American Airlines launches bus service in the Philadelphia area

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American Airlines is launching a partnership to offer travelers connections between airports… by bus.

From June 3, the transport company Landline will connect Philadelphia International Airport, one of the American hubs, with Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) and Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) . Tickets for these journeys with landline service will be available from today.

“Our partnership with Landline is another way for our customers to easily connect to America’s premier transatlantic gateway in Philadelphia,” Brian Znotins, U.S. vice president of network planning, said in an airline press release. . “Customers can start and end their trip at their local airport, relax in a comfortable fixed vehicle, and leave the driving to someone else while they work or start their vacation early.”

Landline CEO and co-founder David Sunde said in an interview that the announcement “is really the culmination of many years of deteriorating regional air service to small communities or small mid-sized communities.”

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Travelers can book their bus trip through the airline when they set Lehigh Valley or Atlantic City as their origin or destination, according to Landline’s website. The price is included in their ticket.

Customers will check in with American at one of the local airports and go through security like any flight, but will board a fixed bus instead, the statement said. Upon arrival in Philadelphia, they will enter the terminal and proceed directly to their flight. In the other direction, they will board a fixed bus at the Philadelphia airport. All of this is pending regulatory approval.

The airline will transfer checked baggage between vehicles and aircraft. Members of American’s AAdvantage program will also earn miles and frequent flyer points on routes operated by Landline. The buses can accommodate up to 35 passengers and will be equipped with leather seats and free Wi-Fi, among other benefits.

Landline has similar partnerships with United Airlines in Colorado and Sun Country Airlines in seven markets in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to a separate company press release.

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Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, said he believes this type of partnership appeals to airlines largely because of the continued shortage of pilots. Without enough pilots, he said, airlines must focus their energy on larger airports and more profitable routes, which comes at the expense of smaller airports and less popular destinations.

“Something like a partnership with a landline, something like an air-bus connection, is kind of a smart way to be able to serve travelers who want to get to Atlantic City, who want to get to Allentown, in a more seamless way .than to just fly them to Philadelphia and say, ‘You’re on your own,'” Keyes said.

This type of partnership can also facilitate travel for customers, who would otherwise have to book each mode of transport separately. “Being able to have it all under one itinerary makes it a much easier experience for travelers, you know, not having to leave the terminal, not having to figure out where you need to go to catch the bus,” Keyes mentioned. . “It kind of works more hand in hand.”

While Sunde said factors such as staff shortages and fuel costs have made it more difficult to run any type of transport business, he points to the longer-term challenges facing short-haul flights. on small aircraft, an area of ​​air transport that has been particularly vulnerable to external shocks. .

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“I think it’s less of an in-the-moment statement and more of a statement about, ‘Hey, 10 years from now, how can we keep communities connected to the air travel system in a way that’s less vulnerable to crazy things happening? produce in the world, whether it’s fuel or anything else,” he said.

US spokesman Brian Metham said the airline was “always looking for ways to make it easier for customers to connect to our global network”.

“Some shorter routes may not make operational sense for an aircraft, but are ideal for landline telephony,” Metham said.

Keyes noted that this type of deal is more common in Europe and the Middle East, although United previously had a similar partnership with Amtrak. There is also a gateway across the border from the United States to Tijuana airport, where domestic flights into Mexico are cheaper. “This whole area of ​​combining multiple modes of transport is not new,” he said.

On short-haul segments, Sunde said, coaches are much more environmentally friendly than smaller planes. The cost of operating a bus is also “much” lower than that of an airplane, Keyes added. He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see American develop the model and other airlines take similar steps.

Sunde declined to comment on specific plans for growth, but said, “We see this as a very important issue that needs to be addressed for the U.S. transportation system, and we have the ambition to fix it. resolve in the broadest possible way.”

Melvin Z. Madore