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January 15, 2019

Air Travel: Government Shutdown Hits U.S. Airports, New Flights




The U.S. government shutdown and a number of new flights lead this week's air travel news. 

Government Shutdown Causes Some U.S. Airport Delays

In the United States, the government shutdown is continuing to impact travel, with Delta warning of slower revenue growth in March and some U.S. airports continuing to warn of long wait times. In its fourth quarter earnings statement, Delta President Glen Hauenstein warned that the ongoing shutdown, as well as the timing of the Easter holiday and currency headwinds, could drag down the airline’s revenue growth, which it is forecasting to be flat to up to 2 percent in the March quarter.

Meanwhile, climbing absences by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel continue to cause problems with wait times at U.S. airports. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta’s main hub and one of the busiest airports in the world, warned that it is experiencing longer wait times than usual.

 

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which had had to close Terminal B’s security checkpoint and ticketing lobby over the weekend due to the TSA absences, reported Tuesday that that area will remain closed today. Passengers are advised to arrive early, as rerouting may take time. Concourse G at Miami International Airport resumed normal operations on Monday.

New Flights in Latin America

In flight news, this week Swoop, a Canada-based low-cost airline, announced service into Puerto Vallarta’s International Airport with the addition of two new routes. The airline will operate service out of British Columbia’s Abbotsford International Airport twice weekly starting January 12. Twice weekly service out of Ontario’s John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport began January 8. Puerto Vallarta also welcomed a new flight from Sunwing out of Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport on December 17, 2018; that seasonal route will operate every Monday until April 15, 2019. 

Elsewhere in Latin America, this week LATAM opened bookings for two new flights. A new route from São Paulo, Brazil, to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, will begin April 1, while a new Saturday flight on the airline’s São Paulo – Boston route will bring that route’s frequency to four to five times per week starting April 6. 

Norwegian to Expand Free Wi-Fi

Finally, in onboard product news, this week low-cost transatlantic carrier Norwegian announced plans to introduce free Wi-Fi on its intercontinental flights, which the airline says would make it the first low-cost carrier with such an offering. The new Wi-Fi will be available on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and 737 MAX aircraft, with the first Wi-Fi-enabled Dreamliner having been delivered December 18, 2018. While the airline’s Basic package, which is free, will be fast enough for email, internet and social media browsing, the airline said, there will also be a Premium option with speeds fast enough for music and video streaming. 

Norwegian said that more than 50 percent of its Dreamliner fleet would offer in-flight connectivity by 2020, with the rollout of Wi-Fi to its 737 MAX aircraft to begin in mid-January. The new service will use the inflight connectivity platform from CabinConnect by Collins Aerospace to provide Internet access, as well as in-flight map and voice and messaging services. 

 


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