I fear my relationship with Diio by Cirium is becoming unhealthy. Every Friday night, I run to Diio to learn about that week’s airline schedule changes, but Diio remains emotionless. Maybe I’m asking too much, but that won’t quell my burning desire to spend every weekend with the website. This seems even more mad when you consider how depressing the data is. Cuts, cuts, and more cuts filled the news this weekend.
Most of this week’s cuts are for August and September, but there were a couple of interesting longer-term moves as well from both JetBlue and American. There is much to discuss, so let’s just go in alphabetical order and run down what’s happening.
American Whacks August and Longer Term in LA
We knew this was coming. In its earnings call, American noted that its strategy to add a lot of flights in June and early July was working. In fact, its cash burn of “only” $30 million a day in June was better than expected thanks to those moves. But demand has taken a turn for the worse, and that means the aggressive run had to end.
American has now cut more than 11 percent of its planned flights in August. There were 106 routes that were expected to have service in August, but they no longer will. Meanwhile, another 122 had a reduction in frequency. Here’s how this looks by hub.
Chicago and Miami took the biggest hits with DFW also up there, but this is an even more stark contrast than it may appear. For places like LA, Phoenix, and DFW, there’s a lot of Hawai’i, Mexico, and Canada involved. Meanwhile, Miami, despite some Caribbean cuts, along with O’Hare, LaGuardia, and National are largely domestic where you’d hope there’d be more demand. Also, note that the numbers don’t add up on the frequency cuts, because there were some hub-to-hub routes that were counted twice.
In general, this looks like American just pulling back to serving cities from fewer hubs. For example, Asheville in North Carolina will still have 4 or 5 flights a day to Charlotte and 1 a day to DFW, but it will lose the O’Hare and Philly flights that American hoped to run in August.
While this was the big news, American did sneak in some long-term changes. This is where I think the airline is playing with fire. American will stop flying from Los Angeles to Eugene, Fresno, Louisville, Medford, Redmond/Bend, and San Diego. To compensate, it will go from 1 to 2 daily flights from Phoenix to Eugene, Medford, and Redmond/Bend.
Why is this playing with fire? Well, remember that Alaska and American now have a partnership, and Alaska recently added several of the routes that are being cut by American including Eugene, Fresno, Medford, and Redmond/Bend. The airlines aren’t allowed to coordinate, and I doubt they did. But DOT is likely watching this with interest.
Delta Shaves August, Trims September
Delta decided to shave a point and a half percent of August flights while cutting September another 6+ percent. Only 5 routes lose service entirely in August and one, Atlanta to Nassau is presumably because of the re-adding of restrictions on American travelers. Other than that, JFK to DFW goes away, but LaGuardia is still there. Then there’s Atlanta to San Jose, Cincinnati to Los Angeles, and Kansas City to LaGuardia that get the axe.
Another 46 routes, however, see reductions. Eighteen of those are in Atlanta with many going south of the border but not all. The only other significant hub seeing cuts is New York with 12 routes split between JFK and LaGuardia.
September, however, is a different story. There were 44 routes the airline hoped would operate in September, but now they won’t. Another 206 routes see frequency cuts. Many of these cuts are international which saw a third of its flights cut including a whole bunch of Europe, but there are two hubs that saw substantial domestic cuts.
Remember how Boston was coming back strong? No it’s not. A whopping 12 Boston routes that Delta planned would come back are gone and another 5 routes are losing frequency. Six of the route drops are at LaGuardia and 19 routes lose frequency from there.
Frontier Continues to Cut Back
I’ve talked about Frontier a lot previously, and things continue to be ugly. August now has 17 percent fewer flights while September has 14 percent fewer. It’s just more of the same with those guys.
JetBlue Takes a Knife to August and September Schedules With a Little Long-Term Growth
Seeing the writing on the wall, JetBlue has given up on trying to run a more full schedule in August and September. It cut August flights by an additional 25 percent. It was going to grow its flights by 40 percent over July but now it will only grow by 5 percent.
JetBlue’s first whack at the September schedule sees big cuts as well. It will now hope to grow flights by 25 percent over the new August schedule, but that seems aggressive for such a soft month for travel in general. We’ll have to keep on eye on that.
In the long run, however, JetBlue is trying out a little growth.
- JFK to Albuquerque becomes daily service
- JFK to Atlanta goes from 2 daily to 4 daily
- JFK to Chicago/O’Hare goes from 2 daily to 4 daily
- JFK to Denver goes from 1 daily to 2 daily
- JFK to Houston/Intercontinental goes from 1 daily to 2 daily
- JFK to Phoenix goes from 1 daily to 2 daily
- JFK To Raleigh/Durham goes from 2 daily to 4 daily
- JFK to Sacramento goes from sub-daily to having an additional daily flight
Some of these may be about trying to strengthen flying for the American partnership, but do note there are also some efforts to grow in other airline hubs. I wonder if this American deal makes JetBlue feel more bullish about its ability to compete in all those markets.
Southwest Rethinks Its September and October Plans
During its earnings call, Southwest said it probably wouldn’t get back to full capacity by year-end any longer, and this weekend, it took steps to pull things down in September and October.
I know I said there wasn’t really good news here, but I lied. Long Beach to Phoenix and August move up a couple months to start earlier! Ok, nobody cares. Got it. Overall, here’s a look at what Southwest did.
In September, the airline is removing 24 routes from the schedule, and there is a clear trend here:
What goes away? A lot of Florida and a lot of longer hauls. But there is a little growth as well, it’s mostly, I believe, moving forward launches of routes planned later.
Beyond that, 70 routes saw frequency increases and 339 had decreases. I don’t need to give you the rundown on each one, but it’s spread pretty far and wide. Here’s a look at one of the Southwest focus cities so you get an idea.
You see a lot more red lines than green ones here, and it’s the same everywhere. Meanwhile, October looks like it’s finally trying to sync up with the rest of the schedule. October was previously set to be bigger than November because it was put together in a previous schedule. It has now been taken down but still represents an upward trend over September.
November and December will be taken down, but they haven’t been cut yet. Keep your eyes open for that one.
United Takes August Down More Than 6 Percent
United, like the others, had indicated that it was seeing weakness and would pull down August further. It has done that with more than 6 percent of flights disappearing.
Only twelve routes won’t operate, and most are to places like the Bahamas or Canada where the return of travel from the US is delayed. The exceptions are Newark to Burlington, Kansas City, and Syracuse alongside San Francisco to Washington/National. But if we look at the frequency reductions, a pretty clear picture gets painted.
Newark is taking the brunt of the cuts. What United hoped to bring back has now been reversed. Houston is next on the list, but much of that goes south of the border, so it’s a different situation.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for next week when my torried, one-side love affair with Diio continues.