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Southwest Airlines Increases Boeing 737 MAX 7 Order By 34

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According to a regulatory filing issued earlier today, Southwest Airlines has increased its Boeing 737 MAX 7 order by 34 aircraft. The updated order means that the US carrier is now expecting to take 234 of the smallest MAX variant over the coming years.

Southwest, Boeing, 737 MAX 7
Southwest Airlines has increased its frim Boeing 737 MAX 7 order by 34 aircraft. Photo: Boeing

The Boeing 737 is the backbone of the Southwest Airlines fleet. As the older members of the fleet begin to be retired, the airline is replacing them with the latest generation, the MAX. With its order, Southwest remains a crucial customer for Boeing. The low-cost carrier is both the largest operator of MAX aircraft and the customer in terms of orders.

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More baby MAXs

Southwest has increased its 737 MAX order even further by exercising some of its options. Before today, the airline had 350 firm orders. 150 were for the MAX 8, and 200 for the smaller MAX 7. Today, the airline increased its order for the baby MAX 7 by 17%.

In an 8K filing issued today, southwest airlines revealed that it had reached an agreement to convert 34 options to orders. Two of these MAX 7 jets are from options listed for 2022, while the remainder comes from later years. Despite this, all 34 added today are expected to be delivered next year.

Southwest, Boeing, 737 MAX 7
Boeing has yet to start deliveries of the smallest MAX family member. Photo: Boeing

Including firm orders and options, the Southwest 737 MAX order book now includes 660 aircraft. 40 of its options are for 2022, and the airline is currently evaluating these options.  Southwest Airlines expects to spend $1.5 billion on new aircraft next year.

As well as exceeding options, Southwest Airlines has also brought the date of remaining options forwards. Interestingly, the number of options has only dropped by two, meaning that Southwest has replaced 32 options that it has now exercised with even more options. The change in options each year is as follows,

Year Old Options New Options
2022 42 40
2023 38 70
2024 40 56
2025 40 56
2026 40 40
2027 30 6
2028 30 0
2029 10 0
Total 270 269

Only MAX 7 deliveries soon

So far, Boeing is yet to deliver the first 737 MAX 7. Without further changes to the airline’s 268 outstanding options, Southwest expects an influx of MAX 7 aircraft in 2022. The airline has eight more firm orders for MAX 8 aircraft due to be delivered this year.

Southwest, Boeing, 737 MAX 7
Southwest Airlines is already the largest 737 MAX operator. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

In 2022, the airline is only expecting MAX 7 deliveries, with 64 projected for the year. From 2023 to 2028, 30 deliveries are expected each year. These will only be for the smallest of the MAX family until 2026, when they become split 50/50 with the MAX 8 once more. The new delivery schedule is as follows,

Year MAX 7 Deliveries MAX 8 Deliveries
2022 64 0
2023 30 0
2024 30 0
2025 30 0
2026 15 15
2027 15 15
2028 15 15
2029 20 30
2030 15 45
2031 0 10
Total 234 130

Of course, when one door opens, another one closes. The delivery of shiny new MAX aircraft will mean that older aircraft are retired. Over the next 10 to 15 years, the airline will retire 30-35 Boeing 737-700 aircraft each year.

The order will come as good news for both Boeing and the industry. For Boeing, it shows that its most significant 737 customer is still committed to the product despite recent hiccups with the jet. Meanwhile, for the industry, it indicates that Southwest believes the strong aviation recovery will continue. The TSA recently posted another post-COVID traffic record. With the bulk of its operations being domestic, international travel restrictions don’t affect Southwest as much as other carriers.

Are you excited to see the Southwest Airlines 737 MAX order increased? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/southwest-airlines-737-max-7-order/

Aviation

Inside One Of The Most Interesting Alaska Airlines Routes

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Alaska Airlines has a slew of very interesting routes. However, one of the most interesting routes in the airline’s network will launch later this year. Flying nonstop between Palm Springs and Austin starting on November 19th, this route is gearing up to be one of the most interesting, if not the most interesting, routes in Alaska’s network. Here’s what Brett Catlin, vice president of network and alliances at Alaska Airlines, said to Simple Flying about the route in an exclusive interview.

Alaska Getty
Alaska will launch several new routes this year, and Palm Springs to Austin is gearing up to be one of the most interesting. Photo: Getty Images

Alaska’s Palm Springs to Austin route

First, it is important to recognize details about the route itself. Starting November 19th and running through April 18th, Alaska Airlines will connect Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) with Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) with five weekly flights using an Embraer E175.

The flight is scheduled to run on a leisure schedule. Departing AUS at 09:00 and arriving in PSP at 10:35, the airline’s schedule will allow leisure travelers the opportunity to have almost an entire day in the city. The return flight leaves PSP at 11:05 and arrives in Austin at 16:10, allowing travelers to get home in time for dinner and to prepare for going back to work or school the next day. All times are local.

Alaska Embraer
It should come as no surprise that Alaska Airlines is using one of its most flexible aircraft on the route. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

In addition, the Embraer E175 operating the route will offer different experiences onboard. There are 12 first class seats outfitted in a comfortable 1-2 configuration. This is followed by 12 extra-legroom economy seats and 52 standard economy seats. Seating 76 passengers, this jet is perfect for trying new, thinner routes.

Testing two different strategies

According to Mr. Catlin, the route is all about testing two of Alaska’s most important strategies. As he stated in the interview on the two strategies:

“The first [strategy] is we have got ten spokes on the West Coast where we’re building from a position of strength. We’ve long been the largest carrier in Palm Springs. It’s a market that we have a lot of interest in where we’ve built up strong community support over the years. So we’ve been keen to grow Palm Springs. You saw us add markets like Boise and Reno last year. So, Austin was a natural extension of that. Strategy number two was better connecting our points of strength to big American hubs and focus cities. We have this great crucible of demand in Palm Springs, and then American brings a strong demand for Austin. With those two forces at play, we think this is a market that can be really successful. Also when you layer on some demographic trends: this movement of people to Austin, its emergence as a major tech hub, a lot of folks in San Francisco, they love to visit Palm Springs, so we think those transplants in Austin, are going to love to visit Palm Springs.”

American Alaska Getty
The American and Alaska partnership is one of the strongest in the US. Photo: Getty Images

The first strength is a long-held, core Alaska Airlines strength. The airline’s exposure in California is incredible, and the airline only plans to keep growing. As the only airline based on the West Coast, its natural route network bias is toward connecting those points to new destinations and eliminating the need for connections, even in its own network where it already relies on strong origin and destination traffic.

The second strength is relatively new to Alaska Airlines. The alliance with American Airlines was announced in early 2020, and it has held even through the crisis. For Alaska Airlines, the partnership does not necessarily impede the airline’s ability to grow. Instead, it now has new points and destinations it can add because of that partnership.

If you look at Palm Springs to Austin, this route would probably not have been on anyone’s radar for a 2021 start. With American Airlines building out in Austin and Alaska being able to market those flights to Austin-area travelers who may be loyal to American or tend to book with American because of its growing nonstop portfolio out of Austin, this makes the market case for the route so much better.

Alaska Airlines
California is one of Alaska’s most important markets. Photo: Getty Images

This route may be here to stay

As always, there is an inherent risk with adding a new route. Even some of the best network planners do not get it right 100% of the time, and demand trends can shift. For example, airlines have been adding a host of flights to Bozeman (BZN) in Montana, and the city only keeps growing new air services, though if loads stay stubbornly low in the 60-70% range, then airlines will need to go back, cut some services, and fix their offerings.

When asked about concerns relating to loads in Palm Springs compared to the situation in Bozeman, Mr. Catlin saw the two markets as structurally different, and he is not terribly concerned about the route needing to go away:

“I would say Palm Springs’ load factors are strong. It’s actually a different dynamic where it used to be very seasonal where huge demand in the winter would taper off in the summer. What we’ve seen is actually it’s become more of a year round market. So people that maybe would spend time in the winter, they bought a house there now, and they want to visit in the summer, even when temperatures are over 100 degrees. And so we’re actually thinking about in Palm Springs how do we build it into more of a year round destination, whereas our focus before was always in that winter peak.”

PSP Airport
Palm Springs International Airport has been one of the pandemic-era winners with new air services. Photo: Getty Images

Palm Springs is also a different kind of destination, as he explained, putting it in contrast to Bozeman:

“Palm Springs is a market where it’s less about getting a rental car and going to see the sights. It’s more about being part of the community and the great festivals that exist and all the aspects within kind of Palm Springs proper, whereas Bozeman is all about getting to Yellowstone, the National Parks the outdoors. They’re they’re two very different markets in that regard.”

In general, destinations that are more about culture and are in warmer climates tend to have better year-round demand than nature-themed and outdoor-oriented markets. Think cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas that offer easy access to outdoor destinations while also offering plenty of things to do indoors, such as shows or casinos. Palm Springs, though certainly not as large as those markets, fits into a similar bucket.

Of course, time will tell if this route works. The airline is using the perfect plane to make the route a success and, if it is as successful as it could be, the route could easily convert to year-round service or see an upgauge in the peak season to larger aircraft like the Boeing 737.

Will you be flying Alaska Airlines between Palm Springs and Austin? Let us know in the comments!

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/inside-alaska-airlines-palm-springs/

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British Airways Considers Dropping Gatwick To Preserve Heathrow

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Reports have emerged that UK flag carrier British Airways may be planning to abandon its operations out of London Gatwick. The motivation for this prospect is reportedly to consolidate its operations at its Heathrow hub, ahead of the present coronavirus-induced slot waivers potentially coming to an end next year. The airline has already temporarily suspended its flights from London’s second airport multiple times since the pandemic began.

British Airways, Willie Walsh, Check-in Chaos
Some of BA’s Gatwick flights are seasonal, and rely on leisure traffic. Of course, this sector has been decimated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Shutting up shop?

According to reports in The Telegraph and Head For Points, British Airways is considering axing its Gatwick-based operations to preserve those at Heathrow. London’s second airport has been one of the pandemic’s most significant casualties in terms of lost passenger traffic, with the figure for the first week of June this year a staggering 92% lower than in 2019.

Ceasing its Gatwick operations would allow BA to consolidate flights through its Heathrow hub. This would be a good way of ensuring that it can fill all of its slots, should the present pandemic-induced waiver on slot usage come to an end.

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London Gatwick
Gatwick’s traffic is presently down by more than 90%. Photo: Andre Wadman via Wikimedia Commons

If not, the airline would run the risk of being penalized for not using its allocated slots. The waiver that is currently in place prevents this, as demand remains too low for airlines to operate full schedules and fill their allocated slots. BA is part of the International Airlines Group (IAG), whose CEO Luis Gallego reportedly stated last month that:

“Gatwick is an important decision that we need to take as a group. It’s true that we have the issue with the slots. [It] has some strategic value, but we need to be competitive there. This crisis is going to change the profile of the demand. So we are analyzing the different options.”

Where does BA fly from Gatwick?

While Heathrow is British Airways’ main hub, Gatwick plays an important role in its network by making the carrier’s flights more accessible to passengers in England’s southeast. It serves short and long-haul destinations from the airport, many of which have a leisure focus.

British Airways Boeing 777-236(ER) G-VIIB
BA will continue to operate long-haul flights from Gatwick. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

With this emphasis on leisure, some of the routes served are only done so on a seasonal basis. Examples of summer seasonal destinations include the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes. Meanwhile, flights to Grenoble and Innsbruck are well suited to winter ski holidays. In any case, a British Airways spokesperson confirmed to Simple Flying that:

Until the end of October, most of our short-haul flights will continue to operate from Heathrow. This enables us to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted, and efficient operation across our business at a time when demand is yet to return and international travel restrictions remain in place. We’re still flying some of our long-haul flights from Gatwick.”

British Airways Airbus A320 Innsbruck
A British Airways Airbus A320 in Innsbruck, Austria. This service is one of several seasonal routes that BA operates from London Gatwick in the winter. Photo: Rob Hodgkins via Flickr

Multiple temporary suspensions already

BA’s Gatwick operations have been the subject of continued uncertainty since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the airport has been hit so hard that, on multiple occasions, the airline has temporarily suspended its flights from the airport. Following a suspension on March 31st last year, there were even fears that BA may not return.

However, it eventually resumed its operations there that July. Meanwhile, it initiated a second temporary suspension last November, after a ban on non-essential travel came back into place. Overall, it will be interesting to see what sort of a role Gatwick ends up playing in BA’s future network plans, particularly when the existing slot waivers run out.

What do you make of BA’s rumoured plans to axe its Gatwick services? Have you flown with the airline from London’s second airport in the past? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/british-airways-considers-dropping-gatwick/

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Kenya Airways To Resume London Flights On Saturday

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Nairobi-based Kenya Airways has said that it will resume flights from Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) to London Heathrow (LHR) starting Saturday, June 26, 2021. All flights between Kenya and the United Kingdom ceased on April 9, 2021, after the UK government added Kenya to its “red list” of countries.

Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Kenya Airways will resume flight to London next Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

Based on the COVID-19 infection rate, counties are listed as either green (no restrictions), amber (some restrictions), or red (mandatory ten-day quarantine). People returning to the UK from red countries must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for a minimum of ten days at their own expense. The price for the hotel stay is £1,750 ($2,417), per adult and while there, they must take two COVID-19 PCR tests that prove negative.

The Kenyan government retaliated

Following the news that Kenya was being added to the UK red list, the Kenyan government retaliated by banning flights to the East African nation from the UK. By doing this, the Kenyan government effectively put another nail in Kenya Airways’ coffin on the back of a yearly $330 million loss. 

In early June, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) extended the ban for a second time to August 24, 2021. Now fearing that its essential summer tourism season would be affected, the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday that flights between Kenya and the UK had the go-ahead to resume.

The high season for tourists visiting Kenya comes during the dry period between July and September. It is when the world-renowned migration of wildebeest and zebra through Maasai Mara Game Reserve takes place.

Kenya airways
The main tourism season is between July and September. Photo: Getty Images

Kenya needs tourism

Kenyan business news website Business Daily quotes a letter from the Ministry to the British High Commission which says:

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya presents its compliments to the British High Commission and has the honor to convey the decision … to lift all flight restrictions between Kenya and the United Kingdon.”

“All passengers irrespective of nationality and residency status coming to Kenya from the United Kingdom, irrespective of their route of travel to Kenya, shall be required to self-isolate upon arrival and take a subsequent test for four days after arrival,” the letter added.

In response to the good news, the website allAfricka quotes Kenya Airways acting Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Julius Thairu of saying the following:

“The resumption of flights to London, United Kingdom (UK) is in line with our plans to grow and expand our routes as restrictions lift which will positively impact the flow of trade and tourism across the region by offering our customers convenient travel across the world. This route offers our customers convenient connections to key destinations. We remain fully committed to offering our customers an onboard travel experience that has their health and safety in mind.”

To coincide with the resumption of flights between Nairobi and London, both counties have issued health protocols that arriving passengers must adhere to.

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Kenya is still on the red list

United Kingdom Rules:

Passengers traveling to the UK from Kenya must be either UK national, Irish nationals or have a right of residence in the UK. They will also need to provide a negative COVID-19 certificate three days before travel, book a government-approved quarantine hotel within 14-days before arrival and take two COVID-19 tests if they have been in a red list country or territory ten days before arriving in the UK.

Kenya Rules:

Passengers arriving in Kenya from the United Kingdom must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate conducted within 96 hours before arrival. This rule does not apply to children under five years old. Once in Kenya, they must self-isolate for seven days and take a second COVID-19 PCR test four days after arrival.

Embraer 190
Kenya Airways is still on the UK’s red list. Photo: Getty Images.

While it is nice to see Kenya Airways Nairobi to London flights return, it is hard to imagine that they will be busy since Kenya remains on the UK’s red list.

What do you think about Kenya Airways returning to London, and do you think they can be profitable even if they mostly carry cargo? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/kenya-airways-london/

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The IATA Travel Pass – What You Need To Know

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Looking to fly international in 2021? You might be asked to download and use IATA’s new Travel Pass app. The app is aiming to become the go-to digital health passport, containing all your vaccination, testing, and travel requirements. Here’s a guide to the upcoming Travel Pass and its features.

Plane committed to takeoff V1 speed
As travel reopens, navigating complex health restrictions can be taxing for travelers and airlines alike. Photo: Getty Images

Complex

Traveling internationally in 2021 is not easy by any means. Even if countries open their borders, the health requirements can prove to be quite a maze. From vaccinations to testing to health declarations, it’s easy to miss out on things. However, IATA Travel Pass is here to alleviate most of these troubles.

IATA is also the creator of Timatic, a software that provides airlines with up-to-date health requirements for each country. The Travel Pass app will allow travelers to view their destination’s health checks and quickly begin fulfilling them by offer nearby verified testing centers and more.

ATA Travel Pass
By linking your passport to all health records, the app will prevent fraudulent test results or vaccine certification. Photo: IATA

The app, which is currently under testing with dozens of airlines globally, will also allow travelers to upload all their data onto the secure app. This includes a copy of your physical passport, which will be used to link vaccination records and test results. This allows labs to directly send results to the Travel Pass, preventing any false reports.

At the airport

Once you’ve uploaded your passport, taken a test at a verified test location (or proved vaccination), and got your results, you’re all set to go! A green tick on Travel Pass allows airlines to quickly verify your health details and proceed to check you in for flights.

This means no more long wait times as agents try to navigate individual country restrictions or test results. Airports like London Heathrow have seen hours-long queues as staff try to deal with multiple new steps before flying. Travel Pass can take over all over this work, pre-verifying you for your journey and details.

IATA Travel Pass
A green tick of the Travel Pass may allow you to pass through airport check-in and immigration upon arrival. Photo: IATA

However, IATA is not stopping at airlines alone. The industry leader is partnering with governments to make immigration easier too. Panama has become the first country to accept IATA’s Travel Pass as proof to enter the country and could be the first of many. This means no more long border checks with passenger locator forms and negative tests.

In trial

Currently, the IATA Travel Pass is only open for airline trials. If you’re flying with one of the dozens of airlines using the app, including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, LATAM, and many others, you will receive a code from the carrier first.

However, the wider rollout of the Travel Pass could be only weeks away, according to IATA Director General Willie Walsh. Once it is available, expect to see airlines quickly begin to use the app as passengers begin to navigate the new normal of international travel.

What do you think about IATA’s Travel Pass initiative? Let us know in the comments!

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/iata-travel-pass-guide/

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