Business Travel Briefing
For Aug. 22 to Sept. 5, 2019
The airlines add waves and waves of new Europe flights. The hotel industry may have finally added too many new rooms for its own good. United adds Tokyo/Haneda routes without eliminating its Narita hub. More sun-run flights for the winter season. American (eventually) will improve (a little) domestic first class cabins. And more.

How much do you love (or need) to fly to Europe? The airlines are hoping you absolutely adore it because they've scheduled wave after wave of new service starting next spring. Even with a good economy and low fuel prices, this expansion seems excessive. With a recession looming and a possible Brexit playing havoc with Europe's fundamentals, it seems downright foolhardy. So let's watch fares, keep a weather eye on economic conditions and see what happens. In the meantime, here's just some of the new routes and service that major transatlantic carriers have earmarked for next year:
      American Airlines is adding seasonal service from its Chicago/O'Hare hub to Krakow, Prague and Budapest. The nonstops will operate four or five times weekly with Boeing 787s between May and October. (LOT Polish already flies nonstop from Chicago to both Krakow and Budapest.) Philadelphia-Bologna flights, a seasonal service that American launched this year, won't return, however. And the carrier's Reykjavik service will move to Philadelphia next year, replacing its current Dallas/Fort Worth flights.
      Delta Air Lines and its British vassal, Virgin Atlantic, will add more flights starting March 28. There'll now be a total of eight combined daily roundtrips between New York/Kennedy and London's Heathrow Airport, including Delta's first daylight JFK-Heathrow run. Also new: London/Gatwick runs from both Boston/Logan and JFK beginning May 20. On March 29, the carriers will add Heathrow frequencies from both Los Angeles and Seattle/Tacoma. Delta will also return to Manchester, England, with a summer service from Logan beginning May 21. In total, the new flights represent a 15 percent boost in U.S.-England capacity from this summer.
      Lufthansa will introduce nonstops to Munich from both Seattle and Detroit. Flights launch in the spring and will operate five or six times weekly with Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Meanwhile, the low-fare division, Eurowings, will add flights from Munich to Las Vegas and Orlando as well as flights from Frankfurt to Anchorage and Phoenix. The Eurowings nonstops are seasonal, operating between April 20 and the end of summer.
      Swissair will add a second Washington/Dulles-Zurich roundtrip on March 29 using Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
      TAP Air Portugal will add 15 more flights between its existing North American gateways and Portugal next year. That'll give it 71 daily flights next summer, up from just 14 in 2015.
      United Airlines adds a Chicago/O'Hare-Zurich route on March 28 using Boeing 767-300ERs heavily skewed to premium class passengers. There'll also be additional frequencies from Newark to both Amsterdam and Frankfurt and two new seasonal routes. Newark-Nice and Newark-Palermo both launch in May. The Nice run will compete with the all-business-class service pioneered this summer by La Compagnie while the Palermo route will supplement United's seasonal Newark-Naples service that began this year.

Has the lodging industry built too many new hotel and added too many rooms too fast? Maybe. After a decade of unprecedented growth in supply and rate increases, the lodging scene is souring. Analysts say second-quarter results have come in substantially lower than expected. Occupancy levels, which had been growing even as the new inventory came online, flattened out. And the key measures of financial health, average daily rate and RevPAR (revenue per available room), grew only about one percent. If the bubble has burst for the lodging industry, things are surely going to get worse in the months ahead. According to Lodging Econometrics, a forecasting firm, Marriott has 1,500 projects and nearly 200,000 rooms in the development pipeline. Hilton is not far behind with nearly 1,400 new hotels and almost 155,000 rooms on the way. And InterContinental has 980 new projects with 100,000 rooms in development. Stay tuned, folks. Rate relief may be on the way.
      Hilton opened a new dual-brand operation on Airport Tower Road just outside the grounds of Denver International Airport. The combination of Tru and Homewood Suites has 186 rooms.

When Delta Air Lines got a batch of new slots at Tokyo's close-in Haneda airport, it did what everyone expected: It blew off its Tokyo/Narita hub and announced it was moving all flights to Haneda. United Airlines is taking a different tact, however. With its new Haneda slots, it is adding new Tokyo flights and keeping most of its existing Narita schedule. Effective March 28, it'll add daily service from Haneda to its hubs at Chicago/O'Hare, Los Angeles, Newark, and Washington/Dulles. (United already flies between Haneda and its San Francisco hub.) The two Narita routes that United will axe are runs to O'Hare and Dulles. On the other hand, LAX and Newark will now have flights to both Narita and Haneda. The new Haneda service will operate with a mix of Boeing 777-200ER aircraft and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
      Air Canada is adding two transborder routes when it takes possession of the Airbus A220-300 aircraft. There'll be new daily flights on a Montreal-Seattle route and daily service on a Toronto-San Jose route. Both new flights are scheduled to begin on May 4. The plane will be configured with business class and a 2x3 coach cabin with 19-inch wide seats. Air Canada's promotional page for the new aircraft is here.

There's still a month of summer to go in the Northern Hemisphere, but that isn't stopping airlines from bulking up their winter sunbird flight schedules. Here's what's new--or, in many cases, what's new again:
      San Juan once again gets a Delta Air Lines flight from its Detroit/Metro hub. There'll be a weekly Boeing 737-800 flight beginning December 21. Delta hasn't flown the route since 2017.
      Boston/Logan gets two American Airlines sunbird routes that US Airways had abandoned in 2010. There'll be seasonal weekly flights to both Grand Cayman and Nassau starting on January 11. Both runs will use Boeing 737-800s.
      Newark gets a United Airlines nonstop to Curacao for the first time since 2013. There'll be weekly flights on Boeing 737-700s beginning December 7.
      Toronto/Pearson is getting a WestJet flight to Roatan, Honduras, starting on December 15. There'll be a weekly Boeing 737 nonstop with premium and coach seats.

Wondering why airline fares are relatively flat? Here's a plausible explanation: U.S. carriers paid an average of just $2.01 a gallon for jet fuel in June. That's down 20 cents from average jet-fuel prices in June, 2018, according to the Department of Transportation.
      American Airlines admitted a partial defeat on its despised Project Oasis refit of narrowbody jets. Although coach will remain in the same heinous configuration, American next year will tweak the first class layout. A seat post will be moved to allow underseat storage and tablet and cup holders will be added.