This week on Skeds of air Lines, that Texan cowboy — Southwest — decided the time had come to face reality and make a move. But that was pretty much all of the big action at the O.K. Corral. Everyone else went back to the saloon to think about what’s next, giving Cirium a much-needed breather.
That’s not to say there weren’t some interesting little tidbits here and there. But, before we get to those, let’s start with Southwest.
Southwest Says So Long to September
Up until this week, Southwest was going to run about three-quarters of the number of flights in September that it ran last year. That has now been slashed more than 15 points to 57 percent. Here’s what the year looks like.
As you can see, this is Southwest at its lowest point versus prior year since June. And since September is already a weaker month, this means it is really pulling things down significantly.
There are an incredible 128 routes that were going to operate Sept 9-15 that now will not. (That’s my representative week for the month.) Is this concentrated anywhere in particular? Not really.
It’s just a wholesale pulldown. And there are another 294 routes that lose frequency. That’s not to say there aren’t bright spots. Both LA to New Orleans and Birmingham to Denver come back with daily service. In addition, 58 routes have additional frequency. Of those, however, only 9 routes actually get a daily flight increase or more. This looks like it goes back to the skeleton May schedule when Southwest became more hub-like in order to focus on maintaining connectivity despite the massive cut in flights.
Oh, and one last note. Southwest quietly snuck in an extension on Honolulu – San Diego. It was only in the schedule through October 31, but now it’s there into January which is as far out as Southwest goes right now. This, of course, relies on Hawai’i ever opening up again.
Alaska’s Last Minute August Trim
If you just checked your phone, you probably realized that yes, we are indeed in August already. But Alaska pulled down almost 4 percent of flights this month. A look at the routes shows some interesting trends.
Of the 23 routes seeing frequencies cut, only San Diego to Maui goes away entirely for the month. That’s understandable. Another 9 routes are big north-south runs like Seattle to San Francisco or San Diego. There’s a little bit of Mexico, Canada, and Alaska (from LA) alongside some smaller routes in the Pac NW. But what really stood out to me was that JFK to San Francisco is going down from 1 daily to only 3 weekly. Ouch.
On the bright side, Alaska has decided to take a swing at Santa Barbara to San Diego. The single daily flight starts Nov 20.
Delta Kills Two Routes for Good
Delta has decided to do some late summer cleaning with a few pulldowns in the next couple of months. There are 24 routes seeing shrinkage in Latin America and the Caribbean. That’s just reacting to demand and ever-shifting entry restrictions. There are another 6 New York routes getting pruned. But this isn’t the interesting part of the story.
It looks like Delta has decided to permanently cancel Austin to Cincinnati and Albuquerque to Minneapolis/St Paul. Those were already suspended and now they’re out. I do also see Delta going from 1 to 3 daily frequencies well into the future for Mexico City from both JFK and Los Angeles. I wonder if this is taking over some service from Aeromexico.
Allegiant and Spirit Make Tweaks
Both Allegiant and Spirit have made some cuts, but they aren’t all that severe. The biggest change is that Spirit is whacking 5 percent of September flights on top of the flying it already cut that month. Instead of 46.2 percent of last year’s schedule, Spirit will run 43.7 percent now.
Meanwhile, Allegiant has trimmed a bit off the next couple months. August saw 1.7 percent of flights cut down, and that was the biggest of any month. It’s a lot of Florida (or, a large percent of a little) and a bit of Vegas.
United Pulls Hong Kong, Adds Small Markets
United also took this week to do a little housekeeping. Most notably, United pulled all Hong Kong flights through September. You’ll recall that United was particularly proud that it was going to start flying Chicago to Hong Kong in September. Now it’s not. This presumably is related to the onerous testing rules for flight crews that had the pilots balk. Hopefully this eventually gets worked out, but I’m not so sure it will happen anytime soon.
United also took some time to pull back in Latin/Caribbean markets, especially Central America and Lima. But it’s also adding some flights for the long run.
- Houston to Chattanooga starts up October 1 followed by Abilene on October 21
- Denver gets a flight to Alamosa on October 1 and heads to Sioux City on October 14,
- Denver steals one of Chicago’s three daily flights to Rochester (MN) starting October 1
That’s a wrap for this week. We’ll see if any airlines wake up from their slumbers on the next episode of Skeds of air Lines.