United Unraveled: Inside The Premium Heavy London Boston Expansion

As part of United Airlines’ announcement of offering five new flights from London Heathrow to the United States,…

United Unraveled: Inside The Premium Heavy London Boston Expansion

As part of United Airlines’ announcement of offering five new flights from London Heathrow to the United States, the carrier is introducing a new service to Boston from the UK’s busiest airport in March 2022. Following this news, Simple Flying caught up with Bob Schumacher – Director Sales, United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel, South Africa and Off-line markets, United Airlines, about his company’s plans.

Along with Boeing 767-300ER flights to Boston, United is ramping services to Denver, Newark, and San Francisco. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Industry changes

A key update among United’s competitors led to the airline launching its route to Boston from London. American Airlines and British Airways have held a joint venture that traces its way back to 2010. However, last year, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) found that there was not enough competition on certain routes between the US and Europe. As a result, the group proposed that the two airlines would have to give up their slots if a rival wanted to begin flight to specific destinations.

Notably, Boston was one of these sites. United had been looking into flying to the Northeastern city from the capital of the UK for several years. Yet, it took the CMA review for this factor to be taken to the next stage.

United’s flights to Boston will consist of 46 United Polaris business class seats and 22 United Premium Plus premium economy seats. Photo: United Airlines

Making the most out of opportunities

Ultimately, a remedy slot became officially available. As Schumacher puts it, his company applied for this because it believes it is “the US’ largest international carrier.”

“We have the brand presence and representation in the market, which is so mature on both sides of the pond,. So, we can sustain a route that needs good competition and we will certainly be providing that. We will be operating in our high-J configuration 767 business class seats in the front, and we all make a very strong competitive system in that marketplace.” Schumacher told Simple Flying.

“We have a huge portfolio of US corporate accounts. Some of them have sub-offices, some have head offices, and some have regional offices in that marketplace. We know the East Coast very well. We’ve served East Coast very well. But, it’s been historically or will be until the end of March over New York and over Washington. This is our chance to connect further up, if you will, and to offer a wider variety of transatlantic connections.”

United Polaris 767
The “high-J” term is related to the most common fare code for business class – J. Photo: United Airlines

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The demand is there

United first pushed out its premium-heavy 767-300ERs to New York from London in September 2019. The carrier was looking to usher in a new era with this configuration, catering to new business segments emerging across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, the global health crisis rocked operations between the UK and the US for over a year and a half and halted the progress.

Nonetheless, United has been busy adding premium seating to its aircraft despite the challenging conditions. Now, with US travel restrictions relaxing from November 8th, the airline shouldn’t struggle to fill these seats in this next chapter amid plenty of pent-up demand.

What are your thoughts about United Airlines’ expansion to Boston from London? What do you make of the plans for this route? Let us know what you think of the carrier’s operations and the prospects in the comment section.

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aha! Routes The Reno Startup May Take On Next

With two routes from Reno already started, aha! has seven more to launch from Nevada’s ‘biggest little city’.…

aha! Routes The Reno Startup May Take On Next

With two routes from Reno already started, aha! has seven more to launch from Nevada’s ‘biggest little city’. These include Spokane, a new route that is bookable but hasn’t yet been promoted. We examine the carrier’s aircraft schedule and see gaps – expect more route announcements soon.

At the launch, Subodh Karnik, President and CEO of ExpressJet, said that aha! will be going eastwards in the future. Given the likely range of routes from Reno, he probably meant from another base. Photo: via aha!

What’s happening?

New entrant aha! took to the sky on October 23rd on its first revenue-generating service. The route: Reno to Pasco Tri-Cities (PSC on the following map). It was joined two days later by a new service to Bakersfield (BFL), a drive of perhaps six and a half hours or more. The inauguration of aha! meant it became ExpressJet’s second shot at independent operations.

The 468-mile (753km) route to Pasco operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. In 2019, it had around 6,000 round-trip passengers, booking data indicates. As with all brand-new routes, aha! will need to grow demand meaningfully; it’ll do this through lower average fares, non-stop service, and hopefully strong promotions.

If Pasco is to operate all year, it’ll have 300 annual flights and 15,600 annual seats. It’d need to grow the market by around 200%+, very straightforward for low-cost carriers – but aha! is using 50-seat regional jets renowned for high seat-mile costs, even more so when the fuel price is so high. Offsetting it might be cheap as cheap ownership costs. The deciding factor will be how intensively its aircraft are utilized.

Eight initial routes from Reno

Pasco and Bakersfield are two of eight initial routes for the new brand, whose snappy name refers to ‘air, hotel, adventure’, signifying its intention to grow ancillary products and revenue. Also coming soon are:

  1. Eugene (EUG): starting November 1st, three-weekly
  2. Eureka (ACV): November 9th, three-weekly
  3. Fresno (FAT): November 10th, three-weekly
  4. Medford (MFR): October 31st, three-weekly
  5. Ontario (ONT): November 4th, three-weekly
  6. Redmond (RDM): November 5th, three-weekly
aha N844HK
When writing, the last flight operated by N844HK was from Bakersfield back to Reno on October 27th. Image: Radarbox.com.

Reno to Spokane is bookable; where next?

A ninth route has appeared on the carrier’s website and is bookable, although strangely, it hasn’t been promoted at the time of writing. Beginning on December 15th will be Spokane (GEG), also running three-weekly. It had about 5,000 passengers in 2019.

At 572 miles (920km) and a block time of almost two hours, the Washington state airport will be aha! ‘s longest route to date, two-thirds higher than the average of 346 miles (557km).

Where else could be served from Reno? Assuming similar-sized unserved markets to the carrier’s coming services and a rough distance of 600 miles, Bellingham, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Jackson (Wyoming), Palm Springs, and Grand Junction fall into the same overall category. Whether any will launch is an entirely different question!

aha route map from Reno
This is aha! ‘s current network from Reno, including Spokane (GEG), which is new. The circle shows a 600-mile radius of Reno. Image: GCMap.

How will aha’s! aircraft be used?

aha! currently has three 50-seat Embraer 145s (N839HK, N844HK, and N846HK). Analyzing the schedules of the nine routes for the week beginning December 15th shows that aircraft will have relatively leisurely days; a key way for aha! to reduce operating costs, like Allegiant, especially with older, less expensive, but fuel-inefficient aircraft.

Aircraft 1Daily scheduleAircraft 2Daily scheduleAircraft 3Daily schedule
MondayEugene (10:25-11:50; 12:35-14:00); Fresno (14:30-15:33, 16:15-17:18)MondayRedmond (09:50-11:11, 11:55-13:16); Bakersfield (15:00-16:15, 17:00-18:15)MondaySpokane (13:40-15:39; 16:35-18:34)
TuesdayEureka (09:30-10:40, 11:25-12:35); Ontario (13:35-15:03; 16:00-17:28)TuesdayMedford (10:00-11:10, 11:55-13:05); Pasco (14:05-15:40, 16:25-18:00)Tuesday
WednesdayEugene (10:25-11:50; 12:35-14:00); Fresno (14:30-15:33, 16:15-17:18)WednesdayRedmond (09:50-11:11, 11:55-13:16); Bakersfield (15:00-16:15, 17:00-18:15)WednesdaySpokane (13:40-15:39; 16:35-18:34)
ThursdayEureka (09:30-10:40, 11:25-12:35); Ontario (13:35-15:03; 16:00-17:28)ThursdayMedford (10:00-11:10, 11:55-13:05); Pasco (14:05-15:40, 16:25-18:00)Thursday
FridayEugene (10:25-11:50; 12:35-14:00); Fresno (14:30-15:33, 16:15-17:18)FridayRedmond (09:50-11:11, 11:55-13:16); Bakersfield (15:00-16:15, 17:00-18:15)FridaySpokane (13:40-15:39; 16:35-18:34)
SundayEureka (09:30-10:40, 11:25-12:35); Ontario (13:35-15:03; 16:00-17:28)SundayMedford (10:00-11:10, 11:55-13:05); Pasco (14:05-15:40, 16:25-18:00)Sunday

Expect three new routes to be announced

Aircraft will start between 09:30 and 10:25 daily and finish between 17:18 and 18:34. One set of crew should be able to be used per aircraft per day. It seems that aha! is avoiding scheduling aircraft on Saturday, at least for now. Given the initial scheduling, it is unlikely that it will add early morning or later evening flights.

Aircraft one and two are likely to be fully deployed while the third isn’t. Assuming new services will also be three-weekly, expect three new route announcements shortly.

Where would you like to see aha! fly next? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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