Rarely is a single flight so contentious. But with one daily flight between New York John F. Kennedy Airport and Milan’s Malpensa Airport, Emirates has irked some of the major players in the U.S. aviation industry.
Delta unveiled the first half of its $229 million renovation Los Angeles International Airport last week, and while there’s no ‘wow’ factor in the upgrades, Terminal 5 is looking much cleaner and brighter than before.
Los Angeles World Airports, the landlord, is paying nearly all of the upgrades, with the Transportation Security Administration funding about $25 million in security improvements and Delta adding another $12 million for so-called “proprietary improvements.”
Most of Delta’s big changes will come in 2015, when Phase 2 improvements such as a wider security checkpoint and special VIP lobby will be finished. But I got a look this week at Phase 1.
Here’s what I learned:
Delta Air Lines, the third-largest carrier by market share at Los Angeles International Airport, plans to begin twice daily service to Boston on April 7.
More bad news Friday for frequent fliers.
Delta moved to further devalue its Skymiles program, which means you will soon need more miles to redeem most “free” award tickets. It’s a bit of an unusual move, as Delta had already announced it would devalue its program starting on June 1. That led many people to try to book award tickets before then, so they could take advantage of current rates.
But on Friday, Delta announced something of an interim increase in mileage rates. Between Feb. 1 and May 31, Delta has introduced a new award chart, with — you guessed it — higher rates than the current ones for many routes.
Mile charts are pretty complicated — the number of miles required depends on many, many factors — so it’s probably best to go to Delta’s site to see the changes for yourself.
Delta has been getting a reputation as being especially stingy with its frequent flier program, which some people have nicknamed “skypesos.” The airline has been moving steadily in recent years to devalue miles.
The Delta move comes on the heels of one another one last week by United, which considerably de-valued parts of its Mileage Plus program. While passengers who redeem tickets on United will only see modest increases, travelers who use their miles on partner airlines like Lufthansa will see great increases in the number of miles required.
My advice is to use your miles as quickly as you earn them. The longer you keep them, usually, the less they end up being worth.
After I first published this blog post, Delta sent over a statement. It reads:
“To balance continued investments in products and services, we regularly evaluate Award pricing and adjust it periodically. Select redemption levels have been updated for Award Tickets booked on or after November 8, 2013, for travel on or after February 1, 2014. Customers can continue to book Award Tickets for travel before February 1, 2014, at the current Award redemption levels.”
I linked to it earlier today, but I think it’s worth taking another look at Brett Snyder’s interview with Daniel Shurz, Senior Vice President – Commercial for Frontier Airlines.
In one of the most interesting parts, Schurz says the U.S. market needs more ultra-low cost carriers, like Allegiant and Spirit. He says the airlines we now view as low cost — Southwest and Jetblue among them — are not really LCCs in the European model.
Into and out of the UK on intra-Europe flying, ULCCs account for over 50% of capacity. In all of Europe, it’s just over a third. Spirit and Allegiant represent slightly below 3% of US capacity. Even if you include Frontier, we want to get to the ULCC point, it’s still under 4.5% of the capacity. I think that leaves a significant opportunity for ULCCs in the US market, and I think it leaves an opportunity for differentiated strategies across the ULCCs.
Frontier has been making a play not only in its long-time home of Denver, but also in smaller airports in the Northeast, such as Trenton, N.J. Shurz tells Snyder that the region is ripe for an ultra low cost carrier.
And the world has changed. I think you’ve done work, Brett, to show how much domestic fares have risen notably on one airline, but also generally. And that’s what’s creating opportunity for ULCCs in the country. It’s that fare umbrella. The northeast never had low fares to the same extent since Southwest was never that big in the Northeast. And their failure to succeed in Philadelphia has led to fares rising. One of the things about Wilmington is that even though Baltimore fares are lower than in general in the northeast, they’re significantly higher than they were 5 to 10 years ago.
I’m not sure whether Frontier will be successful as the third ultra low cost carrier in the United States. But I do think the market needs more low-fare airlines to undercut carriers like United, American, Delta and even Jetblue and Southwest. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Do you think Frontier can make it? The airline likely will be sold in the next few days to Indigo Partners, a Phoenix investment firm.