AvGeeks loooooove liveries. An interesting livery is one of the main reasons we go planespotting – we head to the airport to see either a particular type of aircraft, or to see that aircraft wearing a special or unusual livery.
Edmond Huot, Northern Pacific Airways’ chief creative officer and airline designer, explained that “We were given a clean slate to design the livery, the collateral, and the name. I was given a lot of latitude, for sure, and that is the exception to the rule as projects typically come with a framework and the client might be more hands on.”
For the name of the new airline, Huot said he wanted a name that “had an inherent story to it, and I didn’t want a trendy name.”
“Northern was the first name we came up with, but the legal team came back and said we can’t do northern,” so the name eventually morphed into Northern Pacific Airways.
“The stress for me, in the world of airline design, is that you only get one or two kicks at the can, so I already knew up front we had to nail it – I did a lot of research into the factors that would influence the brand – people, regions, etc.
Naming projects are usually very tricky, and that’s when the pressure started. We actually came up with the idea on a plane flying back from a meeting with a different client.”
He continued that “The idea was to come up with a name that wasn’t typical of a LCC (low-cost carrier).”
How’s this for an AvGeek irony: it’s hard to planespot from a plane. Sure, while you’re on the ground there’s tons of aircraft around. But once you’re in the sky you’re zooming by other planes so rarely — and so quickly — that it’s hard to catch any of them. But one recent flight I took was a fun exception to that rule.
Thanks to a winter wave of employee COVID infections and a high-profile system meltdown, Jetblue had a tough past year from an operational perspective. But they rebounded from those issues, and their onboard economy product still shines strong — especially the free high-speed inflight internet (“Fly-Fi”).
Fly-Fi is one of JetBlue’s major points of differentiation, and they know it
To minimize touch points in the COVID era, you can use your smartphone to control the screen
Fly-Fi is a high-bandwidth satellite-powered system that’s now available across the fleet. It provides gate-to-gate connectivity so you could start using it from the moment you board. On my flight from New York to Mexico I waited to log on since there were great takeoff views to be had.
There has been a surge in international low-cost carrier (LCC) offerings, and in the past few months Northern Pacific, Norse Atlantic, and PLAY have all announced plans to commence service to the United States.
PLAY will launch service between the the north New York City metro area and 22 European destinations via its Reykjavik hub in late June of this year, using a fleet of three new Airbus A321neo and one A320neo aircraft, with five more jets on order from Airbus. Tickets for the new destination went on sale Feb. 1.
PLAY was founded by two former WOW executives in 2019. You’ll remember WOW as the Icelandic LCC that launched in 2012 and ceased operations in 2019 after cash-flow issues and two failed buyout attempts. The WOW legacy has influenced PLAY’s livery and LCC character.
PLAY’s New York metro destination is New York Stewart International Airport located in Newburgh, NY, and is the airline’s third United States destination, following Boston and Baltimore.
PLAY CEO Birgir Jónsson explained that the airline launched in 2021 and “has been on a fast growth path. Despite the turbulence of the last year in the travel industry, PLAY is an airline born in a new era of travel and is bringing a modernized approach to the airline industry.”
With flight bookings trending upward and a forecast for increased travel demand, PLAY decided to enter the U.S. market, targeting budget-minded vacationers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Jónsson said that, “even amid a dynamic market and the ongoing factors from COVID-19, PLAY has created opportunity growth, serving 24 locations, as well as securing favorable lease rates for our aircraft that will enable us to keep costs low. PLAY is focused on data-driven decisions about growth to new destinations, and New York is an important market in this expansion to enable both American and European travelers to reach new, iconic destinations at affordable prices.”
PLAY is aiming its services squarely at budget-minded travelers, students, and families, relying on affordable fares, reliable flights, convenience, and flexibility to do so. They’re offering no-frills base fares and an a la carte list of add-ons that either feels like a world of options or being nickel-and-dimed, depending on your point of view regarding airline service models. PLAY hasn’t announced any intention to join airline alliances as yet.
N8733M, a Southwest MAX departs LAX in September, 2021
Did you hear Southwest somewhat recently enriched their A-List perks by adding a long-desired feature? You might not have. I reached out to our friends at Southwest PR and it turns out there was no big announcement or PR campaign. They just sort of rolled it out and let folks discover it on their own. This latest benefit is something I had personally been wanting for years; problem is, now that they’ve rolled it out, I’m not sure that I still want it.
What’s this mysterious new perk? Click through to see for yourself…
We thought those animals on the Frontier Airlines livery were just hanging around looking cute. Turns out they were biding their time, plotting. And now they’ve made their move.
That otter definitely looks like the scheming type – Photo: Frontier Airlines
Frontier just announced its planned purchase of fellow ultra-low-cost-carrier Spirit Airlines. The result will be a low-cost juggernaut, ranking fifth in size among America’s airlines. One of our more prescient contributors, Steven Kimball, suggested this merger back in 2016. And from the airlines’ perspective the merger makes a lot of sense.
Obviously there’s the similarity in their approach to bare-fare pricing and bare-bones service. But also the all-Airbus narrowbody fleet, which will definitely contribute to a smoother merger and operational synergies. Both airlines operate the A320neo, and the new combined fleet will boast great fuel efficiency (cramming a ton of passengers into each plane also helps efficiency, I guess).
Image: Spirit Airlines
What’s the upshot for passengers? The airlines are trying to spin this as a positive, with Frontier loyalists getting better access to Spirit’s network in Central and South America, and Spirit-ers gaining more destinations in the western United States. The combined airline’s heft may help it better compete with the big four. At the same time, this means fewer individual airlines within the ULCC segment, which may drive up fares in that part of the market.
Also it’s no sure thing that the government will approve this plan. On one hand, the current administration has expressed a desire to keep inter-airline competition strong, and has been less friendly to mergers and partnerships. On the other hand, the administration is a little more embattled now and may not want to pick this fight. Or they may buy into the two airlines’ argument that a larger fifth player in the market is better for competition overall.