Business Travel Briefing
For August 1 to 15, 2019
The briefing in brief: Delta moving Tokyo operations to Haneda from Narita. American adding flights at Phoenix hub. Cape Air going where the big guys fear to fly. Washington/Dulles gets a route to Cape Verde Islands. British pound falls to lowest level since 2016 Brexit vote.

Delta Air Lines--and Northwest Airlines before it--has hubbed at Narita Airport since it opened in 1978 and Japan designated it as Tokyo's international gateway. Before that, of course, Northwest operated since 1947 from Haneda, Tokyo's, smaller, closer airport. (Pan Am and Northwest were given Tokyo hubs as literal spoils of war.) But the problem with Narita is distance. It's around 70 kilometers from downtown Tokyo. A private cab transfer requires at least 90 minutes and costs around US$200 while buses and trains need at least two hours. Under pressure in recent decades, the Japanese government has slowly reopened Haneda to long-haul international traffic. Delta has agitated endlessly for the right to move back to Haneda and slashed Narita capacity repeatedly since 2012. The airline in May won preliminary government approval for additional Haneda flights. The result? Delta confirmed this week that it would exit Narita and return to Haneda in March. But it won't be a "hub" anymore. Due to Narita's issues and a long-stagnant Japanese economy, Delta already has refocused intra-Asia service at Seoul's slick Incheon Airport, where it partners with Korean Air. When Delta moves back to Haneda, it will only fly to U.S. cities. Connecting intra-Asia flying will be gone, including Narita-Singapore, which Delta dumps next month, and Tokyo-Manila, which Delta ends in March. When it merged with Delta in 2008, Northwest flew from Narita to nine cities in Asia as well as to Saipan and Guam.

American Airlines is having a horrible, no-good, really bad 2019, cancelling flights like crazy and running an awful on-time operation. How will it fix its problems? Add flights. Beginning December 18, there'll be three new routes from its Phoenix hub: Cincinnati, Colorado Springs and Fargo. All three will operate with Airbus A319s.
      San Francisco has another new restaurant scooped from streetside. Starbird, a local chicken chain, has opened in Terminal 1.

Cape Air, a small commuter carrier that flies for and with American, United and JetBlue, nevertheless continues to build its own branded operation. First up, a new route from Boston's Logan Airport to Portland, Maine. Four daily flights using 9-seat Cessna 402 aircraft launch September 18, the first service between the two cities in nearly 15 years. More notable: Cape Air's decision to offer year-round flights between New York/Kennedy and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Cape Air has run the routes seasonally in recent years, but there'll be one daily flight on each route all year starting on September 16. Cessna 40s will service that run, too.
      JetBlue Airways has moved to Terminal 2 at Chicago/O'Hare. Until yesterday (July 31), it operated in Terminal 3.

It's okay if you've never heard of Cabo Verde Airlines. It only has one U.S. route--from Boston to its home of Sal in the Cape Verde Islands. And Cape Verde, despite lovely beaches and pleasant weather, is probably only known as a refueling stop for carriers making the long runs between the Americas and Africa. But the islands will get more press now that Cabo Verde is adding a second U.S. route: from Sal to Washington/Dulles. Starting December 8 there'll be three weekly flights using Boeing 757s. One other note: Because island carriers should stick together, Icelandair earlier this year became the majority owner of Cabo Verde.
      Hong Kong Airlines is dropping its flights to San Francisco from Hong Kong. A division of the shaky HNA conglomerate, the airline has been dropping international routes although LAX flights remain on the schedule.
      United Airlines is dropping its Chicago/O'Hare-Leon, Mexico, route on September 2. United blames the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX series, but the route is operated with Embraer 175s.
      American Airlines is bailing on Bolivia. Flights between its Miami hub and its sole Bolivian route, Santa Cruz, end on November 28.

How's Brexit going now that Brexiteer-in-chief Boris Johnson last week became British Prime Minister? The pound sterling closed just above $1.21 today (August 1), its lowest rate since the United Kingdom voted in 2016 to leave the European Union.
      Air France/KLM will retire its fleet of 10 Airbus A380s by 2022. The super-jumbo has been a disaster for Airbus and airlines have been considering the aircraft's future since the planemaker said earlier this year that it would end production.
      West Elm, the furniture firm, has apparently abandoned its plans to open a string of hotels. The chain had committed to opening its first property in Indianapolis, but last week quietly bailed on the project, a mixed-use development rising along Massachusetts Avenue.
      Raffles, the iconic Singapore hotel that first opened in 1887, has reopened after a top-to-bottom restoration that began in February, 2017.