Saturday
Nov062010

Mount Merapi erupts; many Jakarta flights cancelled

Eruption of the Javanese volcano Merapi in the southeastern Asian island country of Indonesia snarled air traffic at the country's largest airport today.  Three dozen flights involving Soekarno-Hatta International Airport west of the Indonesian capital Jakarta (IATA: CGK; ICAO: WIII) have been cancelled by their operating airlines because of the eruption.  The red dot on the computer-generated image below shows the location of Merapi on the island of Java.

The Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times said ash from the volcano, located about 268 miles to the southeast of Jakarta on the island of Java, has not in fact reached the Indonesian capital.  A spokesman for Soekarno-Hatta Airport said the flights, from 11 different carriers based in both Europe and Asia, were cancelled as a precaution.  This series of cancellations comes just a few days prior to a scheduled state visit to Indonesia by an official delegation from the United States of America.

This delegation, of unknown size, accompanies President Barack Obama, who spent four years in the country as a child, following the enactment by second Indonesian President Suharto, of a policy recalling all Indonesian students studying abroad, which included Obama's step-father.

In any case, the name Merapi means "mountain of fire" in the Javanese languageMerapi has erupted regularly since 1548, and an eruption of the volcano a millennium ago is said to have completely covered central Java in ash, and even had political consequences.  Java is home to sixty percent of the Indonesian population, and is by far the most populous island in the world.

Soekarno-Hatta International opened in 1985 as a replacement for Kemayoran Airport (the latter now the site of the annual Jakarta Fair).  The facility is named for Indonesia's first President, known internationally simply as Soekarno, and his Vice President Mohammad Hatta.  It is a hub for the Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, the international airline Batavia Air, and several domestic carriers and cargo airlines.  Soekarno-Hatta served a little more than 37 million passengers last year, about as many as San Francisco International (IATA: SFO; ICAO: KSFO) in the United States, and slightly fewer than Schiphol Airport (IATA: AMS; ICAO: EHAM) in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

original stories

Merapi ash disrupts int'l flights after Saturday eruption (Jakarta Post)

Airlines stop Jakarta flights after volcano blast (Jakarta Post)

Mount Merapi sparks travel chaos (Jakarta Post)

All Jakarta flights cancelled (The Straits Times)

Jakarta flights cancelled due to volcano (Reuters India)

 

Thursday
Nov042010

Air Berlin begins Winter 2011 route to Spain's Costa Blanca

Tomorrow the Berlin, Germany-based airline Air Berlin will commence a twice-weekly route that will run through this coming winter, between the largest Swiss city Zurich, and the Spanish resort town of Alicante.  The time slots used by the route were negotiated with the convenience of Swiss visitors to Alicante in mind.  The Friday Zurich-Alicante route is scheduled to depart at 11:50 in the morning, local time, and the Sunday Zurich-Alicante route is scheduled to depart at 8:35 in the morning, local time.  The Friday Alicante-Zurich route is scheduled to depart at 2:50 in the afternoon, local time, and the Sunday Alicante-Zurich route is scheduled to depart at 11:35 in the morning, local time.  This new route will run once in each direction on Fridays, and once in each direction on Sundays, indefinitely.

Specifically, the route will run between Zurich Airport (IATA: ZRH; ICAO: LSZH) and Alicante International Airport (IATA: ALC; ICAO: LEAL) southwest of the town of Alicante.  Zurich is an alpine Swiss city in the north-central region of that country.  The town of Alicante is located in the eponymous Spanish province, on the stretch of Mediterranean coastline in Spain known as the Costa Blanca, or "White Coast" in English.

The now defunct British European Airways devised the name Costa Blanca to refer to the stretch of Spanish coastline partly occupied by Alicante, in the 1950s.

Air Berlin is a German airline operating a semi-low-cost business model.  It is the second-largest German-based airline behind Lufthansa.  It operates 148 aircraft to 154 destinations on the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.  Air Berlin was formed in the American state of Oregon in 1978 as Air Berlin USA, by former employees of Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) and the supplemental carrier Modern Air Transport.  The airline relocated to the German city whose name it shares, in 1985.  It has hubs in the German cities of Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Nuremberg, and also on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

related stories

Tokyo's Haneda Airport resumes regular international service (October 31, 2010)

France-based airline flies non-stop to Baghdad (October 31, 2010)

Air Canada expands Winter 2011 schedule (October 21, 2010)

Hawaiian Airlines starts non-stop Maui-Las Vegas route (October 8, 2010)

JetBlue now flies between Boston and Phoenix non-stop (September 4, 2010)

Finnair flies to Stockholm-Bromma starting Wednesday (August 16, 2010)

original story (Air Berlin)

Sunday
Oct312010

Tokyo's Haneda Airport resumes regular international service

Today, for the first time in 32 years, regularly scheduled international air traffic operated through Tokyo, Japan's Haneda Airport (IATA: HND; ICAO: RJTT), the busiest airport in the country, and the second busiest in all Asia.  Between the two large airports serving the Tokyo metropolitan area, Haneda is the one located closer to the city center, and is therefore the one preferred by business travelers.  The international terminal at Haneda in fact opened on October 21, though no traffic traversed the terminal on that date.

The second-largest airline based in Japan, All Nippon Airways (ANA), commenced five new international routes through Haneda today.  As part of the airport's reactivated international program, All Nippon will operate the Boeing 767-300ER in a 214-seat configuration between Haneda and the American city of Honolulu, the Thai capital Bangkok, the largest Taiwanese city Taipei, and Singapore.  It will also operate the Boeing 777-200ER in a 223-seat configuration between Haneda and the American city of Los Angeles.

In addition, Thai Airways International commenced a Bangkok-Tokyo route today, through Haneda, and its hub at Suvarnabhumi Airport (IATA: BKK; ICAO: VTBS) in the Thai capital.

A number of other airlines will begin flying international routes to and from Haneda within months.  Air Canada plans to commence a non-stop route to and from Vancouver International (IATA: YVR; ICAO: CYVR) next January.  American Airlines plans to begin flying non-stop between Kennedy International in New York (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK) and Haneda next January as well.  British Airways plans to add to its international programme a non-stop route between its hub at Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR; ICAO: EGLL) and Haneda next February.  Also next February, United States-based Delta Air Lines plans to begin non-stop flights between Haneda and Los Angeles International (IATA: LAX; ICAO: KLAX), and between Haneda and Detroit Metropolitan (IATA: DTW; ICAO: KDTW).  This past July, Hawaiian Airlines received approval for a non-stop route between Honolulu International (IATA: HNL; ICAO: PHNL) and Haneda, originally scheduled to commence today, but which has been pushed back to a start date later this month.

Haneda Airport opened in 1931, and has been under continuous control of the Japanese government since 1958.  It is operated by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.  When suburban Narita International Airport (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA) to the east of the city, opened in 1978, all international air traffic was routed through that facility.  With the opening of the international terminal, there are now three terminals at Haneda Airport.  The others are terminals 1 and 2.  Terminal 1 at Haneda is known as Big Bird, or just "the bird," because of its apparent shape from an aerial perspective.

original stories

Weekly travel agenda: Haneda international flights begin (The Independent)

ANA to Launch Five International Routes from Haneda Airport (All Nippon Airways)

THAI Introduces Daily Flights to Haneda (Thai Airways International)

Air Canada to double daily Vancouver-Tokyo service with launch of Canada's only non-stop flights to Haneda Airport, conveniently located near central Tokyo (Air Canada)

American Airlines Awarded Right to Fly From New York Kennedy to Tokyo (Haneda), the Busiest Airport in Asia (American Airlines)

Haneda Holiday (British Airways)

Delta Announces Tokyo-Haneda Flight Schedules (Delta Air Lines)

Hawaiian Confirmed for Tokyo Service (Hawaiian Airlines)

Sunday
Oct312010

France-based airline flies non-stop to Baghdad

The Paris, France-based airline Aigle Azur made one of the first non-stop civilian passenger flights from western Europe to Baghad, Iraq since the Persian Gulf War yesterday.  This introductory flight was operated with a 148-passenger Airbus A319.  Earlier today, the United Kingdom-based Daily Telegraph reminded its readers how adamantly France opposed the 2003 United States-led invasion of Iraq.  In its next paragraph it quoted French Minister of Finance Anne-Marie Idrac, who called it "unthinkable" for businesses headquartered in her country not to participate in the rebuilding of Iraq.  The Finance Minister was aboard the flight, along with around 40 French business leaders.

It will be "another two to three months," before the route begins to run on a regular schedule, according to an Associated Press article printed in the Charlotte (North Carolina, United States) Observer yesterday.  The route will fly between Charles de Gaulle Airport northeast of Paris (IATA: CDG; ICAO: LFPG), and Baghdad International Airport ten miles west of the center of the Iraqi capital (IATA: BGW; ICAO: ORBI).  The route was introduced by Aigle Azur with the expectation that users of the twice-weekly service will be predominantly business travelers.  It is expected that the economy class tickets will start out selling for around 1500 EUR (1305 GBP, 2079 USD), and that business class tickets will start out selling for around 2500 EUR (2176 GBP, 3464 USD).

Toward the beginning of this year, the largest German airline Lufthansa announced plans to introduce a four times weekly non-stop route between Munich and Baghdad, which would have commenced at the end of last month.  But the route was cancelled due to disappointing ticket sales, and general lack of interest.

Aigle Azur was founded in Paris in 1946, and now operates out of the Paris commune nearest Charles de Gaulle Airport, Tremblay-en-France.  Since the 1950s, Aigle Azur has maintained a focus on southern Europe, northern Africa, and Asia.  The French phrase aigle azur means "azure eagle."  Nevertheless, the airline does not market particularly to English speakers, does not have an English translation of its official website, and has no official English translation of its name.  Aigle Azur operates an all-Airbus fleet of 12 aircraft to 26 destinations in the European countries of France, Portugal, and Spain; the African countries of Algeria, Mali, Morocco, and Tunisia; and the Middle Eastern country of Iraq.

Its largest hub is Orly Airport (IATA: ORY; ICAO: LFPO), the second-largest airport serving the Paris metropolitan area.  It also operates a hub in Algiers, the capital of Algeria.  In addition, Aigle Azur has identified four focus airports, two of which are in Algeria, another of which serves the Côte d’Azur resort city of Marseille, and another of which serves the Rhone River city of Lyon.  This latter airport (IATA: LYS; ICAO: LFLL) was renamed in 2000, for the French (and Lyonnais) writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

related stories

Air Canada expands Winter 2011 schedule (October 21, 2010)

Hawaiian Airlines starts non-stop Maui-Las Vegas route (October 8, 2010)

JetBlue now flies between Boston and Phoenix non-stop (September 4, 2010)

Finnair flies to Stockholm-Bromma starting Wednesday (August 16, 2010)

original stories

First passenger plane in 20 years lands in Baghdad (Daily Telegraph)

French airline makes landmark flight to Baghdad (Charlotte Observer)

Juergen Lehle (albspotter.eu) is the source of the photo used in this article.

http://albspotter.eu

Thursday
Oct282010

Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev express rail line begins service

Claimed to be the fastest passenger trains in the world, a magnetic levitation (maglev) express route started operating between the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou this past Tuesday.  One terminus of the route is the station at Pudong International Airport (IATA: PVG; ICAO: ZSPD) in Shanghai.  The other terminus is in the inland city of Hangzhou, 125 miles (202 kilometers) to the southwest.  This new express service has lowered the train travel time between the two cities from 78 minutes to 45 minutes.  These numbers would indicate that the new express train averages around 167 miles per hour (273 kilometers per hour).  The trains will carry passengers at a maximum of 220 miles per hour (360 kilometers per hour), but have been clocked as fast as 267 miles per hour (436 kilometers per hour).

original stories

Video: China unveils fastest train in world (Daily Telegraph)

Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed rail service is up (Business Traveller Magazine Asia-Pacific)

Monday
Oct252010

United, Continental, and All Nippon get anti-trust immunity

Last Friday, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism approved anti-trust immunity for an alliance between United States-based United Continental Holdings (comprised of United Airlines and Continental Airlines), and Japan-based All Nippon Airways.  Final approval of the partnership by the United States Department of Transportation is forthcoming.  The partnership will seek to take advantage of a recently signed open skies agreement between the United States and Japan

United Airlines ultimately traces its origins to 1926, and to an air mail service founded by Walter Varney, and called Varney Air Lines.  Boeing Air Transport was founded a year later, by William Boeing.  In 1931, Varney and Boeing merged their companies to create United Airlines.  United flies a fleet of 360 aircraft to 73 domestic destinations and 41 international destinations.  United Airlines and and its subsidiaries together fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents, a distinction the airline only laid claim to earlier this year when it inaugurated its first ever service to the Ghanaian capital of Accra.  United Airlines' hubs are located in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago, Illinois.  Its offices are located in Chicago.

The airline now called Continental Airlines was also founded by Walter Varney.  It commenced operations in 1934 as Varney Speed Lines.  It changed its name to Continental Airlines three years later.  Continental and its subsidiaries fly to 130 domestic destinations and 132 international destinations.  It and its subsidiaries also fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents.  Continental Airlines' hubs are in Houston, Texas; ClevelandNewark, New Jersey; and on the American-owned island of Guam.  Its offices are located in Houston.

A merger between United and Continental, under the holding company United Continental Holdings was approved by the United States Department of Justice this past August.  United Continental Holdings company stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

All Nippon Airways is the second-largest Japanese-based airline (behind Japan Airlines).  It was formed in 1952.  It operates hubs at Tokyo's two largest airports, Haneda (IATA: HND; ICAO: RJTT) and Narita (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA); and also at Osaka's two largest airports, Osaka International (IATA: ITM; ICAO: RJOO) and Kansai International (IATA: KIX; ICAO: RJBB).  It operates 168 passenger aircraft to 71 destinations on the continents of Asia, North America, and Europe.  It is based in the municipality of Minato in Tokyo.  Company stock is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

All airlines involved in this trans-Pacific partnership are members of the Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world.  United is a charter member, participating in the alliance's founding in 1997.  All Nippon joined in 1999, and Continental in 2009.

related stories

United and Continental shareholders vote on merger tomorrow (September 16, 2010)

Continental jobs will stay in Cleveland for five years (September 16, 2010)

Department of Justice approves United-Continental merger (August 27, 2010)

original stories

ANA Continental and United Secure Japanese Anti-Trust Immunity for Trans-Pacific (Air Transport News)

United Continental Holdings Applauds Signing of U.S.-Japan Open Skies Agreement (United Airlines)

United Continental Holdings Applauds Signing of U.S.-Japan Open Skies Agreement (Continental Airlines)

Thursday
Oct212010

Air Canada expands Winter 2011 schedule

Travelers with access to one or the other of the two busiest airports (by passenger count) in the Canadian province of Quebec will have additional Caribbean vacation options through Air Canada this coming winter.  In addition, Air Canada will fly its first-ever route between Canada and the continent of Africa, starting next month.

Starting December 19, the Cuban resort town of Varadero will be accessible with the Canadian flag carrier, non-stop from both Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (IATA: YUL; ICAO: CYUL) in Montreal and Jean Lesage International Airport (IATA: YQB; ICAO: CYQB) in Quebec City.  Each route will operate once a week in each direction, on Sundays.  This route will terminate on April 10, next year.

Starting December 20, Air Canada will fly weekly between Trudeau International and Roberts International (IATA: ROB; ICAO: GLRB) in Liberia, each Monday.  The airline will fly this route until April 18, next year.

Starting December 23, Canada's largest airline (by every common measure) will fly weekly between Trudeau International and Cozumel International (IATA: CZM; ICAO: MMCZ) on the Mexican island of Cozumel, each Thursday.  This route will run until April 14, next year.

Starting December 24, Air Canada will fly weekly between Trudeau International and Abel Santamaria Airport (IATA: SNU; ICAO: MUSC) in Santa Clara, Cuba, each Friday.  This route will cease on April 8, next year.

Finally, starting January 8, Air Canada will fly weekly between Trudeau International and Vere Cornwall Bird International (IATA: ANU; ICAO: TAPA) on the Caribbean island of Antigua, each Saturday.  This route will be flown by Air Canada until April 9, next year.

Trudeau International was called Dorval International from its establishment in 1941, until 2004.

Air Canada was founded in 1936 as Trans-Canada Airlines.  It took its current name in 1965.  It acquired poorly-performing Calgary, Alberta-based Canadian Airlines in 2001.  Air Canada was voted North America’s “Best Airline” at the 2010 World Airline Awards in Hamburg, Germany.  The airline operates a fleet of 202 aircraft (Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer) to 177 destinations on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.  It also flies to Sydney, Australia.  It operates hubs at Trudeau International, Lester Bowles Pearson International in Toronto (IATA: YYZ; ICAO: CYYZ), Calgary International (IATA: YYC; ICAO: CYYC), and Vancouver International (IATA: YVR; ICAO: CYVR).  Edmonton, Alberta; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the national capital Ottawa, Ontario are focus cities for the airline.  Air Canada is a publicly traded company headquartered in Montreal, and traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

related stories

Hawaiian Airlines starts non-stop Maui-Las Vegas route (October 8, 2010)

JetBlue now flies between Boston and Phoenix non-stop (September 4, 2010)

Finnair flies to Stockholm-Bromma starting Wednesday (August 16, 2010)

original story (Air Canada)

Wednesday
Oct202010

Virgin America wins Condé Nast Readers' Choice Award

For the second consecutive year, Virgin America, Inc. successfully defended its possession of the Condé Nast Readers' Choice Award for "Best Domestic Airline."  Virgin America won this award in 2008, the airline's first year of eligibility for the award.  It won again in 2009.  Singapore Airlines ran away with the award for "Best Global Airline," followed not very closely by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, and Dubai-based Emirates.  Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the names of two of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates.

Results of the contest are determined by a vote involving thousands of readers of the New York-based magazine Condé Nast Traveler.  Full results of all voting will appear in the upcoming November issue of the magazine.

Virgin America, which flies an all-Airbus fleet of A319 and A320 aircraft, was founded in 2004 in California, and began flying passengers in 2007.  It operates with a low-fare business model.  It is one of the several brands (in a number of industries) with “Virgin” in its name, developed by the British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.  It flies 30 aircraft to 14 destinations, 13 in the United States, and one in Canada.  It primarily markets its services to the west coast and east coast of the United States, but also flies to Las Vegas, Nevada (IATA: LAS; ICAO: KLAS) and Dallas, Texas (IATA: DFW; ICAO: KDFW).  Its Canadian destination is Toronto, Ontario (IATA: YYZ; ICAO: CYYZ).  Virgin America plans to introduce service to two destinations in Mexico before the end of the year, and service to one more next January.  It has also publicized plans to possibly triple the size of its all-Airbus fleet by 2016.  Virgin America’s main hub is San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFO; ICAO: KSFO).  Los Angeles is a focus city for the airline.

original story (Virgin America)

Friday
Oct152010

Swiss-constructed Gotthard Base Tunnel reaches a milestone

Today in Switzerland, justifiably very proud construction workers operating a 3,000-ton tunnel creation machine called Sissi, blasted through the final six feet of alpine mountainside which stood in the way of the completion of the first tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel.  AlpTransit Gotthard AG, a construction company wholly owned by Swiss Federal Railways, is in charge of the Tunnel's construction.  The Tunnel is part of the much larger AlpTransit project which aims to connect the primarily east-west oriented Swiss railway system to four north-south oriented axes, named ZimmerbergLötschberg, Ceneri, and Gotthard.

The Zimmerberg Base Tunnel, the northernmost tunnel in the project, extends 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the largest Swiss city, Zurich, to a small Swiss town called Thalwil.  There is a long-term project in place to extend the Zimmerberg Base Tunnel from Thalwil, an additional 10 kilometers to the Swiss town of Zug, but this is on hold.  The Zimmerberg Base Tunnel is named for a nearby mountain.

The Lötschberg Base Tunnel, the western axis of the AlpTransit project, consists of two tubes, one each for traffic in each direction.  Lötschberg, named for a section of the Bernese Alps through which it passes, opened to passenger and freight rail traffic in 2007.  It has enjoyed success facilitating rail travel between cities in western Switzerland (such as Basel, the national capital Berne, and Geneva), and the Italian alpine city of Turin.  Rail passengers originating in France have also made convenient use of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel to visit Switzerland, or northwestern Italy.

At 57 kilometers (35.4 miles), the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the eastern axis of the AlpTransit project, will be the longest transport tunnel in the world when finished.  When it is complete, it also will consist of two tubes, one for trains traveling northward, and the other for trains traveling southward.  It will become part of a rail route between the largest Swiss city Zurich, and the Italian fashion capital Milan.  The London-based Daily Telegraph today stressed the "economically important link" between the Dutch seaport city of Rotterdam, and the Italian seaport city of Genoa, in an article noting the Gotthard milestone.  The Telegraph implied strongly that cargo shipping between the two ports, the former on the North Sea, and the latter with easy access to the Mediterranean Sea, would be greatly facilitated.  Using currently existing infrastructure, the scenic journey through the Lepontine Alps between Zurich and Milan takes 3 hours 30 minutes.  But six or seven years from now when the Tunnel is open to passenger rail, trains passing through will complete the journey in only 1 hour 40 minutes.  Rail passengers originating in Germany will be able to make convenient use of the Tunnel to visit Switzerland or north-central Italy.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is one of the finest infrastructural accomplishments in world history, and the Tunnel's tentatively scheduled opening in 2016 or 2017 will no doubt rival that of the Anglo-French Channel Tunnel sixteen years ago, in anticipation, fanfare, and national pride.  The current Gotthard Rail Tunnel was built in 1881 and it opened to rail traffic the following year.  It is 15 kilometers long (9 miles long) and approximately follows the path connecting the Swiss towns of Ertsfeld and Pollegio, traced by the Gotthard Road Tunnel section of the Swiss A2 motorway.  This section of road on the A2 was constructed during the 1970s, opened in 1980, and served as a more accessible alternative to the rather intimidating Gotthard Pass.

The Gotthard Pass, the higher-capacity Road Tunnel which later circumvented it, the 1881 Rail Tunnel, and the modern Base Tunnel, are all named for the Saint-Gotthard Massif range of the Swiss Alps through which they traversed, currently traverse, or will soon traverse.

The alpine range itself is named for the historical Gotthard of Hildesheim, a Bavarian Catholic saint of the tenth and eleventh centuries anno domini.  (Perhaps appropriately, he is the patron saint of traveling merchants.)

Almost 300 construction workers lost their lives constructing the original 1881 Rail Tunnel, which will be replaced by the Gotthard Base Tunnel.  Eight construction workers have died since the beginning of the construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, in 1996.

South of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, rail passengers riding to or from Milan will also traverse the Ceneri Base Tunnel, named for the valley through which it is expected to soon pass.  Like Zimmerberg, Lötschberg and Gotthard, Ceneri will also consist of two tubes, one for trains traveling north, and the other for trains traveling south.  The Ceneri Base Tunnel is currently planned as the smallest of the four parts of this incredibly ambitious project.  Like the Gotthard section of the project, the Ceneri Base Tunnel will adhere closely to the A2 motorway.  Blasting for the Ceneri Base Tunnel began this past spring, and tunneling is expected to begin in earnest before the end of this year.

Swiss Federal Railways is the government-owned national railway company of Switzerland.  Until 1999, Swiss Federal Railways was an agency of the government of Switzerland.  But during that year, the agency incorporated, with all company shares owned by either the government, or the individual governments of the Swiss cantons.

The AlpTransit project (Zimmerberg, Lötschberg, Ceneri, and Gotthard collectively) also goes by the name of the New Railway Link Through the Alps (NRLA) in the Anglophone media.  The western tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel is expected to be open on both ends by sometime early next year.  Check back here for updates on the progress of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, and the AlpTransit (NRLA) project in general.

Congratulations Switzerland.

original stories

The Gotthard Base Tunnel: Miracle Under the Alps (Der Spiegel Online)

Swiss celebrate longest tunnel breakthrough (Daily Telegraph Online)

Gotthard base tunnel: Final breakthrough of the longest railway tunnel in the world (The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation)

Friday
Oct152010

Jetstar and American agree to codeshare flights

The Australia-based Qantas Airways subsidiary Jetstar Airways, and United States-based American Airlines, have arranged a codeshare agreement.  American Airlines posted to their website yesterday morning that it plans to put its codeshare symbol (AA) on five routes operated by Jetstar entirely within New Zealand, Australia's neighbor across the Tasman Sea.  Three of those are the Jetstar routes between Jetstar's focus city of Auckland, and the cities of Christchurch, Queenstown, and Wellington, the national capital.  The other two are routes between Christchurch and Queenstown, and between Christchurch and Wellington.

In addition, an interline agreement between the two carriers will enable American Airlines customers to access the regional network of Jetstar.  Jetstar’s CEO Bruce Buchanan said the codeshare relationship will enable customers to book flights on all three airlines, “as part of a single booking.”  In addition, Jetstar flights marketed with the Qantas codeshare symbol (QF) will be eligible for American Airlines frequent flier program reward points.

Qantas and American are both charter members of the Oneworld airline alliance.  Qantas is affectionately nicknamed “The Flying Kangaroo.”

Qantas was founded in 1920 in the Australian town of Winton, Queensland, as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.  Its official name is now Qantas Airways Limited, and it no longer uses its original full name for any official purpose.  It uses Kingsford Smith Airport near Sydney (IATA: SYD; ICAO: YSSY), and Tullamarine Airport near Melbourne (IATA: MEL; ICAO: YMML), as its hubs, and is based in the Botany Bay neighborhood of Sydney.

Jetstar was founded by Qantas in 2003 as a low-fare subsidiary, operating within Australia.  It is wholly-owned by Qantas, and has since branched out beyond Australia.  It flies 52 aircraft to 30 destinations in the countries of Australia and New Zealand, on the continent of Asia, and including the American state of Hawaii.  Its largest hub is Tullamarine Airport, and its main offices are in Melbourne.

American Airlines was founded in 1930 in New York, when dozens of smaller airlines combined to form American Airways.  It now operates 621 aircraft to 260 destinations, in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.  It is the second-largest airline in the world by the former measure, and is the world’s third-largest airline by the latter measure.  The company moved its main offices to Dallas, Texas in 1979.  This relocation was criticized as a betrayal by then-New York mayor Ed Koch.  American’s main hub is Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (IATA: DFW; ICAO: KDFW), and its main offices are in Dallas.

related stories

Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific expand codeshare (September 17, 2010)

Delta and Hawaiian agree to codeshare flights (September 11, 2010)

Finnair will buy 20 percent of Finnish Commuter Airlines (September 9, 2010)

Aegean and Continental agree to codeshare flights (August 26, 2010)

Turkish Airlines and US Airways codeshare effective September 1 (August 12, 2010)

Brussels Airlines and Continental Airlines codeshare (August 7, 2010)

American and JetBlue launch partnership at JFK and Logan (July 20, 2010)

original stories

American Airlines and Jetstar Announce Codeshare and Interline Agreements (American Airlines)

American Airlines, Jetstar to code share (Sydney Morning Herald)

American Air deal for Jetstar (New Zealand Herald)

Sunday
Oct102010

Toxic spill in Hungary kills four, reaches Danube; cruises go on

Last Monday a factory reservoir broke open near the town of Devecser in western Hungary, releasing more than 20 million cubic feet (600,000 cubic meters) of toxic material into the rivers and streams of Hungary, including the legendary Danube River.  According to www.cruisecritic.co.uk, there are a number of cruise lines which offer itineraries along the Danube, including Avalon Waterways, Sea Cloud Cruises, and Viking River CruisesAs of last Thursday, none of these cruise lines had cancelled or altered any of their Danube River cruise itineraries.

Nevertheless, the Hungarian environment minister believes that the reservoir wall is not strong enough to hold the toxic material that remains confined for the time being, and that it will ultimately collapse.  He warned that the collapse could come "within a day or a week."  This event, which the environment minister called "inevitable," would surely trigger a catastrophe even worse than what has already happened in western Hungary, and to a lesser extent, in the surrounding countries.  According to the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph, Romanian and Serbian agencies are also running checks on their water to determine what level of contamination, if any, exists locally.

The Danube, which has been the subject of paintings, works of literature, and a very famous waltz, runs north-south through Hungary, roughly divides the country into a western third and an eastern two-thirds, and divides the ancient cities of Buda and Pest (united as one city since 1873) near the northern border.  The Danube flows through four European capitals, more than any other river.  Heading downstream, those are the Austrian capital Vienna, the Slovakian capital Bratislava, the Hungarian capital Budapest, and the Serbian capital Belgrade.  The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe behind the Volga.  It is 1771 miles (2850 kilometers) long, making it longer than North America's Colorado River, but shorter than the Missouri River.

original stories

Video: Toxic sludge floods Hungarian villages (Daily Telegraph)

Toxic Sludge in Danube Leaves Cruises Unaffected (www.cruisecritic.co.uk)

Hungarian toxic spill: wall of resivoir will collapse, environment minister says (Daily Telegraph)

Friday
Oct082010

Hawaiian Airlines starts non-stop Maui-Las Vegas route

This past Sunday, Hawaiian Airlines introduced twice-weekly service between the Hawaiian island of Maui and the American mainland city of Las Vegas.  The route will be flown with a Boeing 767-300 in a 264-seat configuration.

On Sundays and Wednesdays, the Boeing 767-300 is scheduled to leave from Kahului Airport (IATA: OGG; ICAO: PHOG) on the island of Maui at 8:00 in the morning local time, and is scheduled to arrive at McCarran International Airport (IATA: LAS; ICAO: KLAS) in Las Vegas at 4:35 in the afternon during Pacific Daylight Time, and 3:35 in the afternoon during Pacific Standard Time.  The return flights to Maui will take place those same days of the week.  They are scheduled to depart from Las Vegas at 6:25 in the afternoon PDT (5:25 PST), and arrive in Maui at 9:25 in the evening, Hawaiian time.

Hawaiian Airlines was founded in 1929 as Inter-island Airways.  The airline changed its name to Hawaiian Airlines in 1941.  It operates 34 aircraft to 21 destinations, five within Hawaii, ten on the American mainland, three in Asia, two in the South Pacific, and one in Australia.  Hawaiian Airlines has been the recipient of a number of awards over the past few years, including awards for punctuality, baggage handling, and fewest oversales.  Its main offices are in Honolulu, the Hawaiian state capital.  Its largest hub is at Honolulu International Airport (IATA: HNL; ICAO: PHNL).

related stories

JetBlue now flies between Boston and Phoenix non-stop (September 4, 2010)

Finnair flies to Stockholm-Bromma starting Wednesday (August 16, 2010)

United Airlines debuts first route to and from Africa (June 19, 2010)

Air Canada inaugurates non-stop Montréal-Brussels route (June 13, 2010)

Delta will begin once-daily Seattle-Osaka route today (June 7, 2010)

Swiss International begins Zurich-San Francisco route (June 6, 2010)

Delta will fly between Seattle and Beijing starting Friday (June 1, 2010)

original story (Hawaiian Airlines)

Monday
Oct042010

U.K.-based FlyBe seeks merger with mainland carrier

FlyBe Limited, a low-cost airline based in the United Kingdom, has announced that it would like to acquire or merge with one or more airlines based on the Continent before March 31 of next year.  FlyBe eagerly anticipated discussions with the Finnish national airline Finnair, concerning a possible alliance focused on "regional operations," or short-range flights.  Chief Executive for FlyBe Jim French, stressed that the carrier does not have plans at this time to grow beyond regional operations, and wishes to continue flying only two types of aircraft, the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, and the Embraer E-195.

FlyBe Limited currently flies only the two aircraft types aforementioned.  But it has struck a deal with Embraer for 35 of a third type, the E-175.  In addition, the deal gives FlyBe the option of purchasing up to 105 more of the E-175.  FlyBe was founded in 1979 as Jersey European Airways, when it took over U.K.-based Intra Airways.  In 2000, it re-branded itself as British European. (British European was no relation to British European Airways, which merged with the British Overseas Airways Corporation to co-found British Airways in 1974.)  It changed its name to FlyBe Limited in 2002, and changed to a low-fare business model.  (The second syllable of its name is a contraction of "British European.")  FlyBe operates 72 aircraft to 45 destinations, all of which are in Europe.  FlyBe maintains thirteen bases of operations throughout the island of Great Britain, and three on the British Crown Dependencies in the Irish Sea and the English Channel.  Its main offices are at Exeter International Airport (IATA: EXT; ICAO: EGTE) in the County of Devon in South West England.

original story (www.aviationweek.com)

Monday
Sep272010

Low-cost carriers AirTran and Southwest announce merger

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines announced a merger today, with low-cost carrier AirTran Airways.  The transaction is currently valued at almost $1.4 billion, and involves "all of the outstanding common stock of AirTran Holdings, Inc." for AirTran's part, and "a combination of cash and Southwest Airlines' common stock," for Southwest's part, according to a press release on the subject, put out today by Southwest.  Therefore, Southwest will be the surviving airline when all is said and done.

Although airline mergers have traditionally been associated with higher fares along affected routes, because of less competition, a phenomenon labeled the "Southwest effect," resulting in more competition among airlines in the same market, not less, seems to have taken hold following expansions by the Dallas, Texas-based Southwest.  But the founder of www.airfarewatchdog.com, George Hobica, told the Christian Science Monitor that Southwest's fares are not as low as they used to be.  This could mean the "Southwest effect" will not be as pronounced following this expansion by the airline, than it has been in the past.

Southwest, a traditional choice of budget-conscious leisure travelers, sets its sights on the market for business travelers with this merger, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  The planned merger will give Southwest a slightly larger presence than what it already has at Logan International Airport (IATA: BOS; ICAO: KBOS) in Boston, where AirTran flies to and from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (IATA: BWI; ICAO: KBWI) in Maryland, and a slightly larger presence in New York, where AirTran uses LaGuardia Airport (IATA: LGA; ICAO: KLGA).  The merger would also give Southwest a foot in the door at Reagan National Airport (IATA: DCA; ICAO: KDCA), the Washington, D.C.-area airport preferred by business travelers.

The planned merger could mean lower fares at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia (IATA: ATL; ICAO: KATL), where the world's largest carrier Delta Air Lines has heretofore successfully competed against the relatively small AirTran, which also operates a hub there.  However, the presence of the much larger Southwest, also a low-cost airline, could force Delta to lower its price there.  Southwest does not currently fly to Atlanta.

Southwest drew the ire of other United States-based airlines recently when it rebelled against the remarkably uniform trend of charging passengers extra for a first checked bag, and in many cases, even more for a second checked bag.  As of the time of this post, within certain weight and size limits, Southwest passengers are each permitted to check two pieces of luggage free of charge on every flight for which they have a ticket.  The San Francisco Chronicle notes that Southwest "intends to drop AirTran's checked bag fees."

AirTran Airways was founded as ValuJet Airlines in 1993 in suburban Atlanta, near Hartsfield-Jackson International.  In 1997, ValuJet executed a reverse merger with Airways Corporation, then the parent company of AirTran Airways, and moved its main offices from suburban Atlanta to Orlando, Florida.  It operates 138 aircraft to 72 destinations within the contiguous 48 United States, and to a number of other countries and overseas territories in the Caribbean Sea.  Its largest hubs are Hartsfield-Jackson, and Mitchell International in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (IATA: MKE; ICAO: KMKE).  AirTran operates secondary hubs at Baltimore-Washington International and Orlando International (IATA: MCO; ICAO: KMCO).  Stock in AirTran's parent company, AirTran Holdings, Inc., is traded on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol AAI.

Southwest Airlines has its origins in a company called Air Southwest, founded in Texas in 1967.  Allowed to fly in Texas only after a successful legal fight against such well-known carriers as Aloha Airlines (now defunct), Continental Airlines, and United Airlines, victorious Southwest finally operated its first flight in 1971, out of its hub at Love Field in Dallas (IATA: DAL; ICAO: KDAL).  It now operates 550 aircraft, third-most in the world, to 69 destinations, all within the contiguous 48 Unted States.  It calls its current livery design "Canyon Blue."  Southwest is still headquartered at Love Field, although it now uses ten roughly equal "focus cities," mostly located in the western United States.  Southwest's low-cost business model has been replicated internationally by such airlines as WestJet Airlines, based in Canada; EasyJet, based in the United Kingdom; and Ryanair, based in Ireland.  Southwest company stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol LUV, an allusion to the name of its first hub.

original stories

Two Great Airlines Join Forces: AirTran Airways Agrees to Acquisition by Southwest Airlines (AirTran Airways)

Southwest Airlines to Acquire AirTran; Spreading Low Fares Farther (Southwest Airlines)

Southwest-AirTran merger: What will it mean for ticket prices? (Christian Science Monitor)

Southwest bid for AirTran would bolster route map (San Francisco Chronicle Online)

If Southwest gobbles AirTran, do travelers get indigestion? (Los Angeles Times Online)

Saturday
Sep252010

Bomb threat diverts plane to Sweden; suspect released

The suspect connected to a bomb threat aboard a Boeing 777 en route from Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ; ICAO: CYYZ) in Toronto, the largest city in Canada, to Jinnah International Airport (IATA: KHI; ICAO: OPKC) in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, was released by authorities in Sweden today, after being questioned.  Canadian officials had received two tips via telephone yesterday, from a woman located in Canada, that the Boeing 777, operated as Pakistan International Airlines Flight 782, had explosives on board.  During the second call, the caller gave a description of the person who she said was in possession of the explosives.  This information informed the decision to divert the plane to Arlanda Airport near Stockholm (IATA: ARN; ICAO: ESSA).  Nine hours later, all passengers from Flight 782 except for the suspect flew on the same Boeing 777 to Manchester, England, and then flew from there to Jinnah International in Pakistan.

related stories

Thai Airways plane diverts to Los Angeles after bomb scare (September 8, 2010)

Kuwait City-Mumbai flight diverted due to bomb scare (August 21, 2010)

American Airlines flight aborts on taxiway after bomb threat (August 19, 2010)

AA jet lands in Aleutians after fire warning light goes on (July 13, 2010)

JFK terminal evacuated after bomb scare, reopened (July 4, 2010)

original story (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Thursday
Sep232010

British Airways resolves Iberia merger concern over deficit

Earlier today the largest airline based in Spain, Iberia Airlines, cleared another obstacle to its anticipated merger with British Airways (BA).  Iberia announced that it was happy with British Airways' plan for dealing with its 3.7 billion GBP pension deficit (4.36 billion EUR; 5.8 billion USD).  The United Kingdom's highest-profile airline showed Iberia how it plans to put 330 million GBP (388.55 million EUR; 517.67 million USD) annually into pension funds for the next sixteen years.

The anticipated merger would unite the two airlines under the same holding company, called International Airlines Group.  However, each of the two airlines would retain its long-established logos and branding schemes.  British Airways CEO Willie Walsh would become CEO of International Airlines Group, while Iberia CEO Antonio Vasquez Romero would become Chairman of the Board.  The holding company's operational headquarters would be in London, and its corporate headquarters would be in Madrid.  Iberia claims the merger will allow visitors from Europe to obtain inexpensive airfare to Central America.  The website www.beatthebrochure.com reports that the merger will make available "a vast array of services offering cheap flights" between destinations all over the globe.

British Airways was formed in 1974 with the merger of the British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways.  It is the United Kingdom’s highest-profile airline, and is headquartered very near its main hub Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR; ICAO: EGLL) in the London borough of Hillingdon.  British Airways flies a fleet of 237 aircraft to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents, and also maintains a hub at Gatwick Airport (IATA: LGW; ICAO: EGKK) southeast of London.

Iberia Airlines is the Spanish flag carrier, and was founded in 1927.  It is based in the national capital of Madrid.  Iberia maintains its largest hub at Barajas Airport in Madrid (IATA: MAD; ICAO: LEMD).  Spain's second-largest city Barcelona is a focus city for the airline.  Iberia flies 116 aircraft to 120 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, and South America.

related stories

DOT grants anti-trust immunity to BA-Iberia-AA alliance (July 22, 2010)

BA-Iberia merger approved by the EU (July 14, 2010)

original story (www.beatthebrochure.com)

Tuesday
Sep212010

Bus lines compete with rail for frustrated business travelers

USA Today reported that bus lines operating on the American east coast have recently upgraded their services in an attempt to compete with Amtrak and the airlines for business travelers disillusioned by the various hassles of travel by air.  Greyhound, BoltBus, and RedCoach in particular have recently upgraded services, lowered price, or done both, to try to take as much business as they can from an airline industry hit hard by price increases on fuel, and decreased demand in recent years.  Greyhound for the last several months has boasted upgraded amenities on buses running several of its routes on the American east coast, and into Canada.  But between the two, (price and services) price is really the area where bus travel frequently has the advantage over both rail travel and air travel, in the United States.  According to USA Today, BoltBus offers the first passenger to book a certain route at a certain time on a certain day, a fare of $1.  Typically, price will increase with the number of tickets sold on a particular route, and will also increase as the intended date of travel closes in.

However, airlines, particularly US Airways which runs hourly air shuttles between Washington, D.C. and New York and between New York and Boston during the week, do not seem as concerned about any potential threat posed by bus lines running the same routes along the ground.  A spokesperson from US Airways noted that for business travelers, who are frequently on a tighter schedule than leisure travelers, a one hour ten minutes flight between New York and Boston beats a four hour bus ride between those two cities, even including the pre-flight and post-flight red tape at the airports.

Moreover, an Amtrak spokesperson pointed out that Amtrak's pricing on certain routes is meant to be competitive with airfare along those same routes.  Thereby, Amtrak seemed to suggest that they also are not worried about losing any of the business travel market share to bus lines, even as those bus lines upgrade their services to match or even to exceed what is offered on Amtrak, and very often for a significantly lower price.

The unpredictability of the traffic on the interstate highways of the American east coast is often cited as one reason why travel by rail is worth it to business travelers, when compared with taking a bus.  Moreover, Amtrak's Acela Express trains (comprised entirely of business class and first class seating) can accomplish the journey from Washington, D.C. to New York in 2 hours 45 minutes, something that MegaBus, another low-cost bus line operating on the American east coast, takes 4 hours 20 minutes to accomplish.  But a traveler might pay $15 or $20 to ride MegaBus between Washington, D.C., and New York; compared to $75 for a coach seat, anywhere between $100 and $150 for a business class seat, and between $200 and $300 for a first class seat, on Amtrak, along that same route.

The article appeared in the Travel section of USA Today, today.

original story (USA Today)

Friday
Sep172010

Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific expand codeshare

A Hong Kong-focused codeshare expansion is in the works between Japan Airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways, according to a press release posted to the website of parent company Japan Airlines Group today.  Japan Airlines will place its codeshare symbol (JL) on the new Cathay Pacific route between Hong Kong International Airport (IATA: HKG; ICAO: VHHH) and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo (IATA: HND; ICAO: RJTT) scheduled to start on October 31.  Moreover, certain flights operated by both airlines between Hong Kong International and Tokyo's Narita International Airport (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA); and by Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong International and New Chitose Airport in Sapporo, Japan (IATA: CTS; ICAO: RJCC) will be part of the codeshare.

This agreement is an expansion of a currently existing codeshare in which Japan Airlines places its codeshare symbol on a number of Cathay Pacific flights connecting Hong Kong with Osaka and two small Japanese cities.  The Japan Airlines President and Chief Operating Officer Masaru Onishi and Cathay Pacific's CEO Tony Tyler both expressed confidence in the future success of the codeshare expansion.  Both airlines are members of the Oneworld airline alliance.  The codeshare expansion is scheduled to begin on October 31, and is still "subject to government approval."

Japan Airlines was formed in 1951, and is the flag carrier of Japan.  Japan Airlines has hubs at both major airports in the Tokyo area, business-oriented Haneda International near the city center, and suburban Narita International.  Its corporate headquarters is in the Shinagawa area of Tokyo.

Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, and was founded in 1946 by American and Australian former Air Force pilots.  Its largest hub is at Hong Kong International, and its main offices are in a building at the airport called Cathay Pacific City.

original story (Japan Airlines)

Thursday
Sep162010

United and Continental shareholders vote on merger tomorrow

Shareholders of United Airlines and Continental Airlines will vote tomorrow on whether or not to approve the merger of the two airlines, the fourth-largest and fifth-largest respectively, based in the United States, by number of passengers carried.  The result is expected to be in the affirmative.  If approved as expected, the transaction, involving 3.2 billion USD of stock, is scheduled to close on October 1.  The merger will create the world's largest airline, a distinction currently held by United States-based Delta Airlines, whose merger with Northwest Airlines was finished earlier this year.  Integration of the two airlines following October 1 "is expected to take 18 months or more," according to an article on the subject posted today to the Wall Street Journal Online.

United Airlines ultimately traces its origins to 1926, and to an air mail service founded by Walter Varney, and called Varney Air Lines.  Boeing Air Transport was founded a year later, by William Boeing.  In 1931, Varney and Boeing merged their companies to create United Airlines.  United flies a fleet of 360 aircraft to 73 domestic destinations and 41 international destinations.  United Airlines and and its subsidiaries together fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents, a distinction the airline only laid claim to earlier this year when it inaugurated its first ever service to the Ghanaian capital of Accra.  United Airlines' hubs are located in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago, Illinois.  Its main offices are located in Chicago.  Its largest hub is O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORD; ICAO: KORD) northwest of downtown Chicago.

The airline now called Continental Airlines was also founded by Walter Varney.  It commenced operations in 1934 as Varney Speed Lines.  It changed its name to Continental Airlines three years later.  Continental and its subsidiaries fly to 130 domestic destinations and 132 international destinations.  It and its subsidiaries also fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents.  Continental Airlines' hubs are in Houston, Texas; Cleveland, OhioNewark, New Jersey; and on the American-owned island of Guam.  Its main offices are located in Houston.  Its largest hub is George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IATA: IAH; ICAO: KIAH), an airport 20 miles north of downtown Houston re-named for the 41st President of the United States in 1997.

The historical significance of this proposed merger could well be lost on the participants.  The airline resulting from this merger will be called United Airlines, but will use the logos of Continental Airlines.  The parent company of the resulting airline will be called United Continental Holdings, Inc.  The airline will be based in Chicago, but will eventually be run by Continental management.

related stories

Continental jobs will stay in Cleveland for five years (September 16, 2010)

Department of Justice approves United-Continental merger (August 27, 2010)

Congressional hearings held on United-Continental merger (June 17, 2010)

original story (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday
Sep162010

Continental jobs will stay in Cleveland for five years

United Airlines has agreed to refrain from phasing out jobs at the Continental Airlines hub of Cleveland, Ohio, for five years following an agreement made with officials in the state, including state Attorney General Richard Cordray.  In connection with the merger of Continental into United, Ohio had been pursuing an anti-trust case against United, which the state has agreed to drop in exchange.  "Continental employs more than 2,000 workers" at Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland (IATA: CLE; ICAO: KCLE).

Violations of the agreement between United Airlines and Ohio are enforceable in federal court in that state, according to Cordray.  According to the agreement, violations of it by United could cost the airline as much as $20 million.

United Airlines ultimately traces its origins to 1926, and to an air mail service founded by Walter Varney, and called Varney Air Lines.  Boeing Air Transport was founded a year later, by William Boeing.  In 1931, Varney and Boeing merged their companies to create United Airlines.  United flies a fleet of 360 aircraft to 73 domestic destinations and 41 international destinations.  United Airlines and and its subsidiaries together fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents, a distinction the airline only laid claim to earlier this year when it inaugurated its first ever service to the Ghanaian capital of Accra.  United Airlines' hubs are located in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago, Illinois.  Its offices are located in Chicago.

The airline now called Continental Airlines was also founded by Walter Varney.  It commenced operations in 1934 as Varney Speed Lines.  It changed its name to Continental Airlines three years later.  Continental and its subsidiaries fly to 130 domestic destinations and 132 international destinations.  It and its subsidiaries also fly to destinations on all six permanently inhabited continents.  Continental Airlines' hubs are in Houston, Texas; ClevelandNewark, New Jersey; and on the American-owned island of Guam.  Its offices are located in Houston.

related stories

Department of Justice approves United-Continental merger (August 27, 2010)

Congressional hearings held on United-Continental merger (June 17, 2010)

original stories

Merged United Air to keep Ohio jobs for 5 years (Reuters)

Cleveland: Hopkins Airport to remain Continental hub at least five years (WKYC Cleveland-Akron)

Continental And United Provide Commitment to Cleveland (Continental Airlines)

Continental and United Provide Commitment to Cleveland (United Airlines)

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