Virgin America launched (29-Jun-2010) flights to its first international destination with services to Canada's Toronto Pearson International Airport from Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport. The carrier also announced its intent to launch flights from SFO to Mexico's San Jose del Cabo (SJD), SFO to Cancun International Airport (CUN) and LAX to CUN this winter - see Route Changes Table for more information. [more]
Virgin America goes international, Mexico next
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United Airlines reduces seasonal capacity in the competitive US-New Zealand/Australia market
After rapid growth in the market between North America and Australia/New Zealand, an airline has finally blinked: United Airlines will change its sole New Zealand service, San Francisco-Auckland, to only operate seasonally. United will rely on its JV partner Air New Zealand.
Auckland is less important for United than for American Airlines and its codeshare (but not JV) partner Qantas. Qantas has exited the Auckland-Los Angeles market, so American's entry to New Zealand gives it two nonstops from both Australia and New Zealand, enhancing presence across the region and making it easier to bring American visitors to both Australia and New Zealand.
United's adjustment to a seasonal service will mean that the New Zealand-North America (excluding Hawaii) market will expand by a reduced 10% instead of 17%. Even with this downward change there will be 17% more capacity than in the previous record year of 2008.
US DOT rejects Qantas-American Airlines joint venture under pressure of unchecked consolidation
After complaints about airlines amassing power through joint ventures to the detriment of consumers, the US DOT appears to be exerting greater and more conservative scrutiny on partnerships. DOT has rejected a proposed JV between American Airlines and Qantas. After DOT declined their request for a much longer response time American and Qantas withdrew their application, submitted in Jun-2015.
At a top level the JV does seem to raise concern: combined, Qantas and American would hold 59% of the US-Australia market. Yet almost all of that – 53% – is from Qantas; American adds only 6ppt.
DOT rejects the notion that such larger market share can possibly be in the interest of consumers. Yet it appears to overlook the benefit American might bring in exchange for incremental market share gains. Nor is it clear if this combination is more anti-competitive than some JVs where two airlines, each with a small- or medium-sized position, combine and become multiples larger. Qantas' 53% market share was earned through quality and smart loyalty programme development while competitors lagged.
Qantas will continue growth in North America, its most successful international market, but American Airlines' growth is uncertain and it may re-evaluate a supposedly planned Los Angeles-Melbourne 787 service.