CATS has an ‘aspirational’ plan for high-frequency buses. Here is a new route map.

March 15, 2018 12:37 PM The Charlotte Area Transit System is making several changes to its bus system Monday to coincide with the opening of the Lynx Blue Line Extension. Diedra Laird [email protected] i By Steve Harrison [email protected] LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story In a bid to win back riders who have left, the Charlotte Area Transit System is redesigning its bus system, by adding more cross-town routes and, if money becomes available, dramatically increasing the number of routes that arrive every 15 minutes or less.The first changes start Monday and are designed to coincide with the opening of the Lynx Blue Line extension. CATS has remade 14 routes, with almost all tying into train stations on the light-rail line. But the transit system’s “aspirational” plan calls for new routes throughout the city, with buses arriving so often that passengers don’t need to check a schedule. CATS chief operating planning officer Larry Kopf said the new route map is aspirational because CATS doesn’t have the money to pay for it. He said it would be a roughly 50 percent increase in the transit system’s operating budget for buses, which was about $100 million in 2016.CATS has designed a new map for the high-frequency service, which resembles the subway map of Washington D.C.’s Metro. It’s part of CATS chief executive John Lewis’s “Envision My Ride” campaign to remake the bus network. It would be the biggest overhaul to the bus system in twenty years.But the plan calls for 16 high-frequency routes along major thoroughfares like Providence Road, Monroe Road, Independence Boulevard, The Plaza and Tyvola. Many of the routes would not feed into the main bus station on Trade Street, but would cut across the city. If implemented, the route map would resemble a grid rather than today’s hub and spoke system.There are four Continue Reading

United Airlines fills out route map with eight new routes

 United Airlines is adding eight new non-stop routes, including some that will give several smaller airports coveted connections to new hubs.The effort is the latest by United to connect the dots between cities already on the its route map. In doing so, the carrier is able to expand its national presence by adding dozens of new connecting options across its network. ALSO NEW: United Airlines will fly to TahitiMonday's announcement follows several similar expansions, including one in November that added 10 new routes and two new destinations.  United’s latest expansion will add new connections from six of its hubs to a total of eight destinations across California, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin.  All eight of the new routes launch in June. (Scroll down for details on all eight routes)BY THE NUMBERS: The fleet and hubs of United Airlines Some will give smaller markets long-sought flights to hubs outside their home regions. That’s beneficial for fliers in those markets because it may open connections that didn’t previously exist. Or the new options may reduce overall travel times to some connecting destinations.Among the notable new connections, the Ohio airports serving Akron-Canton and Dayton will get a non-stop link to United’s busy hub in Houston. In Wisconsin, the capital of Madison gets a non-stop option to the West Coast with flights to United’s hub in San Francisco.  And the cities of Norfolk, Va., and Appleton, Wis., will see easier connections to the West via a non-stop flight to United’s hub in Denver."We are excited to begin the new year by adding eight new flights as we continue our focus on making United the first choice for customers," Jake Cefolia, United's vice president of sales, said in a statement.Scroll down for hub-by-hub details of the new flights: DenverAppleton, Wis.: Year-round service begins June 7. One daily Continue Reading

Spirit Airlines keeps up expansion pace, adds Richmond to route map

 Spirit Airlines is adding Richmond to its route map, tapping the Virginia capital as its second new destination in just a week’s time. Spirit’s Richmond service will begin March 15, when the “ultra low-cost carrier” launches non-stop flights to both Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Spirit will fly one daily round-trip flight on each route using Airbus A320 family of aircraft. Richmond becomes Spirit’s 62nd destination and comes just one week after the airline announced plans to fly from Columbus, Ohio. Spirit’s service from that city will begin in February, when it starts the first of seven routes there. TODAY IN THE SKY: Spirit Airlines: Columbus is next city for expanding budget carrierAs for Richmond, it adds a mid-sized market to Spirit’s network at a time when most of the budget airline’s recent growth had been focused on bigger cities or leisure destinations.From Richmond, Spirit says customers will be able to connect via either Fort Lauderdale or Orlando to 11 other destinations, including New Orleans and Tampa as well international destinations like San Jose, Costa Rica; Managua, Nicaragua; and Panama City, Panama. For now, Spirit’s new routes don’t add any new non-stop destinations to the existing offerings at Richmond International Airport. JetBlue already offers service to both Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. And Allegiant, another ultra low-cost carrier, flies two flights a week from Richmond to Orlando’s secondary Sanford Airport. Still, Richmond expressed hope Spirit could grow if its initial routes prove successful. “I’m sure they’ll be watching this closely,” airport spokesman Troy Bell said to the Richmond Times-Dispatch about how Spirit might monitor its launch there. “We believe they have a good opportunity to grow here. ... If these two routes do well, it makes it that much easier to add Continue Reading

Alaska Airlines adds Pittsburgh to its route map

 Alaska Airlines has announced Pittsburgh as its newest destination. Beginning Sept. 6, Alaska Airlines will begin flying one daily round-trip flight between Pittsburgh and Seattle, its busiest hub. Alaska Airlines will use Boeing 737 jets for the service, which will be the only non-stop flight connecting the cities. "We're pleased to add Pittsburgh to our growing list of destinations from our hometown of Seattle,” John Kirby, VP of capacity planning at Alaska Airlines, says in a statement. “With the addition of Pittsburgh, Alaska flies nonstop to 90 destinations, which is more than twice as many as any other airline.”TODAY IN THE SKY: Pittsburgh to be first airport to allow non-fliers past security since 9/11The new non-stop route to Seattle also continues a recent hot streak for Pittsburgh’s airport, which has seen passenger numbers rise during in recent years. New international flights to destinations like Frankfurt and Reykjavik have been added and a plan was announced just this past September to build a sleek new $1 billion passenger terminal there. Airport officials touted Alaska Airlines’ arrival as the latest positive development there. "Increased service to the West Coast has been a top priority and we are thrilled to add year-round, daily nonstop service to Seattle as part of our growing portfolio,” Christina Cassotis, CEO at the Allegheny County Airport Authority that runs the airport, says in a statement. “Pittsburgh’s burgeoning economy has strong ties throughout the West Coast making Alaska Airlines a natural fit."TODAY IN THE SKY: Pittsburgh's resurgent airport plans sleek new $1 billion terminal  Continue Reading

Allegiant Air breaks into Newark as it adds 3 cities to route map

Budget carrier Allegiant is ready to take on New York City. BOOKMARK: Go directly to the Today in the Sky homepage“We think we provide something really unique. At Newark, we’ll be the first ULCC,” he says, referring to the “ultra low-cost carrier” label for no-frills budget carriers Allegiant, Spirit and Frontier.Newark is one of three new destinations joining Allegiant’s route map as part of a 12-route expansion announced Tuesday. The airline also is expanding to Denver and the U.S. border town of Ogdensburg, N.Y. When service to the new cities begins, Allegiant will fly to 117 destinations – all in the United States. Already, low-cost carrier JetBlue has announced new Newark flights, shifting six existing Florida flights to Newark from New York LaGuardia. That shift allowed JetBlue to add Boston flights from LaGuardia, where more-stringent slot restrictions remain in effect. Even so, it was still a bit of a challenge for Allegiant to worm its way into the lineup at Newark.“Gates are at a premium,” Johnson says, adding that it required careful maneuvering to find space in the flight schedules at the congested airport .“The afternoons and evenings are still very constrained at Newark,” but Allegiant’s “flexible” leisure-focused schedule allowed the carrier to find available time slots, Johnson says.Allegiant will begin service there on Nov. 16, launching nonstop service to Cincinnati and Savannah. Allegiant adds two more routes on Nov. 17 with flights to Asheville, N.C., and Knoxville, Tenn.“We’re just going to have two arrivals and departures per day, and that’s mixed across four markets,”’ Johnson says. “We wanted to make sure we could create a robust schedule ... rather than just trying to do a land grab, which I think is what people have traditionally done in these congested Continue Reading

AA fills in route map with new flights from US Airways hubs

American is beginning to connect the dots in its post-merger route map, announcing five new routes from the hubs that are joining its network from US Airways.From Philadelphia, American merger partner US Airways will add nonstop service to three cities. Flights to Charleston, W. Va., Lexington, Ky., and Memphis will begin June 5.US Airways Express affiliate Air Wisconsin will operate the flights on all Lexington and Memphis routes. The carrier will fly three daily round-trip flights to both Lexington and Memphis on 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jets. To Charleston, US Airways Express affiliate Piedmont will fly one daily round-trip flight (except Saturdays) on 37-seat Bombardier Dash 8 turboprops.ALSO ONLINE: American Airlines moves to US Airways' terminal in Phoenix (Feb. 26, 2014) ELSEWHERE: United Airlines axing its hub in Cleveland (Feb. 2, 2014) ARCHIVES: Already de-hubbed, Memphis hit with more Delta cuts (October 2013) PHOTOS: The new look of American AirlinesJoe Taney, American's VP for Philadelphia operations, says the new routes highlight "American's ongoing commitment to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection."From Charlotte, US Airways will add nonstop service starting July 2 to Oklahoma's two biggest cities: Oklahoma City and Tulsa.US Airways Express affiliate Mesa Airlines will operate the service to Oklahoma City, flying two daily round-trip flights on Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jets. US Airways Express subsidiary PSA Airlines will operate the Tulsa service, flying two daily round-trip flights on Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jets.Charlotte, which had been the biggest hub for US Airways, is now the second-busiest hub in the American network. TWITTER: You can follow me at Continue Reading

American, US Airways add 8 routes as they mesh route maps

American Airlines and merger partner US Airways on Monday announced eight new domestic routes.The new flights will be added at the airlines' hubs at Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia and Phoenix. The routes include service to Bismarck, N.D., a city not currently served by either American or US Airways. The move comes as American and US Airways continue to connect the dots between each other's route maps as part of their merger. PHOTOS: The new look of American Airlines PREVIOUSLY: AA fills in route map with new flights from US Airways hubs (March 12, 2014)"As we work to fully integrate our two networks, we remain committed to expanding our domestic service to better serve our customers in small- and medium-size markets," Chuck Schubert, American's VP of network and schedule planning, says in a statement. "By building our network presence in these regional markets, we are providing more people in more places access to our global network covering more than 330 destinations in more than 50 countries around the world."The new routes will operate from the following cities: Bismarck, N.D. The North Dakota capital will get one daily round-trip flight to both Chicago O'Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth. The flights start Oct. 2 and will be operated by American Eagle on Embraer ERJ 145 regional jets.LOCAL COVERAGE: American Airlines to fly to Bismarck (The Bismarck Tribune) Cleveland Evansville, Ind. Three daily round-trip flights to Charlotte will begin Oct. 2. The flights will be operated by US Airways Express affiliates on Bombardier regional jets. American and its regional affiliates already serve Evansville from Chicago O'Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth. Fort Wayne, Ind. The northern Indiana city will get one daily round-trip flight to Charlotte and two a day to Philadelphia. The flights start Oct. 2 and will be operated by US Airways Express affiliates on Bombardier regional jets. American and its regional affiliates Continue Reading

Frontier struggles to find a route map that works

Where does Frontier Airlines fly? More and more, that may depend on when you ask.The carrier announced this month that it will drop all of its service to Colorado Springs, a destination it was in the midst of building up as new "focus city" just nine months ago.That quick reversal highlights what many industry observers view as an increasingly helter-skelter route planning strategy for Frontier, which faces intense pressure at its main Denver base and is being shopped for a buyer by parent company Republic Airways.As for Frontier's exit from Colorado Springs, the carrier says it will drop its two remaining routes by early April. Los Angeles flights will end March 2 while Frontier's Phoenix service will draw to a close April 7.LOCAL REPORT: Frontier Airlines ending all service to Colorado Springs (The Gazette) ARCHIVES: Can Frontier become an ultra-low-cost airline worth buying? (March 2012) ARCHIVES: Frontier Airlines to outsource about 700 jobs (Feb. 6, 2013)In January, Frontier had announced plans to end Colorado Springs service to three other destinations — San Diego (ends Feb. 21), Orlando (Feb. 25) and Denver (March 2), according to The Gazette of Colorado Springs.At the time, Frontier said it intended to keep both the L.A. and Phoenix routes. Now, however, the airline has reversed course on those as well.Frontier spokeswoman Kate O'Malley tells the Gazette that the carrier's advance bookings to Los Angeles and Phoenix had deteriorated after Frontier announced it was axing its other Colorado Springs routes."(We) were left with no responsible choice but to terminate the service," O'Malley says about the decision to add L.A. and Phoenix to Frontier's Colorado Springs chopping block.With that, Frontier's experiment to create a Colorado Springs focus city is kaput, leaving the carrier to focus on its main hub in Denver and its two remaining focus-city experiments in Trenton, N.J., and Orlando.RELATED: Frontier expands service in New Jersey with Trenton Continue Reading

With a focus on Chicago, Frontier fills in its route map

Frontier Airlines is filling in the dots on its route map, announcing three new nonstop routes that connect current destinations.The carrier's new routes:- Chicago O'Hare-Denver: Five weekly flights (every day except Thursday and Saturday) begin Oct. 1 on Airbus A320 jets.- Chicago O'Hare-Atlanta: Four weekly flights (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday) begin Oct. 2 on Airbus A320 jets.- St. Louis-Fort Myers, Fla.: Two weekly flights (Monday and Friday) begin Oct. 3 on Airbus A319 jets. TODAY IN THE SKY: Frontier tabs Washington Dulles for massive expansion USA TODAY: Frontier pilot buys pizza for stranded passengers TODAY IN THE SKY: Frontier adds more routes, keeps growing in ClevelandOnce the new routes begin, Frontier says it will serve 72 destinations nonstop from its main hub at Denver International Airport.Elsewhere, the new routes will give Frontier 10 nonstop destinations from St. Louis, nine from Chicago O'Hare and five from Fort Myers' Southwest Florida International Airport. Those counts include seasonal routes and those that Frontier flies in partnership with Apple Vacations.Frontier's expansion at Chicago O'Hare is particularly interesting, given that the carrier already has five domestic routes from nearby Chicago Midway.Frontier's current O'Hare service consists of several routes to the Caribbean. Those flights are offered in conjunction with Apple Vacations, though Frontier also sells stand-alone itineraries on those routes via its website. But in August, Frontier will start domestic service from O'Hare with flights to Washington Dulles. A route to Cleveland will be next followed by the October launches to Atlanta and Denver.Tyri Squyres, Frontier's VP – Marketing, tells The Denver Post that Frontier sees room to operate out of both Chicago airports."Since 2012, we have supported an Apple Vacations charter program out of O'Hare," Squyres says to the Post. "So this is a cost-effective avenue for Frontier to bring a few new Continue Reading

United Airlines adds Chile to its route map

United Airlines will add Chile to its international route map this winter, saying it plans to begin nonstop service between Houston Bush Intercontinental and the Chilean capital of Santiago.Daily nonstop service would begin Dec. 7, pending regulatory approval. United will use 214-seat Boeing 767-300 jets on the route. The aircraft are configured with 30 flat-bed seats in United BusinessFirst and 184 seats in United Economy, including 49 extra-legroom United Economy Plus seats.TODAY IN THE SKY: United is first to fly to Heathrow's new Terminal 2 (photos)United says the new Houston-Santiago flights are timed to provide connections from Houston to 111 U.S. destinations in the USA and abroad."With our first-ever service between Houston and Santiago, Chile, we are expanding our already substantial presence in Latin America," Alex Savic, United's managing director of Latin American sales, says in a statement. "These flights will provide our customers fast, easy connections between our Houston hub and destinations throughout the U.S. and around the world."United also said it would launch additional routes to Belize and the Dominican Republic.To Belize, United plans seasonal service from Chicago O'Hare to Belize City that would begin Dec. 20 and run through early May. Pending government approval, United plans Saturday-only service. United already flies to Belize from Houston and Newark Liberty.To the Dominican Republic, United plans year-round service from Houston Bush Intercontinental to Punta Cana. The Saturday-only service would start Dec. 20 and be augmented with Sunday flights "for periods of expected higher demand." United already flies to Punta Cana from Chicago O'Hare, Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles. TWITTER: You can follow me at Continue Reading