-- NEW AT AIRPORTS
The cap on flights at Chicago O'Hare— one of the nation's most delay-plagued airports — was lifted last week, allowing the airport to increase service. The Federal Aviation Administration set the cap, which limited the airport to 88 flights per hour, to expire at the end of October 2008 in anticipation of a new runway that will open on Nov. 20. Don't expect a sudden increase in flights though, because many of the airlines, including United and American, are cutting back at O'Hare and will likely not ratchet up their operations until economic conditions improve.
The 7,500-foot runway will accommodate more flights during bad weather and help reduce the average delay at the airport to 16 minutes from the current 24 minutes, says Rosemarie Andolino, executive director of O'Hare Modernization Program. The northernmost runway will make its debut along with its own new control tower, necessary given the runway's remoteness from the terminal.
The runway and the tower are part of the first phase of the $8 billion modernization that's been ongoing since 2005. When the entire project is completed by 2014, O'Hare will have eight runways (vs. six now), a new terminal and an extension of its people-mover rail. Its capacity will increase to about 1.2 million passengers per year (vs. 925,000 in 2007), the FAA estimates.
Toronto Pearson International has opened its first passenger lounge available to all passengers. For $35 a day, travelers get wireless Internet, printers and flat-screen TVs, plus food and beverages. It's located in the international pier of Terminal 1.
•British Airways: New daily service between New York Kennedy and London Gatwick began on Oct. 26, using Boeing 777s.
•Lufthansa: New all-business-class winter service — using Boeing 737s with 44 seats — between Boston and Munich, Germany, began on Oct. 26 and will end on March 28. Also on Oct. 26, Lufthansa launched a daily non-stop Dusseldorf, Germany-Miami route, using an Airbus A340.
•Delta:New non-stop daily service between Hartsfield Atlanta and India's Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International started on Saturday, using Boeing 777s.
FIGURES AND DATA
The average domestic fare of $352 in the second quarter of 2008 was the highest for any quarter since the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics began keeping track in 1995. The average fare, based on round-trip or one-way tickets purchased, was 8.1% higher than a year ago.
Cincinnati remains the most expensive U.S. airport, with an average fare of $595. It was followed by Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C. ($568) and Knoxville, Tenn. ($524). Dallas Love Field remains the least expensive ($221), followed by Burbank, Calif. ($252) and Houston Hobby ($256).
International air passenger traffic in September fell 4% from a year ago, according to the Airport Council International. Traffic in the Asia-Pacific region, the largest international passenger market, fell 6.6% on average as many large cities saw double-digit declines: Incheon, South Korea (-12.6%); Shanghai (-16%); Taipei, Taiwan (-14%); and Bangkok (-20%). Europe was down 3%. The only region recording an overall increase for the month was the Middle East, up 2.4%.