Tuesday, January 24, 2017

First low-cost Asian airline cleared for flights to the U.S.

HONG KONG (CNNMoney) -- Get ready to squeeze on board for low-cost flights between the U.S. and Asia.

Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia says it's gotten the all clear from U.S. authorities to fly its jetliners to American airports -- the first low-cost Asian airline to do so.

Founded by charismatic businessman Tony Fernandes, AirAsia pioneered the low-cost model in Asia, delivering rapid growth as it undercut bloated legacy carriers in the region with its no frills approach.

The U.S. flights will be operated by its long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X, which currently focuses on destinations in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

The airline says it's considering flights to several U.S. states including Hawaii. It's hoping it will have more success in the U.S. than it did in Europe, where it abandoned flights to London and Paris in 2012 because of weak demand.

For U.S. travelers who are willing to pass up some of the comforts of international flights, AirAsia's services could offer a cheaper route to Asia.

AirAsia X operates a fleet of Airbus A330-300s fitted out with 365 economy seats and -- for those willing to spend more -- 12 "premium flatbeds," a kind of low-cost business class. Economy passengers currently pay extra for things like meals and baggage allowance.

AirAsia's safety reputation took a hit in 2014 when a plane operated by its Indonesian affiliate crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board. Indonesian investigators blamed the pilots' response to a technical malfunction for the disaster.

AirlineRatings.com gives AirAsia Indonesia just two out of a possible seven stars for safety -- but AirAsia X fares better with six out of seven. That's more than some U.S. low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines, but less than top international carriers like United and Qantas.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about AirAsia's U.S. plans.

Source:   http://www.nbc-2.com

Joplin Regional Airport (KJLN) to get upgraded jets for Dallas flights: New planes will expand seat capacity

Larger, upgraded jets will be available to air travelers at the Joplin Regional Airport beginning next month.

American Eagle, part of American Airlines, will begin using the CRJ-700 in mid-February. The new planes will mean an increased capacity for the daily nonstop flights in and out of the local airport to Dallas.

The current jets seat 46 passengers while the CRJ-700 seats 66, Joplin Regional Airport manager Steve Stockam said last week. He called the step a “natural progression” in an effort to solve the problem of limited availability due to low-capacity flights.

"It’s somewhat of a struggle sometimes to get a flight out of Joplin because there are no seats available. So we’ve been working with American Airlines to either add another flight or more seats somehow.”

Stockam said American Airlines also plans to provide an additional upgrade to a jet called a CRJ-900, which will have a seating capacity of 76, as soon as April. Both the CRJ-700 and CRJ-900 are dual-class aircraft, meaning they will offer both business-class and first-class seating.

“As we go into the summer months — the high-peak travel season — that really provides a good amount of additional seats in and out of Joplin for our customers,” Stockam said.

Stockam also said the airport remains in talks with American about expanding its offerings to include direct flights to Chicago, though no agreement is imminent.

“We will continue to work with American Airlines in trying to establish a Chicago connection,” he said. "We know we have a lot of passengers that want to go on to Chicago and of course go on to the East Coast.”

Airport costs

Manager Steve Stockam said the Joplin Regional Airport will have to spend approximately $30,000 on support equipment such as power supplies and ways to load drinking water in order to service the larger aircraft that will begin serving Joplin this year. He said the Joplin City Council is scheduled to take up a budget adjustment for the airport at its next meeting.

Source:   http://www.joplinglobe.com