Category: Cranky Flier CF

The Great Maui Sugar and Potato Chip Adventure…

The Great Maui Sugar and Potato Chip Adventure (Trip Report):

Bidding continues through Wednesday for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Dinner. You can get full information and place your bids here. Here are the current top bids:


During my month-long stay in Hawai’i, I told my kids they could each have a special “dad adventure.” My daughter unsurprisingly chose to go and swim with dolphins since she is an animal lover. But my son wanted to go fly to another island. He didn’t really care where, but he just figured it would be fun to go somewhere.

In true airline dork fashion, I lined up photos of all the different planes he could take, and then I figured we would narrow down destinations by the airplanes he wanted to fly. Southwest was quickly out since he’s flown them plenty. In the end, he really liked the idea of flying a Mokulele Grand Caravan and a Hawaiian 717. That made our option clear – Kahului or bust.

The question was… what should we do there? I found a few options that were relatively close to the airport, so we could easily take a rideshare and not have to deal with rental cars. His choice? The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. I had driven by it many times on my way from the airport down to south Maui, but I had never been in. Even though sugar cane cultivation ended on the island in 2016 after nearly 150 years, the museum still stands across from the imposing, vacant mill.

That sounded like a great plan, but there was one more thing I had to do. My favorite potato chip in the world is Kitch’n Cook’d from the Maui Potato Chip Factory. The problem is, it’s really hard to find and is only sold in a few stores on Maui and at the factory near the airport. Since we were going to be there… oh we’d definitely have to stop and pick up some bags. It was time to book flights.

I’m not sure how long Mokulele has competed against Hawaiian in that market, but I was happy to see a 10am flight out that would get us in at 11. Booking was challenging since there was only one seat left at the lowest fare. I couldn’t do that online since my son would show up as an unaccompanied minor, and you can’t book those on the website. So I called and spoke to a friendly agent who was able to book us both on the same reservation at different fares. It was an average of $69 each.

After doing a little math, I figured the 1:43pm return on Hawaiian would be about right. Once again, there was only one seat available at the lowest fare, so I had to jump through hoops. Booking on separate reservations was easy, but they wouldn’t assign a seat for my son until I called them and linked the reservations. This cost us an average of $79 each. I was going to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but it was far more expensive using their system.

I was worried that former Hurricane Erick was going to snarl plans. He dumped rain on Maui the day before, but things looked good for our travels. I grabbed my carry on bag and brought it with me… completely empty. Then my wife gave us a ride down to the airport.

Terminal 3, as they call it, has been Mokulele’s home since they knocked down the old commuter terminal last year to pave the way for new gates for Hawaiian. Once I arrived, I couldn’t help but laugh. The “terminal” is basically a double-wide trailer missing a couple walls.

Inside there is a small check-in desk and a couple bathrooms. There is some seating on the inside under cover, but there’s also seating outside. We walked outside and watched the planes go by.

Our aircraft arrived from Moloka’i about half an hour before our flight. Fifteen minutes before departure, they called all 9 of us to the fence for boarding. There we were given our row assignments (we had row 3) and we were escorted on to the airfield to board.


August 3, 2019
Mokulele 710 Lv Honolulu 10a Arr Kahului 11a
Honolulu (HNL): Gate Yeah, there was literally a metal gate, Runway 4L, Depart 10m Early
Kahului (OGG): Gate Uh huh, another metal gate, Runway 5, Arrive 10m Early
N835MA, Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, Standard Mokulele colors, 9/9 Full
Seat 3B, Coach
Flight Time 45m

The airplane was hot, and there was a significant amount of glitter on our seats, something I would only expect to see on a Thursday night Burbank to Vegas flight. We sat down, got the short safety briefing, and then they fired up the engines giving us much-needed air conditioning. We moved out 10 minutes early.

For the couple days prior, the flight had taken a route between Moloka’i and Lana’i, so I told my son to sit on the left side for a better view. Little did I know we were in for a treat.

We taxied out to the short runway 4L and took off, bouncing toward altitude as we cruised over the water with a view of Waikiki and Diamond Head on the left. The windows are so big that you can get a good view looking either way.

We made our way to 7,000 feet — the required altitude for the crossing of the channel — before we settled in and cruised over toward Moloka’i. This time, we were routed to the north of the island, so I had the good views on my side. We first passed by Papohaku Beach and the mostly-abandoned old resort on the west end.

We were able to descend down to 2,500 feet once we had crossed the channel, and that gave us fantastic views up close. The cliffs started to gradually increase in size as we headed east.

We soon found ourselves over Kalaupapa, the old colony for people with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) which I wrote about two years ago.

Lastly we passed rugged and remote eastern Moloka’i with its waterfalls.

After a quick pass over the water to Maui, we came in from the north and landed a few minutes early.

We hopped into a Lyft and made our way to the museum. It’s a great little spot to get a sense of both the process and what life was like working in the fields. I’d recommend it to anyone with an hour to kill.

Once we finished, we took another Lyft and went straight to the potato chip factory. The couple that runs it were just sitting there chatting as I came in with my empty bag. After stuffing the thing full, I also grabbed a tiny bag for our driver, and then we went back to the airport.

At the airport, the Precheck line was non-existent, but the regular line snaked around the airport. I highly recommend getting Precheck if you fly out of Kahului.

Upstairs, we stopped at Burger King for some lunch and then wandered the halls trying to kill some time. We succeeded.

Our aircraft arrived a little late. The boarding area was packed. Departure time came and they were still only pre-boarding. When they called group 3, the scrum slowly started to move.


August 3, 2019
Hawaiian 275 Lv Kahului 143p Arr Honolulu 224p
Kahului (OGG): Gate 11, Runway 2, Depart 8m Late
Honolulu (HNL): Gate A15, Runway 4R, Arrive 12m Late
N492HA, Boeing 717-2BL, Maile lei colors, ~99% Full
Seat 21B, Coach
Flight Time 28m

They ended up boarding people pretty quickly. Despite the late start, we pushed back only 8 minutes late which was a surprise. Then it was a short taxi to the end of the runway, and we were soon airborne.

It’s always gusty coming out of Kahului, but there were a couple on our climb that seemed to push us straight sideways by a few feet at a time. The airplane took it in stride as we soared upward and circled around West Maui.

Once above 10,000 feet, it smoothed out and we topped out at 14,000 feet. They came through with water or POG juice, so I was able to introduce my son to his first onboard POG experience. It always reminds me of traveling between the islands as a kid, so it was fun to pass that on.

There wasn’t much sight-seeing to be done at that altitude considering the clouds below, but it wasn’t long before we were descending anyway. They were landing on 4R so we headed out well over the water before lining up to come back in. Just like on the return from Lana’i, we descended really low — this time down to 2,000 feet — and stayed there for a couple minutes. Then we came in for a landing and taxied back.

My wife picked us up and we were heading back home just a few hours after we started.

August 20, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Southwest Finally Gets (More) Serious About Bu…

Southwest Finally Gets (More) Serious About Business Travel:

Bidding continues through Wednesday for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Dinner. You can get full information and place your bids here. Here are the current top bids:


It is odd to think of Southwest as not being serious about business travel. After all, contrary to popular belief, it’s business travel that has always been Southwest’s bread and butter. Those frequent first flights in the Texas Triangle (Dallas-Houston-San Antonio) weren’t going to succeed on the then-anemic leisure travel demand. It was the business traveler looking for a deal (and free liquor) that brought success.

That original model has held for decades. That may sound good, but the problem is that Southwest has often stuck to its guns and refused to adapt quickly enough over time, if at all, to new realities. That has kept Southwest in a proverbial box that I and others would argue it could have busted out of with different priorities.

Though selling to business travelers has always been at the core of the business, selling to managed travel accounts has not. “Managed travel” in a nutshell is when a company uses a travel agency to handle its corporate travel policies, bookings, and reporting. These agencies have long preferred to handle bookings through the Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) which make it easy to compile everything in one system. That makes reporting and compliance much easier to manage.

Southwest, as most people know, has long held firm to its desire to sell everything direct. That’s fine for unmanaged travel, but it’s a real pain for people who manage travel. Tools have been built to overcome this issue, but it’s still not enough.

Southwest has timidly dipped its toes into the GDS waters, but the effort has been generally useless for those companies where price matters. For example, if I look up a flight from Los Angeles to Nashville in a couple days, I get this on Southwest.com:

But when I look in Sabre, that Wanna Get Away fare is non-existent. The lowest fare is the Anytime $592 fare. It’s not that all Wanna Get Away fares are excluded, but it’s hard to know when a lower fare will pop up. In other words, it’s impossible to rely upon the GDS today, so that defeats the purpose of participating in the GDS.

Even when booking in the GDS, Southwest doesn’t have full participation. Agents can’t see flight availability, and ticketing is handled in a roundabout way that’s different than with nearly every other airline. Southwest segments also can’t be put into the same reservation as other airline segments.

For its best customers, Southwest has created “direct connect” options which feed more fare content into large agent systems. But for smaller customers, agents have to rely on SWABIZ, the old booking system for corporates that recently got a refresh but still lacks basic functionality like the ability to book multi-city flights.

Southwest has long believed that it just didn’t need to play ball. It had become big, and it dominated in many mid-size markets. It could sell direct and still do just as well as if it sold through third parties. Selling through third parties costs money, so why bother? Well, to the surprise of very few outside Southwest, there are very good reasons.

Participating in the GDS makes the airline instantly more visible to corporates. That’s particularly helpful considering the airline has spread into more big markets where it doesn’t have a large share. (Remember Newark?) In those markets, agencies are less likely to go to Southwest.com (let alone SWABIZ).

But even in markets where it dominates, Southwest could still likely benefit from participating in the GDSs more fully. Costs to do so have come down, and the revenue benefits have proven to be large for legacy carriers. Southwest may not have an identical model as those airlines, but it’s long been clear there was benefit to be had.

So it was with great relief when I saw Southwest announce it was finally going to play the game properly. Along with a re-branding from Southwest Corporate Travel to Southwest Business, the airline will now fully participate in Galileo and Amadeus GDSs. Now, this doesn’t help me since I use Sabre, but I have to imagine that will follow eventually. This doesn’t sound like a strategic issue but rather an economic one.

This means agencies can search for and book Southwest in their GDSs just as they do other airlines… when this goes live in the back half of 2020. It will make multi-city bookings possible along with changes and cancellations. It makes Southwest far more attractive to those people actually responsible for booking a ton of travel.

What’s not clear is whether this will actually be full participation or not. On the website, Southwest says it will offer “Access to our everyday low Southwest fares through your channel of choice.” That mention of “everyday” makes me a little nervous. Not all sale fares will be included? It’s hard to know for sure. If it’s not all fares, then that’s frustrating. For consumers, I should also note that this doesn’t mean Southwest will participate in online travel agents like Priceline or Expedia. That isn’t part of the plan. The scope is narrow, but the benefits will add up.

Southwest says that for the back half of 2020 when this launches, it should contribute $10 to $20 million directly to the bottom line. That’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s also probably underestimating the true impact. I’m guessing that this math is what convinced Southwest it didn’t need to pursue this sooner.

It’s a relief to see Southwest finally come around to the reality that GDS participation is a good thing. Agents will be happy, and it should also make it easier for Southwest to expand into markets where it doesn’t have a dominant presence. Finally.

August 19, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Bidding is Open for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Pr…

Bidding is Open for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Terminal Dinner:

I mentioned before that I was trying to put together a small event in the evening right after Cranky Dorkfest on September 7. I’m pleased to report that it has come together quite nicely.

Ten of you will join me behind security on a progressive dinner through LAX starting in Terminal 7 and ending in the Bradley Terminal. United and American have planned some special surprises along the way. To make it even better, half of all net proceeds will be donated to the Flight Path Museum at LAX.

If you’ve read all the details below and are ready to bid, you can do it below or click here. Otherwise, read on below the form for details…

Here’s the current plan which is subject to change if required:

  • Terminal 7 – Arrive by 4:15pm for a visit to United’s LAX operations center followed by a drink in the United Polaris Lounge (courtesy of United)
  • Terminal 6 – An appetizer at a restaurant or lounge to be determined
  • Terminal 5 – Main course and one drink at a restaurant to be determined
  • Terminal 4 – Tour of American’s Admirals Club, Flagship Lounge, and Flagship Dining Room followed by dessert in the American Flagship Lounge conference room overlooking the ramp (courtesy of American)
  • Bradley Terminal (TBIT) – After-dinner drink at a bar to be determined

We’ll spent 1 to 1.5 hours at each stop, so it will wrap up between 10 and 11.
We will all walk together to make sure we keep everything running on time. Oh, and everything mentioned above is included in your bid. What’s not included? If you want more drinks or more food, that’s on you. If you drive, parking is extra at the regular LAX rates.

Since there are so few spots, I’m running this as an auction with half of the net proceeds going to the Flight Path Museum at LAX. Bids are open now and they start at $150, though I’m hopeful it will go up quickly from there so I can write the Flight Path a nice check.

Bidding will remain open until Wednesday, August 21 at 5pm PT. The 10 highest bids will be chosen, and at that point, a link will be sent to each winner to request payment. Payment has to be received by Monday, August 26 or the spot will be given to the next person on the list.

If you’d like to follow along and see how things stand, you can do it here. Or the current top ten is embedded below. Keep refreshing the page to see the updated list.

If you bid and see that you’ve been bumped off, you can either go back to your existing bid and revise it or you can just submit a new bid with the same email address. You can bid as many times as you’d like, but each bidder can only win one spot. No guests are allowed, so if you’re a couple, bid separately.

This is going to be one fun event. I’m looking forward to finding out who will be joining me and to seeing how much we can raise for the Flight Path. Get your bids in before 5pm PT on August 21 for your chance to join the party.

Bid now!

August 16, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airp…

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airport (Part 2):

If you missed it, yesterday The Cardinal returned to guest post about San Bernardino International Airport and the scandal that led to its commercial terminal being built… and completely unused. Today, he looks into why that is.


At best it seems the San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) commercial terminal was built by people driven by willful wishful thinking. But still, it’s there, it’s ready to go, and any airline will get a heck of a deal. Terminal and landing fees are rock bottom relative to most big airports. A lot of people live near SBD. Put a 25 mile radius circle around the airport, there are 2.7mm people. Put a 50 mile radius circle around it, there are 9mm people. So why hasn’t SBD attracted an airline?

There are problems. While the Inland Empire is booming, the
city of San Bernardino is troubled. 40-50 years ago, it was prosperous – dubbed
an All-American city, it was the place where such American icons as McDonalds
and Taco Bell got their start and the first city you came to on Route 66 after
descending the Cajon Pass into the LA Basin. Today, it’s one of the poorest
cities in Southern California and the San Bernardino brand name isn’t so great
for potential passengers in the LA Basin. Ironically, part of the problem was
the 1994 shutdown of Norton AFB (today’s SBD), which at one time supported a
population (including dependents) of as
many as 22,000 people
. The poverty in the city also means that many of
those who live closest have the least wherewithal to afford air travel.

But the bigger issue is that eccentric development had serious consequences, because the terminal is about as badly located as it could be.

A quick look at a map shows the problem – the commercial terminal is in the center of the rectangle formed by the freeways around SBD – I-215 to the west, I-10 along the south, and CA-210 on the north and east. The SBD terminal is essentially as far as it is possible to be from the freeways, the Southern California circulatory system. Yeah, that’s really dumb, because air travel is in significant part about convenience, and end-to-end travel time matters greatly. Before they fly, passengers need to get to the airport, and after they land, they need to get from airport to home. The shorter that journey, the better.

I-10 is the main east-west freeway through the LA basin, and from I-10 to SBD, the relevant road is Tippecanoe. From the I-10 eastbound exit onto Tippecanoe to the SBD terminal, there are 14 traffic lights and a railroad crossing totaling 15 opportunities to stop on the way to the airport after you exit the freeway. Tippecanoe is surrounded by warehouses, including a gigantic complex for the Stater Bros supermarket chain. So there are trucks everywhere and next to the freeway there’s also a Costco, motels and other traffic generators. Tippecanoe is hardly an empty free-wheeling boulevard down which to dash.

It’s little better from the other freeways. Coming eastbound
along CA-210 to the north, it’s 12 traffic lights before the terminal. Coming
northbound along CA-210 to the east, it’s 11 traffic lights. Coming southbound
along I-215 to the west, it’s 16 traffic lights and a railroad crossing. However
you try to get to SBD from a freeway, Google Maps says it’s 3-4 miles and about
a 9 or 10 min drive from the freeway – and that’s at times of the day without
congestion. That is a lot of street driving through a city with an iffy
reputation.

By comparison, going westbound along I-10 to ONT, it’s only
four traffic lights from the ONT exit to the ONT terminals – only three minutes
and less than a mile according to Google. Once you get to the ONT I-10 exit,
you’re more-or-less there because ONT is immediately to the south. ONT may be
underserved, but it’s not for lack of access.

Whiffing on the one
good terminal location

To be fair, access to SBD was always going to be challenging
because the Santa Ana River runs along the south edge of the airport, and
there’s a decent distance between the Santa Ana and I-10. The Santa Ana is dry
most of the year, but the river and its “washes” (low lying areas into which it
occasionally floods) are environmentally sensitive. So development to the south
of the airport is tough, even though that’s where you’d want a terminal to be
if you want access to I-10. Indeed, the primacy of access to I-10 was once well
understood – in 1980, while Norton AFB was still in operation, a developer
wanted to build a commercial
terminal at Tippecanoe and I-10
. The Air Force pushed back on this idea to
protect the base – only to have it selected for shutdown in 1988.

There is one exception, however. At the western side of the southern edge of the airport is a warehouse complex immediately adjacent to the runway, most of it occupied by two Amazon buildings. This was constructed starting in 2008-2009. Prior to that, the land was vacant. Actually, back in the Air Force days, it was the base’s 18-hole golf course. Apparently it was important to have a place to relax after a busy day shipping draftees to Vietnam.

This location was, by far, the best possible site for an SBD commercial terminal. The location is a four-minute drive from I-10 along Tippecanoe and involves six traffic lights (and the railroad crossing). It’s even faster from I-10 via the Mountain View exit, but access to the Amazon site from I-10 via Mountain View was actually built as part of the Amazon warehouse project; it didn’t exist in 2008. Nonetheless, that site was still by far the best place for a passenger terminal at SBD in terms of access, and when SBIAA/IVDA started thinking about a commercial service in the early-to-mid 2000s, that land was still vacant.

No doubt Amazon also appreciates being close to I-10, but
boxes don’t mind traffic lights and trucks and warehouses and a few extra miles
nearly as much as does human cargo. The site SBD actually used for a terminal
is surrounded by warehouses, so clearly it was at least within the realm of the
possible to have used today’s commercial terminal location for warehouses and
use the Amazon site for a terminal. Indeed, an air cargo base is being
developed for the north side of SBD for what
everyone assumes is Amazon
. Woulda shoulda coulda. Oh well.

Though it still leaves the question as to whether SBD would ever attract commercial service even if it had good access. But to the extent it does, being close to a freeway is a big factor. “Build it and they will come” is a dangerous proposition, but if you build it where access is easy, you’re certainly better off than building it where access is hard. If they can’t find it, they certainly won’t come.

I tend to believe that as LAX and Orange County (SNA) run out of capacity and/or become more expensive, and as Southern California freeways become ever more congested, alternative airports like ONT and SBD will have their day. But for sure that day will come faster if passenger terminals at such airports are easy to access. ONT is in good shape, but stashing the SBD terminal as far from the freeways as possible was the worst thing the SBIAA could have done in that regard. Eight years of vacant terminal baking in the sun is proof, and there’s every chance it will continue to bake, vacant, for years to come, notwithstanding the bargain rates an airline would get at SBD.

Can anything be done?

It would take major investment to improve access to the
current SBD terminal – to eliminate traffic lights (perhaps some kind of
one-way system?), to increase speed limits, etc. It’s not hard to imagine that
in the end it might cost more than re-locating the terminal elsewhere and turning
over the existing space for more warehouses. It seems pretty unlikely that a
limited-access road (i.e. mini freeway) could be built to the existing terminal
from I-10, and that’s really what is needed to properly address the issue.

But the aforementioned problems with the Santa Ana River
likely make another location a heavy lift. Assuming you could wave a magic wand
and eliminate possible environmental issues, perhaps a site south of the runway at the
east end
, near/next to CA-210 might result in the best access, since in
theory it could be immediately adjacent to a freeway, even if is further away
from the vast bulk of the LA Basin (and Inland Empire) population to the west.
Trading off a few more miles for direct freeway access might be worth it.

And if that’s not possible, then the next best place may be to the north and east of
the runway
, again as close to I-210 as possible, along 3rd St.
But these are at best second-and-third best solutions relative to the one that
the airport foreclosed when they whiffed on the location now occupied by
Amazon, and built, instead, on what is almost certainly the worst location.

It turns out that when you empower people who have no idea what they’re doing, bad outcomes can ensue, even if that’s not their intent. What happened at San Bernardino might not have been criminal, but it was surely a mistake. Eight years of vacant terminal has already shown that.


If you missed the first part of this story, you can find it here.

August 15, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airp…

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airport (Part 1):

Long time readers of the blog may remember reading guests posts written by The Cardinal. He has a long history in the airline industry and has always remained anonymous here, but his guest posts stopped back in 2011. I’m happy to report that The Cardinal is back, and I have a two-parter for you. Today he looks at the bizarre history of San Bernardino International Airport. Tomorrow he identifies the current problems and ponders what can be done to fix them.


Riverside
and San Bernardino Counties
comprise California’s Inland Empire, two giant inland counties behind Los
Angeles and Orange County on the coast. San Bernardino County is physically
enormous, twice the area of the next largest US county, larger than nine US
states and many countries (e.g. Switzerland or the Netherlands). Riverside is
smaller, but still the sixth largest by area in the US. If you’ve ever driven
from LA to Vegas, almost 200
miles of the trip is in San Bernardino County
, from the time you leave LA
County near Pomona, up the Cajon Pass, through desert cities like Victorville,
Barstow and Baker, and until you come down the hill to Primm, Nevada.

Both counties extend over vast stretches of desert to the Arizona border, but near Los Angeles they are densely populated with 2.5 mm people in Riverside and 2.2mm in San Bernardino. That makes them the 10th and 14th largest counties in the US by population. Each county lies in the LA Combined Statistical Area (CSA) — the broadest view of metro area by the US Census Bureau which also incorporates Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties — comprising almost 19mm people, the second largest in the US after the New York CSA. Despite their heft, the Inland Empire counties are relatively poor compared to their coastal counterparts in the LA CSA.

Despite its over 4.6mm people, the Inland Empire has only two airports with commercial service – Ontario (ONT) and Palm Springs (PSP). PSP is in the Coachella Valley which has as many as 0.5mm people located outside the LA Basin. So over 4mm people in the Inland Empire use ONT for air service – or drive, as many do, an hour or two or more (depending on traffic) to coastal LA-area airports like LA Intl (LAX) or Orange County (SNA). It’s not hard to make the case that the Inland Empire is starved for air service. ONT passengers in 2018 were down substantially relative to 1998, despite 30%+ Inland Empire population growth over the same period.

A complete Inland Empire passenger terminal, unwanted, unused – why?

Against this backdrop, consider San Bernardino International Airport (SBD), located in the city of San Bernardino towards the back of the LA Basin. SBD is the former Norton AFB (many US soldiers departed to Vietnam from Norton) and holds certification from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to operate as a commercial passenger airport.

If you zoom Google
Maps
satellite view to the northeast corner of SBD, you will find, baking
in the sun, a passenger terminal complex, with check-in desks, baggage systems
and jetway gates on a second floor, up escalators. There are 2,500 parking
spaces. There are elaborate driveways in-and-out of the terminal, ample space
to pick up and let-down passengers from cars and buses. It’s all empty and has
been since it was completed in 2011. Don’t forget the separate one-gate
international terminal. Over $100mm was spent on this vacant complex. Why is it
there and why is no airline interested?

A bizarre development
process

As a former military base, SBD had Federal money to convert
it to civilian purposes. In the mid 2000s, the agencies in charge, the SBIAA
(San Bernardino Intl Airport Authority) and the IVDA (Inland Valley Development
Agency), got into bed with a man named Scot Spencer. Scot Spencer is a
convicted felon, who spent years in Federal prison for bankruptcy fraud
connected to the third incarnation of Braniff. The
Federal trial judge not only found him criminal but also incompetent. There’s
more. After serving his time he tried selling charter flights and was lifetime banned
from operating an airline after the US Dept of Transportation determined he was
offering such services without proper authority. For good measure they fined
him $1mm. Articles
paint Spencer as inept and unqualified, but with a serious attraction to aviation.
It’s like an airline nerd went to extreme, even criminal, lengths to get and
stay in aviation rather than cope with their addiction by participating in the
Airliners.net civil aviation forum.

Spencer was the man entrusted by SBIAA/IVDA with developing
a commercial terminal and other facilities at SBD. Why Spencer? Well, the airport
noted that while the DOT banned him from operating an airline, he was not
banned from operating or developing an airport. And Scot promised what others
would not – that such a terminal would land commercial service. And he offered
to do the job cheap. The estimate was $104mm. He offered to do it for $38mm. Of
course, by the time he was done, it actually cost over $100mm, but that was to
come.

Reading reports about the debacle, you get the sense SBD and
Spencer were made for each other. Scot painted a rosy vision of SBD success (almost
a million enplanements by 2009
!) and the SBIAA really wanted to believe. In
return, SBIAA gave Scot what he wanted – a chance to be a commercial aviation
player. Despite no relevant experience, he got to develop a commercial terminal,
with all the trimmings. Over time, the SBIAA gave Spencer the keys to the
kingdom through a series of no-bid contracts to develop an FBO (and sell the
jet fuel at the airport) and even, ultimately, to run the airport. Oversight
was minimal, and serial cost increases covered without pushback.

Ultimately, it all came crashing down. The incongruity of Spencer’s increasing power on top of overspending resulted in a grand jury investigation, out of which came a damning 2011 audit report flaying Spencer and IVDA/SBIAA. Later that year, the FBI raided the airport and Spencer’s home. SBIAA management was changed out, and Spencer was ejected from his roles. In 2013, Scot Spencer was indicted by the Feds for activities at SBD.

The wheels of justice turn slowly but in this case without result. In 2018, Spencer’s charges were almost completely dropped. No one went to jail or was fined or otherwise faced criminal sanction, other than having to endure a long legal process. There’s little question the SBIAA/IVDA was grossly negligent to entrust SBD fortunes to Scot Spencer. But the Feds were unable to prove malice on Spencer’s part, or anyone else. And while the audits showed rampant failure to adhere to best practices on the part of Spencer or the SBIAA/IVDA, turns out that however cavalier they were with public money, it didn’t rise to the level of criminality, at least not within the ability of the Feds to prove. It’s not against the law to be stupid the way they were, though maybe it should be.


Scot Spencer is no longer involved with the airport, but the terminal is still sitting there completely unused. But why? The Cardinal will tackle that tomorrow.

August 13, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Three Themes From American’s 2020 Summer Sched…

Three Themes From American’s 2020 Summer Schedule Announcement:

American has gotten into a new routine of lumping summer schedule changes into one big release to try to garner buzz. This year, it tried to add mystery to the process with this… interesting… tweet.

That is Vasu Raja, American’s Vice President of Planning, and I spoke with him right before the 2020 Transatlantic package was rolled out to get some more color. Overall, the moves highlight how American views its hubs, particularly Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Philadelphia.

Chicago is a Transatlantic Hub, Not a Transpacific One

When American canceled its China flights from Chicago, leaving only a thrice weekly Tokyo flight as its sole Transpacific presence, people wrongly suggested that American was giving up on Chicago. The thing is, American just can’t get Asia to work from there. Those China flights were horrendously unprofitable, and the Tokyo flight probably only remains thanks to the joint venture with Japan Airlines. But while American has given up on Asia, it has not given up on Chicago at all.

Going over the other ocean from Chicago has done quite well for the airline with a very hefty schedule slated for next summer. American is adding all of these with 787-8 aircraft.

  • Chicago to Budapest 4x weekly from May 7 to October 24
  • Chicago to Krakow 5x weekly from May 7 to October 24
  • Chicago to Prague 5x weekly from May 8 to October 24

This really reflects two different things going on. The Budapest and Prague routes are going to be pure leisure. It’s for Americans going over to those hot spots in the summer. American experimented with those last year from Philly, and it worked. Those will remain, so Chicago is just new service.

Isn’t overflying the Philly hub bad? Not in this case. American has found that pairing Chicago and Philly to a destination actually strengthens the route. Consider Prague.

The Philly flight leaves at 6:50pm and gets to Prague at 9:15am. The return is at 11:20am getting back at 3:05pm. Chicago will leave at 6:50pm and get to Prague at 10:50am with a return at 1:05pm back at 4:05pm. This gives travelers around the US more options to work with. If you live in the Midwest, you can leave later and go via Chicago. Or if you’re returning, you can stay in Prague later before coming back home. It also opens up more single-stop opportunities.

Further, Chicago is only 5 days a week, but having Philly operate daily means travelers can mix and match and still get home easily every day of the week. This is what American has seen with other routes, so the pattern continues.

Second, we have Krakow. This is all about visiting friends and relatives. There is a huge ethnic Polish population Chicago. It’s big enough that LOT Polish already flies this route less than daily. American figures it can get a chunk of this traffic for itself.

This isn’t the only growth. American is lengthening the summer season for existing routes as well. Eventually some of those could go year-round. Chicago may not work for the airline over the Pacific, but over the Atlantic, it’s growing and working well.

Philly is for Transatlantic Experiments, But They Don’t All Work

Philadelphia remains a great testing ground for experimental routes. Last year Dubrovnik was a huge success story, and it will go daily next year. Berlin also gets bumped up to daily service. Bologna, on the other hand, was bad. That one isn’t coming back. Of course, if you don’t try a new route like this, you can’t really know if it’ll work regardless of how sophisticated the models are. Philly’s close proximity to a huge population as well as to Europe makes it an easy place to try new things.

Next summer, the big news is that American will start Africa flying with thrice weekly flights to Casablanca from Philly. The flight will operate from June 4 through September 8, so it’s a very short season. Oh, and it’s on a 757. Yep, Casablanca is that close — even closer than Paris.

This route has been rumored for some time, and it’s a great experiment. Royal Air Maroc will be joining oneworld, and while it doesn’t have much in the way of connecting banks into Africa yet, it will. And with a 757, American can pioneer the route with a good chance of finding local traffic going to that hot spot as well as testing the waters with connecting opportunities. This route is a pathfinder, and it’s a low risk one at that.

Similarly, American will move its Keflavik (Iceland) flight from DFW up to Philly. Consider that another experiment.

Almost Anything Works from Dallas/Fort Worth

As American marched toward 900 daily flights at DFW this summer, the mantra was that pretty much anything can work there. They throw in some routes that seem thin, and then they magically do well anyway. It’s the hub that keeps on giving.

There is a limit to this, however, as we’ve seen with American’s decision to move the DFW-Keflavik flight up to Philly. Granted, there were three airlines (American + WOW + Icelandair) in the past and all of them will be gone. DFW might have worked better this year. But what American realized is that much of the demand was in the east, and DFW was a lousy stopping point for that. This year, it expects to do better from Philly gathering all that traffic.

While that route goes away, DFW will be getting an important new flight to Tel Aviv. This marks the airline’s return to Tel Aviv after pulling out from Philly around the time of the US Airways merger. Whatever TWA debts were out there (as the rumor goes) have been settled, and service is ready to start 3 times a week on a 787-9 from next September 9. It’ll be a year-round route.

This seems like a stretch, but for the same reason American moved its Keflavik flight to Philly, it’s starting Tel Aviv from DFW. See, DFW is very well positioned for connecting traffic flows on this route. If you’re thinking about all the possibilities for connections from the western US, that is certainly a part of it since West Coast – Israel flights are few and far between. But don’t forget Latin America. This will be a really easy way for Latin Americans to get to Tel Aviv in a world where not many great options exist.

On top of that, there is a lot of local traffic in the market. I’m told this is the largest route that American hadn’t flown from DFW. If you’re thinking about Jewish traffic, that’s some of it. But it’s really more about Christian travelers. The Metroplex has a whole lot of Christians looking to go to the holy land.

Overall, this paints a picture of a planning team that is following its successes up with new routes that fit the right pattern. But there is also an element of risk in some of these routes that may or may not pay off. That sounds like the kind of place you want to be as an airline. Take a chance and see what works, then keep duplicating as much as you can based upon what rises to the top.

August 12, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Takes Us to Our Real Vacati…

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Takes Us to Our Real Vacation in Lana’i (Trip Report):

Only a few days after arriving in Honolulu, it was time for — as I called it on Twitter — vacation inception. My wife and I left the kids with our friends on O’ahu and we went for a vacation within a vacation: 2 nights on Lana’i. I will be writing up my experience on Lana’i separately, but for now, let’s talk about flights.

Since Lana’i was the only one of the six main Hawaiian islands that I hadn’t visited, it was at the top of my list. (My quick turn to try out ‘Ohana by Hawaiian back in 2014 didn’t count.)

We picked up tickets on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian for $168.16 each roundtrip (or actually, the equivalent in Chase Ultimate Rewards). Then, I was fortunate enough to be offered a deeply-discounted travel agent rate for the Four Seasons Lana’i thanks to Cranky Concierge being a Four Seasons Preferred Partner. We paid an average of only about $200 a night for the room, about $1,000 less than the going rate.

It didn’t take long for us to learn that North Shore traffic (where we are staying on O’ahu) is bad on weekends and weekday afternoons… and kind of all the time. It’s so bad that I kept a close eye on traffic before our morning flight just to make sure it wouldn’t cause us to miss the flight. Fortunately, things were moving fine, and it took us just under an hour to get to the airport. We arrived about an hour before our flight, but then things took a turn for the worse.

Legend has it that there is an economy parking lot that’s $12 a day, but the legend is just a myth. Apparently, there used to be such a lot near the commuter terminal, but that was razed. It wasn’t clear to me, however, so we kept trying to find it. The tangle of congested and poorly-signed roads at the airport can make for a harrowing experience. We went around the airport twice and never found the lot. Instead, running tight on time, we gave up and parked in the Terminal 1 garage. It’s strange, but there is no longer any long-term parking at the airport, and there don’t really appear to be many private options either.

The terminal 1 garage is really just a byzantine set of ramps with parking spaces that are regularly full. It took a long time for us to get up to the top level where we finally scored a spot near the airport conference center. Side note: I learned there’s an airport conference center on top of the parking garage.

By the time we parked, it was only half an hour before our flight, and I was getting a little anxious, not knowing what security would look like. We walked in on the mauka (toward the mountain, north in this case) side of Terminal 1 and there was a tiny Precheck checkpoint that didn’t have a long line. We headed in there, and when the woman with a large family in front of us overheard me say to my wife that we were cutting it close, she kindly asked if we wanted to go ahead of them. We made it through and walked all the way over to the ‘Ohana gate on the other side… only to find that our airplane wasn’t even there.

The monitors said the inbound would arrive late at 10:30am, but it didn’t. It got there maybe about 10 minutes later, and they were slow to unload. A delay never posted for our flight, but we didn’t even start boarding until after the original departure time.

I asked the gate agent if the flight was full, and she shook her head saying it wasn’t. We headed down to the ramp to board the airplane from the outside.


July 22, 2019
‘Ohana by Hawaiian 634 Lv Honolulu 1051a Arr Lana’i 1125a
Honolulu (HNL): Gate B1, Runway 8R, Depart 16m Late
Lana’i (LNY): Gate 3, Runway 3, Arrive 15m Late
N801HC, ATR 42-500, Standard Ohana colors, ~85% Full
Seat 1D, Coach
Flight Time 20m

As soon as we boarded the ramp in the rear of the aircraft, I asked the flight attendant, Darren, if there was still an ‘ukulele onboard. It was on my first ‘Ohana flight years ago that I learned of this unique feature, and it is what started me off playing the instrument myself. Here’s the photo I took on that flight when I had no idea how to play it at all.

As I explained briefly to Darren, I’d love to get it and tune it up… give it some love and play a few songs. But he curtly said it was sealed up and I couldn’t have it. Well, ok then.

We took our seats in the next to last row on the left side, row 12, as they got us ready for departure. The gate agent must have a very strange definition of a “not full” flight, because this one only had a handful of seats open. It was filled with laborers and tourists, all going to the same place for very different reasons.

After the safety demonstration, the flight attendant came back and asked those of us in the last two rows if two of us would move forward for weight and balance. The others back there were workers who wanted to stay as close to the exit as possible so they could get off and go to work. My wife and I didn’t care, so we volunteered. At the front, the little lounge area was empty, so we sat on the window facing each other. I took this photo in the same seat I had taken years ago as I strummed the ‘ukulele. This time, my hands were empty.

We took off to the east as usual, and climbed up through the lowest scattered layer of clouds. It was a cloudy day with poor visibility, so we couldn’t see much at all on the way over. We settled just under the overcast cloud deck in smooth skies for our brief cruise. The flight attendant came through with a choice of water or POG juice, and we took the opportunity to toast our mini-vacation.

Moments later, we were descending. It was so hazy and cloudy that we couldn’t even see Maui on our way in.

We landed and, since we were up front, we were the last ones to get off the airplane. The Four Seasons had a van waiting to take us away for our adventure. As I mentioned before, I’ll have much more on the experience on Lana’i in a separate post.

After two glorious nights away, it was time to come back to O’ahu. As we boarded the van at the hotel, one of the staff members was playing Aloha ‘Oe, Queen Lili’uokalani’s famous song which in English means, Farewell to Thee.

We arrived at the airport an hour before our flight, and that seemed entirely excessive. (You may think my lei and hat are entirely excessive as well, but I wore them with pride and appreciated the hard work that went into making them.)

There is nothing beyond security, so we just sat outside on a bench and enjoyed the afternoon. I checked the local timetable on the wall which was surprisingly kept up to date.

Then I pulled up Flightradar24 to find that our airplane hadn’t yet left Honolulu, so I kept tabs to see when it would get in the air. Only when our inbound plane landed did we opt to head through security.

Lana’i does Precheck light where you still need to pull all your stuff out of your bags. They scrutinized everything VERY carefully, far more carefully than you’d think Lana’i departures would require.

By the time we got through, boarding had just begun.


July 24, 2019
‘Ohana by Hawaiian 655 Lv Lana’i 218p Arr Honolulu 250p
Lana’i (LNY): Gate 3, Runway 21, Depart On Time
Honolulu (HNL): Gate B1, Runway 8L, Arrive 5m Late
N805HC, ATR 42-500, Standard Ohana colors, ~50% Full
Seat 11D, Coach
Flight Time 27m

This time we had seats 11C and D, hoping to have a good view of Moloka’i on our way back.

Our flight attendant was again Darren, just as it was on the way out, so I didn’t bother to ask for the ‘ukulele. I already knew his answer.

We started up right on time and headed to the runway, launching to the south over the water. We climbed to the towering height of 8,000 feet and turned toward O’ahu. But then we made an odd left turn out over the water. The pilots came on and apologized, saying that we would have to vector a bit because another plane coming from West Maui had to land before us. I’m not sure why that was the case, but it meant we zigged and zagged a couple times before resuming our course.

We descended fairly early and leveled off at 1,500 feet before we could even see O’ahu. Just after leveling, air traffic control must have told them to speed up, because the props got loud and we picked up speed. It was loud and downright bouncy at 1,500 feet, and it was only slightly unnerving to see the whitecaps dotting the windswept sea not far below us.

Soon, O’ahu came into view. We came nearly straight in, perpendicular to the reef runway, before hanging a right and planting ourselves down on the ground.

Taxi-in was quick, and we almost would have made it on time had we not had to wait for the West Maui flight to unload at the same gate as us.

August 08, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Join Me As I Fly Around the Hawaiian Islands T…

Join Me As I Fly Around the Hawaiian Islands Today with Hawaiian Airlines:

Remember when I took those 8 flights touching 9 airports all within California? Today, two days shy of the three year anniversary of that adventure, I’m doing it again. You can follow along on Twitter with the #HawaiianFlyin hashtag.

Ok, I’m not REALLY doing it again. Instead I’m taking the concept to another state — one of the only other states where it’s possible to fly a bunch of flights without touching the same airport twice. Since I’m spending a month in Hawai’i, I brainstormed with the Hawaiian Airlines folks to see what we could do for one fun day.

Disclaimer: Hawaiian provided today’s flights for me

After studying the schedules, I proposed the idea of spending the day flying to every 717 station without touching the same airport twice (until the end when I had to get back to Honolulu). They agreed, and so today is the day that I get to experience a whole lot of Douglas metal. Here’s the plan:

This one is very different from when I did the California run. It involves fewer, shorter flights, but I’ve built in longer layovers along the way so that I could learn something unique by meeting with people at each station. This is as much about what happens on the ground as what happens in the air.

If you’d like to follow along, I’ll be tweeting as I go from @crankyflier using the hashtag #HawaiianFlyin. I’m not messing around with livestreams or updating this post before and after each flight. I want to focus on learning at each stop along the way. I will, of course, write this up in much greater detail down the line.

August 07, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Delta and Others Try to Fix Alitalia, But They…

Delta and Others Try to Fix Alitalia, But They’ll Fail:

After years of delays and failures, the Worst Airline Ever, Alitalia, has a shiny new reorganization plan which will thrust it into the pantheon of the world’s great airlines. I almost wrote that without laughing.

Perhaps I’m overstating things. There is no actual “plan,” or at least none that has been released. Instead, what we have is the line-up of entites that are going to put money into the new, new, new Alitalia in exchange for an ownership stake. I’m sure there will eventually be an actual commercial plan to fix the airline, but that won’t matter. As long as the government continues to prop this airline up and avoid a real, full reorganization, it will never succeed.

You’ll recall this latest attempt at reorganizing started after the last effort led by Etihad went south. Etihad’s strategy to invest in failing carriers would have bankrupted any other airline. But when you’re backed by the government, you don’t have that problem. The thing is, even the Abu Dhabi government has its limits. Alitalia was going to get a divorce from Etihad, but it just couldn’t find a way to live on its own without those deep pockets. It needed to find another beau to survive.

The government funded the airline while it worked on finding a good — ok, “somewhat acceptable” should suffice — option. Late last year, the government finally made a move, sort of. Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, the national rail company, was tasked with taking over the airline, but it wouldn’t do it alone. It had to put together a group of investors. This process was delayed time and time again, but we now have a path forward financially.

The biggest partner — reportedly with the same 35 percent stake as Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane — is Atlantia, an Italian firm that primarily builds and operates roads and bridges. Depending upon who you ask, Atlantia doesn’t appear to be particularly good at this. Remember the bridge that collapsed in Genoa killing more than three dozen? That was Atlantia’s.

In fact, Atlantia was in hot water after the bridge collapse, and there was discussion about it losing its rights to continue operating much of its holdings in Italy. CBS News noted:

Premier Giuseppe Conte and key ministers said they are launching the process to revoke the concession, citing inadequate maintenance. Prosecutors are investigating both the maintenance and design of the bridge as a cause of the deadly collapse.

Now, let’s say you’re the government. You have a company that has allegedly run a poor operation and put people in danger with inadequate maintenance. How would you punish the company? Oh right, make it invest in Alitalia. That is punishment, though the optics of having a large equity investment from a company that the government recently accused of performing inadequate maintenance is just…. I suppose I have inadequate words to describe this.

So, you have the state-owned railway leading the charge by presumably pushing Atlantia — which I think we can all agree is far too similar in name to Alitalia — to join the coalition. If it doesn’t, well, who knows what repercussions there might be. The government itself will also maintain a smaller stake on its own. It sounds like we have a new “coalition of the willing” in our midst.

But wait, there’s actually one more investor, and this one participated all on its own accord. Delta — an airline that loves stakes in airlines but usually not ones that are likely to fail — is going to put a little money in.

Before you wonder if Delta has gone completely mad, there is a rationale for this. Alitalia is a part of the Delta/Air France/KLM joint venture today, and Delta likes having the feed in Italy, a big and important market in Europe. So that traffic and relationship is worth something right off the bat. It’s worth even more when you consider that if Delta doesn’t step up, that traffic could align with United or American (or one of their partners) and shift it all away from Delta.

We don’t yet know how much of a stake Delta is taking — unconfirmed reports say 15 percent — nor how much they had to put in to acquire that, but presumably they did the math and assumed it was worth a gamble. Now Delta has to just hope that the investment can be recouped before Alitalia goes bankrupt again.

This is far from a done deal, but the pieces are coming together. Once it’s done, then we will presumably hear more grandiose plans about how Alitalia will turn itself around. At this point, however, the troublesome meddling of the Italian government all but ensures whatever the plan is, it won’t work. As if that’s not bad enough, there’s still Air Italy flooding capacity in the market as well as the low cost carriers from easyJet and Ryanair to Ernest.

Alitalia hasn’t really mattered for a long time. If it disappeared, its capacity would just be replaced by others quickly. But pride is a funny thing, and the Italian government can’t admit defeat. The madness continues.

August 06, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

The End Has Arrived: Delta Will Leave Tokyo/Na…

The End Has Arrived: Delta Will Leave Tokyo/Narita Next Spring:

It sounds cliché, but it’s true. We have reached the end of an era, one that dates back to the spoils of World War II. Assuming the government’s slot awards at Tokyo’s Haneda airport are finalized (there’s no reason to think that won’t happen), Delta will officially pull out of Tokyo/Narita airport entirely next spring. This not only marks the end of Delta’s Tokyo hub, but it also means the end of US airline fifth freedom flying in Japan.

In the wake of World War II, US airlines were tasked with being able to help rebuild air systems in Japan as well as in other losing countries like Germany. Northwest and Pan Am moved in and took advantage of fifth freedom rights — the ability to carry passengers between Japan and countries that weren’t the US. Both airlines built substantial operations. Pan Am’s was sold to United in the 1980s while Northwest’s became a part of Delta when the two airlines merged a decade ago.

These fifth freedom flights in Germany ended years ago as airlines restructured their networks, but in Japan, they soldiered on, largely because of the vast distance across the ocean. The introduction of new widebodies like the 787 helped to increase point-to-point flying over the Pacific. United started adding more flights from San Francisco that bypassed Tokyo, so remaining Narita flights started to wither. In the last couple years, United canceled its last flight beyond Tokyo into Asia.

Delta tried to do the same but its new and growing Seattle hub doesn’t support all the important markets the way that San Francisco does for United. So Tokyo remained an important hub for Delta, despite its declining status since the dawn of this decade. (You can read more about the history of that hub in this look back by Ned Russell at The Points Guy.)

In 2010, the Japanese government opened a limited number of slots for flights from the US into Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Haneda is more convenient for people in Tokyo (not to mention Yokohama) and is the preferred airport for business travelers. Also, as we all know, it lacks one key obstruction that blocks the path between Narita and Tokyo…

Those initial Haneda slots could only operate at night, and there were very few of them, but their mere existence marked the beginning of Narita’s eventual decline. Over time, more slots came available and airlines were allowed to fly during daylight hours. Delta wanted to move its entire hub over to Haneda, but it was never going to get that many slots to actually do so. American and United developed joint ventures with Japan Airlines and ANA respectively, so they were able to use Haneda as a hub thanks to the local airlines having extensive operations there. As a last gasp, Delta tried to take over failing Skymark, but ANA won that battle too.

Knowing that a Narita hub would eventually be unsustainable and a Haneda hub wasn’t achievable, the cuts began. This was accelerated every time new slots became available at Haneda. The fate was sealed when Delta and Korean signed their joint venture, making Seoul/Incheon Delta’s primary Asian focus.

Delta currently has slots to fly from Los Angeles and Minneapolis to Haneda. When the new awards are finalized for next summer, Delta will be able to move Honolulu, Portland, Seattle, Detroit, and Atlanta service over from Narita as well. That would leave two measly flights from Narita to Singapore and Manila. Those are quite obviously not going to work when Delta has no flights from the US to feed them. It was just a matter of when the cuts would come.

It is now official that the flight to Singapore ends September 21. But, surprise!, Manila will still have Delta service. It won’t be operating from Narita or from the US, but instead Delta will take its Manila flight and move it over to Incheon. Why? That’s a great question.

Delta has long had a lot of seats via Tokyo to Manila. That was one of the airline’s last 747 routes before the airplane was retired. It’s generally a low-yield market with a lot of volume. I had assumed a fair bit of that was coming from Japanese travelers, but if Delta thinks it can still support the service out of Incheon, then it must be more US-focused traffic than anything else. (That being said, I confirmed that Delta does have the ability to carry local traffic between Incheon and Manila.)

Korean does have two flights a day in that market, but they don’t match up well with US flight connections. Presumably this Delta flight will be a good third daily option that connects perfectly, but the details haven’t been released.

That flight won’t begin until next spring when the other flights move over to Haneda. When that happens, it will be the end of scheduled US airline passenger service between Japan and a third country.

Though Delta is leaving, not every US airline is following completely. Narita is becoming a more leisure-focused airport which is why United will continue Guam and both United and Hawaiian will still fly to Honolulu. American and United will also keep some service from their hubs, because there aren’t enough slots to move the entire operation to Haneda. That service can continue to be bolstered by the route networks of joint venture partners JAL and ANA anyway.

Is this a sad occasion? Not at all. It may be nostalgic, but everyone should be happier flying into Haneda and connecting via Incheon if they’re Delta loyalists. The only really sad thing about all this is that the conclusion of Delta’s Narita operations probably means my Godzilla map is nearing retirement. It’s been one heck of a run.

August 05, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com