Airlines constantly tweak their schedules, trying to find profitable new routes or pulling the plug on ones that have underperformed. Airports and communities court these new services.
There are dozens of changes to airline routes each month. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting:
Allegiant to Alaska (and more)
Allegiant Air will begin flying to Alaska for the first time, adding flights to Anchorage as part of a broader 16-route expansion.
Allegiant’s Anchorage flights will begin May 22, when the ultra-low-cost carrier launches seasonal nonstop service from Bellingham, Washington.
“Alaska is huge news for us,” Drew Wells, Allegiant vice president of planning and revenue, says to USA TODAY. “We’re excited to launch service into any new city, but I think Alaska has a different level of excitement.”
TODAY IN THE SKY: Allegiant: 16 new routes include first-ever Alaska flights
Elsewhere, Allegiant’s 15 other new routes continue a trend in which it has diversified its network. Allegiant has long run a business model focused on offering nonstop flights to high-demand leisure destinations in Las Vegas, Florida and California. But the airline has increasingly been developing bases like New Orleans; Nashville, Tennessee; and Austin, Texas.
Allegiant’s latest expansion included some of those newer bases, including four new routes to Savannah, Georgia, and two to Norfolk, Virginia.
“This is a really kind of a gateway into Virginia Beach and maybe into the northern parts of the Outer Banks,” Wells said about Norfolk. “We like this as a secondary destination.”
Also getting two new routes: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Allegiant will fly nonstop to 22 destinations once the new flights begin.
USA TODAY TRAVEL: Flying Spirit, Frontier or Allegiant? Here are 12 things you need to know
Perhaps the most interesting new route announced by Allegiant: Nonstop service between Denver and Knoxville, Tennessee. The route will be Allegiant’s second to connect Denver with an airport in the Great Smoky Mountains.
“Last year we launched Denver-Asheville (North Carolina), and we were really pleased the performance,” Wells said.
Spirit sets sights on Raleigh/Durham
Fast-growing Spirit Airlines is making Raleigh/Durham its newest destination, launching seven routes from the North Carolina airport on May 2.
Raleigh/Durham becomes Spirit’s third destination in North Carolina, joining Asheville and Greensboro. It’s also part of an ongoing rapid nationwide expansion by Spirit, which also has already announced plans to add Austin and Indianapolis to its network in 2019. Flights from Jacksonville, Florida, began in December.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Spirit Airlines targets Raleigh/Durham for big expansion, adds 7 routes
Spirit’s new routes from Raleigh/Durham will be: Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Detroit, New Orleans and the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
Shrinking WOW Air goes ‘back to basics’
WOW Air will shrink its number of U.S. destinations to just four this summer as it seeks to return to stable financial footing.
By summer, WOW’s only gateways in the United States will be Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Boston, Detroit and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty airport. It marks a retrenchment for the Icelandic budget carrier, which flew to more than a dozen U.S. cities as recently mid-2018.
“We are getting back to our roots, getting back to the basics,” WOW Air founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen said in an interview to USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky blog.
IN PICTURES: 30 cool aviation photos (story continues below)
Sun Country’s ‘largest network expansion’ ever
Sun Country unveiled 19 new routes and seven new airports in what the budget carrier is called the “largest network expansion” in its history.
The new services come as the company rolled out its summer schedule, shifting planes onto summer-oriented routes as it winds down seasonal service to winter destinations.
The schedule includes eight new routes from Minneapolis/St. Paul, home to Sun County’s biggest base and headquarters. There are also multiple new routes from Dallas/Fort Worth; Las Vegas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Portland, Oregon.
The new dots being added to Sun Country’s route map are Chicago O’Hare; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Sacramento, California; San Antonio; Providence, Rhode Island; and Washington Dulles. Sun Country has served some of those destinations previously, including Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Sun Country adds 19 routes, 7 cities in its largest expansion ever
All of the routes are seasonal.
Frontier Airlines unveils 28 summertime routes
Frontier Airlines has announced a total of 28 routes it plans to add across its bases in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina; Denver; Las Vegas; Philadelphia; Chicago O’Hare and Orlando, Florida. The additions – all seasonal – also add four new cities to Frontier’s route map: Billings, Montana; Boston; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Mobile, Alabama.
Noteworthy among the additions is that Frontier will fly not from Mobile’s main passenger airport, but rather from the Downtown Mobile Airport close to the city center. Frontier would be the only commercial airline there once its flights to Chicago O’Hare and Denver begin May 1.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Frontier Airlines reveals 22 nonstop routes this week
Delta eyes Carolinas for growth
Delta is turning to South Carolina for its newest destination and to North Carolina for an expansion at one of its fastest-growing bases.
Hilton Head, South Carolina, will join Delta’s route map on May 23, when the golf and beach resort becomes the 330th destination served by Delta and its Delta Connection partners.
Delta Connection partner Republic Airlines will fly three daily round-trip flights to Delta’s hub in Atlanta with 69-seat Embraer E170 jets. Delta also will offer seasonal, Saturday-only service between Hilton Head and New York LaGuardia. That service will begin June 8 and also will be on Embraer E170s operated by Republic.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Delta Air Lines: Raleigh/Durham ‘focus city’ now at 29 nonstop destinations
In North Carolina, new flights from Raleigh/Durham to Pittsburgh and New Orleans will give Delta a total of 29 nonstop destinations from the airport, which has become a “focus city” for the carrier.
Delta’s Pittsburgh and New Orleans routes begin June 8 and will be operated by Delta Connection partner Endeavor Air on 76-seat Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jets. The Pittsburgh flights will be daily, with one daily round trip. The New Orleans flights will operate only on Saturdays and Sundays.
Another new option on Delta from Raleigh/Durham will be Chicago O’Hare. That route, previously announced, begins April 1 and will feature a schedule of three daily round-trip flights.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Delta Air Lines’ newest destination: Hilton Head, South Carolina
IN PICTURES: 33 cool aviation photos