Southwest Airlines reportedly plans to begin operating international services from US' Baltimore/Washington International Airport as early as 2015 according to CEO Gary Kelly (eturbonews.com/baltimoresun.com, 09-Jun-2013). Mr Kelly said, “International is going to grow at BWI, and it's going to grow with Southwest. By 2015, Southwest Airlines [is] going to be very aggressive in that area, and we are working with them on how we meet that demand." As previously reported by CAPA, Southwest invested in a USD156 million terminal expansion at Houston Hobby Airport following the city’s approval to allow international services from the airport.
Southwest to operate international services from Baltimore/Washington by 2015
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Iberia: capacity stabilises. IAG focuses growth on Level, its new long haul LCC
Iberia's 'Plan de Futuro' restructuring restored its profitability in 2014 and it achieved its third straight positive operating result in 2016. Its owner, IAG, rewarded it with a return to capacity growth after years of cuts and new aircraft orders. Iberia's improved returns, and a drop in performance by sister airline Vueling, lifted it from the bottom of the IAG pack in 2016.
Nevertheless, Iberia is still not earning its cost of capital and is some way short of IAG's even higher target return. Iberia's capacity growth is slowing, as it concentrates more on load factor gains in a market characterised by overcapacity. Seat numbers are levelling off in its key long haul market of Latin America, although there is some growth in North America and the 2016 launches of Shanghai and Tokyo routes will feed through to growth in NE Asia this year. In Europe, Iberia is also maintaining flat capacity in the face of rapid LCC expansion.
The second phase of 'Plan de Futuro' targets further margin expansion, but Iberia may have a bigger challenge taking the next step upwards than it did to restore profits. Meanwhile, IAG's growth focus has shifted to its new long haul low cost operator Level.
"Level": IAG's new long haul low cost brand to launch 4 routes from Barcelona, with more to come
On 17-Mar-2017, IAG announced the launch of its newest airline brand, 'Level', which it will use to operate the group's first long haul low cost flights from Jun-2017. The launch routes will be from Barcelona to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. It will compete head to head with Norwegian on the Los Angeles and Oakland routes.
In Dec-2016, IAG had said that it had not yet decided whether to create a new brand or to operate its planned Barcelona long haul low cost routes under one of its existing brands British Airways, Iberia or even Aer Lingus. Vueling was ruled out, although its strength at Barcelona will provide connecting feed. IAG's solution is to create Level, a new airline brand, but to operate it initially with Iberia pilots and cabin crew.
IAG has also confirmed that Level will deploy two new 314 seat Airbus A330-200s (293 economy and 21 premium economy) and will create up to 250 jobs based in Barcelona. Level, IAG's first entirely new airline brand, will also look to expand to add flights from other European cities.