Business Travel Briefing
For May 13-May 27, 2021
The briefing in brief: Southwest adds Hawaii routes from Phoenix and Las Vegas. Delta adds Dubrovnik flights this summer. United is slowly reopening United Clubs, but the business class Polaris Lounges remain closed. Israel closes Tel Aviv to inbound flights. Three more airlines want to fly international service to the United States. The Arizona Biltmore reopens. And more, including the daily Coronavirus update.

United Airlines last week began flights between John Wayne/Orange County and Honolulu and it's just the tip of the iceberg (so to speak) of new Hawaii service. Southwest Airlines today (May 13) announced a packet of new routes to the Aloha State launching as early as next month. Most notable: Flights between Las Vegas and Honolulu (June 6); Maui (June 27); Kona on the Big Island (September 7) and Kauai (September 8). Phoenix, a Southwest hub, will also get at least daily service to the same four Hawaii destinations beginning June 27. Southwest is adding more Hawaii service from Los Angeles and San Diego, too. But Hawaii isn't alone. Flights to Greece are booming. And Croatia, another Europe destination already open to Americans, is suddenly getting attention. United says it would begin flying to Dubrovnik from Newark in July and this week Delta Air Lines said it would begin a New York/Kennedy-Dubrovnik run beginning July 2. The four weekly flights will operate with 226-seat Boeing 767-300s configured with business class, Comfort+ and coach. It leaves American Airlines as the only holdout on Dubrovnik, especially odd given that American launched seasonal flights from Philadelphia in 2019, but cancelled the summer runs last year.

United Airlines has only 11 United Club locations open and all its much-touted Polaris business class lounges are closed. By the end of June, however, the carrier promises to reopen ten additional United Club outposts, including two more at its hubs in Houston/Intercontinental and Chicago/O'Hare and additional lounges at its San Francisco and Washington/Dulles hubs. Other reopenings include Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. All Polaris lounges remain closed with no target date for resumption of service, however.
        Priority Pass, which has been shaken by the imminent departure of dozens of Plaza Premium clubs, has scored a small coup by adding four Lufthansa business lounges. The clubs are at Detroit, Newark, JFK and Dulles. The clubs aren't available around the clock, however, so consult the Priority Pass app or its Web site for hours and admission conditions.
        Vancouver Airport was the scene of a gangland slaying this week. At about 3pm on Sunday (May 9), 28-year-old Karman Grewal was shot in front of the international terminal. Grewal was a high-profile member of the United Nations gang, which started in the Vancouver area about 20 years ago.

The ongoing violence engulfing Israel and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is also crippling the region's air bridge to the rest of the world. Israel this morning (May 13) closed Ben Gurion Airport to inbound traffic as Palestinian rocket attacks continue to target Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Some incoming flights headed to TLV were diverted to Ramon International in southern Israel and others were rerouted as far away as Athens. The airport's closure confirms the decision of major carriers to temporarily halt flights. After a smattering of tactical cancellations earlier this week, all three U.S. carriers serving TLV dumped their slates for the days ahead. At least four other airlines--British Airways, Lufthansa, Iberia and Virgin Atlantic--had halted their Tel Aviv runs before Ben Gurion was closed. El Al, the Israeli flag carrier, had run a skeletal service from TLV in recent days.

Traffic in the United States is still only about 60% of 2019 levels, but a passel of newish international airlines can't wait to fly here. For example: Ever heard of Neos Airlines? I didn't think so. For your edification, it's a 20-year-old, Milan-based carrier that started as a charter operator. Now it has transatlantic ambitions. Neos says it'll launch on the crowded New York-Milan run--five carriers already fly it--starting in June. The twice-weekly flights using Boeing 787-9 aircraft, will run between New York/Kennedy and Milan/Malpensa. Then there's Air Senegal, the five-year-old, state-run carrier. It has targeted September 2 as the launch of a twice-weekly Washington/Dulles-JFK-Dakar run with Airbus A330-900 planes. Also in the works: nonstops to Sofia, Bulgaria, from JFK thanks to Gullivair, an eight-month-old Bulgarian carrier. It's been approved by both the U.S. and Bulgarian government to fly Airbus A330s, although there are no details about a launch.
        Lufthansa has returned to the Dallas/Fort Worth-Frankfurt run with three weekly flights using Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
        Turkish Airlines says it will launch nonstops between Istanbul from Newark beginning May 21. Flights will operate twice a week and then go daily in June.

Boutique Air, a fast-growing independent commuter carrier, fired two pilots last week after a flight from Minneapolis to Ironwood, Michigan, was aborted just before takeoff. An emergency exit flew open as the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft was rolling down the runway. Boutique, which mostly operates as a subsidized Essential Air Service carrier, says it will now abandon Ironwood. It can't dump the route until the Transportation Department chooses a successor, however.
        Hertz this week chose a consortium of investors that valued the bankrupt car rental firm at about $7 billion. The winner of the court-ordered auction now must pass muster with shareholders. They are likely to vote yes because the winning bid means they'll receive about $1.50 a share, a rare payout for stockholders of a bankrupt firm.
        The Arizona Biltmore has reopened after a 15-month restoration and renovation. The 39-acre property, built in 1929 with some input from Frank Lloyd Wright, is now a part of the Waldorf Astoria brand. It also claims to be the birthplace of the original Tequila Sunrise cocktail.