almost the same and the seat costs for the smaller aircraft will be much higher. History shows that the smallest model of a family don’t sell well. Airbus was supposedly talking to airlines to switch to the larger – 900. Since the 787-9 is closer in size to the 330-900 than the -800, this deal was clearly about Boeing looking for an opportunity to gain the sale. But let’s keep in mind that Hawaiian has a history of moving from one widebody and manufacturer to another.
    And there is little reason to believe that Airbus will cancel the 330NEO since it is a derivative that is now in flight testing and the first production aircraft are on the verge of entering commercial service. They have spent the money on the program; it isn’t going to be cancelled now.

  11. While I’m sure there are people who choose flights solely on aircraft make or model, I am not one of them. That said, ever since my first time in an A300 in the early 70s, I am always more pleased to see an Airbus assigned to a route than a Boeing. I find the Airbus more comfortable, quieter, and better at handling age as the years go by. The only exception has been the 747, which I loved more every time I flew one. And ironically, the most unpleasant planes I have been on have been Hawaiian 767s. At the end of the day, I want a flight that will get me where I want to go, when I want to go, with high rates of reliability and comfort. But for me, the latter is more likely on an Airbus.

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