American and Southwest are adding markets
12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, November 7, 2010
Things are looking up for the airline industry, with the top nine U.S. airlines reporting a profit this quarter. Airlines are busy adding flights and bringing back laid-off pilots and flight attendants.
We've seen the trend of airlines combining to get a larger market share, but American appears to be increasing its reach with a different tactic. Instead of merging or buying airlines, American has added a number of code shares, with airlines such as Canada's WestJet and Alaska Airlines, to increase its market.
American recently added 25 Canadian markets with its code-share agreement with WestJet. Travelers will fly between the U.S. and Canada on American and then connect on WestJet for flights within Canada. WestJet is a low-cost carrier, so it will be interesting to see if fares on flights to Canada go down.
American is also increasing flights to and from Los Angeles, with new destinations and more flights to current destinations. The airline plans to have more than 150 daily flights in and out of Los Angeles by this spring. American is adding flights between LA and cities such as Salt Lake City and Phoenix, and the carrier will offer code-share flights out of LA to markets such as Mexico with Alaska Airlines.
American also is starting to use Los Angeles as a gateway for flights to Asia and the Pacific. American is adding a Shanghai flight from LA. The airline can't do that out of Dallas without revision of its pilot contracts because of flight-time restrictions.
American now has a code-share agreement with Qantas' low-cost spinoff, Jetstar, on New Zealand flights, allowing American flights from LA to connect in New Zealand to flights operated by Jetstar.
While building markets from Los Angeles, American is taking on carriers such as United, which has always been a strong player there. It's also taking on Continental in Houston, US Airways in Phoenix, and Delta in Salt Lake City. We could see some interesting fares in these markets.
American just finished adding code-share flights with British Airways, and AA also made changes to its frequent-flier program that ended some restrictions on earning miles. Before, you had to fly trans-Atlantic on an American-operated flight to earn AAdvantage miles, but now you can fly on flights operated by British Airways and still earn AAdvantage miles.
American isn't the only carrier adding cities. Southwest will be starting flights between St. Louis and Newark on March 27, so Dallas travelers heading to Newark can fly there with one stop, in St. Louis.
Southwest also recently announced new service to the South Carolina cities of Greenville-Spartanburg and Charleston beginning March 13. When Southwest announced these routes, it offered fares as low as $30 one way, plus taxes and fees. Those sales are over now, but we do see some nice introductory fares when airlines add new markets. Keep a lookout for deals when you hear about new markets.