Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bye-bye birdie?

Thai Airways has a limited presence at LAX, namely four weekly B777 flights to Seoul, South Korea. Formerly, there had been a non-stop flight to Bangkok in an A340-500, which at the time was one of the longest scheduled airline flights in the world: Sixteen to eighteen hours in the air. That flight was discontinued in 2012, and marked the departure of half of the A340-500 operations* at LAX. The replacement flight to Seoul does continue on to Bangkok, and has recently been upgraded from a B777-200ER to a B777-300ER. There has been talk of Thai bringing an A380 to LAX, but so far all I've heard is talk.

Something that has not been a regular sight at LAX is a B744 in Thai colors. We had one pass through a couple of weeks ago, though -- on its way to Mohave. Mohave is one of the places where airliners get parked; Victorville, California, is another. There are also several locations in Arizona where airlines and leasing companies store aircraft. Is this aircraft going into storage? I don't know; there's not much information on the web about Thai retiring its B744s, although some other types are known to be on the way out and many other airlines are parking their B747-400s. Since most of the airports that host parked airliners also offer heavy maintenance facilities, it could be that this airplane will return to the skies in the not-too-distant future.

* - The other A345 user at LAX was Singapore, who flew theirs non-stop to Singapore, a similarly long (16-17 hours) flight that has since been discontinued in favor of a flight to Tokyo that then continues on to Singapore. We no longer see A345s on a regular basis at LAX; both Singapore and Thai have dropped the type from their fleets. Etihad brought one in during their first weeks of operation here earlier this summer, but they now use B777s.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where are they now?

Last month, a regular visitor to ye olde blog left a comment asking about the still-born series (Who's who: ) that looked at the airlines at each of LAX's terminals. The answer is that I had the poor sense of timing to attempt such a series just as LAX started playing a game of musical terminal assignments. Case in point: US Airways. At the outset of the series, back in February, US Airways flew out of Terminal One. Within a month, they had relocated to Terminal Three. Now, after spending less than a year there, US Airways has relocated again, this time to Terminal Six. This move puts US Airways on the same side of the terminal complex as merger partner American, who operates out of Terminal Four. US Airways moved into four gates United relinquished; these were gates that United had acquired with the merger with Continental.

Other changes that have happened or are in the works:
  • Air China will be moving from Terminal Two to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
  • Air France has finished consolidating their operations at the TBIT
  • Air New Zealand will also be moving to the TBIT
  • AirTran has been subsumed by Southwest and has virtually disappeared from the scene at LAX
  • KLM has moved to the TBIT
  • Virgin Australia, who bounced from Terminals Three, Two, and Five, has landed at the TBIT
There are doubtless many others, but those are some of the ones that come readily to mind. Stay tuned: When the dust settles, we'll continue a terminal-by-terminal look at who flies at LAX.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Feelin' the Love

 After some thirty-five years, the provisions of the Wright Amendment have expired, allowing expanded airline service at Dallas Love airport. Since 1979, airlines at Love have only been allowed to fly from Love to destinations in Texas and its neighboring states. Southwest was the main target of this legislation, as all the carriers at Love had been required to move to DFW when that airport opened in 1974. Southwest had not existed when the agreement to relocate all airline operations was signed, and claimed that as (at that time) it only operated within the state of Texas, the Civil Aeronautics Board had no jurisdiction. Thus Southwest's in-state operations were tolerated at Love airport, while all other air carriers flew out of DFW. Then the Airline Deregulation Act was passed in 1978, and Southwest announced plans to expand service outside of Texas beginning in 1979. The Wright Amendment (to the International Air Transportation Act of 1979) was designed to protect the huge investment of the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, along with all the participating airlines, in DFW airport. The amendment was sponsored by Jim Wright, a congressional representative from Fort Worth. It restricted airline service from Dallas Love airport to Texas and its adjoining states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana). In 1997, the Shelby Amendment added Alabama, Mississippi, and Kansas to the list of states that could be served from Love field. Missouri was included as a result of the Bond Amendment in 2005.

Meanwhile, in 2004 Southwest announced its intention to pursue repeal of the Wright Amendment. Not surprisingly, American Airlines took the opposing side, and advocated against repealing the amendment. A compromise bill was passed in 2006 that put into place a gradual loosening of the flight restrictions at Love Field. The final date was October 13th of this year, making Love open to airline flights to any city in the nation. On that day, both Southwest and Virgin America initiated service between LAX and Dallas Love Field. Dallas is a new non-stop destination for Southwest from Los Angeles. While Virgin America had previously been offering flights into DFW, those flights are now flown into Love Field. 

So LAX now has airline service to both major airports in the Dallas area: American and Spirit fly into DFW, while Southwest and Virgin America fly into Love.

For more about the Wright Amendment, I suggest this Wikipedia entry:  Wright_Amendment

Saturday, October 25, 2014

LAN Dreamliners: They're back!

LAN was the first airline to bring the 787 into LAX on scheduled service, but the Dreamliners disappeared in the wake of the burning battery debacle. Once that was ironed out, United brought their B787s back -- and in fact we're now starting to see United's new stretched -9 Dreamliners. Earlier this year, United's Dreamliners were joined by 787s flown by Norwegian Air Shuttle. Conspicuously absent were the LAN Dreamliners, which had been replaced by B767s. But last week, we started to see LAN 787s again. I caught this one departing around lunch time.