More Cuts, Hawaiian Prepares for Reopening, A Handful of New Routes

Schedule Changes

Welcome back. The Eskimo has been busy shrinking in October, but it is not alone. Nay. The Eagle, the Widget, and the Heart have all made cuts of their own. But some are more targeted than others.

It’s not all bad news. Pualani has been anxiously awaiting the day she could receive visitors in her home state, and that day now appears to be on the horizon. She is actively — but cautiously — preparing. Meanwhile, several others have been scheming for a longer term recovery with a variety of new ideas, some that target others’ turf in Airlineville.

All this and more in this week’s episode. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Skeds of air Lines.

Alaska Cuts in the Northwest, Add New Routes Against JetBlue

October was already cut significantly, but Alaska is still trimming. Some of these cuts make sense. Canada, for example, was pulled down once it was announced that the border would remain closed for yet another month. Flights to Hawai’i were also trimmed since the place won’t open up until mid-October at the earliest. But there was more than that.

In October, Alaska is cutting frequencies on routes like Seattle to JFK and San Francisco; Portland to Austin, Missoula, and Spokane; Los Angeles to Santa Rosa; and San Francisco to JFK. In better news, Vegas to Seattle sees a sizable increase in frequency in October. But what’s more interesting are the new routes being introduced from December 17.

  • Los Angeles to Cancun (1x daily until April 12) and Reno (1x daily, no end)
  • Palm Springs to Boise and Reno (1x daily in each until April 12) along with San Jose (2x daily until May 20, then 1x daily through summer)

Those LAX routes happen to be ones that JetBlue just announced it would start flying. Nobody is going to let JetBlue get a toe-hold in this market. Palm Springs is more about opportunity presenting itself as the city sees hopes of high demand.

Allegiant Pulls November Down

It wasn’t a huge cut, but Allegiant’s November schedule was cut by 9.5 percent (in terms of flights). Several frequencies were cut, but 18 routes will go away the entire month.

  • Austin – Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis
  • Fort Walton Beach – Knoxville
  • Jacksonville – Indianapolis, Norfolk
  • Las Vegas – San Antonio
  • Myrtle Beach – Cincinnati, Newburgh
  • New Orleans – Grand Rapids, Louisville
  • Orlando/Sanford – Albany
  • Punta Gorda – Richmond
  • Sarasota – Knoxville
  • Savannah – Newburgh
  • West Palm Beach – Concord (NC), Knoxville, Memphis

American Delays Latin and Seattle, Adds Outdoor and Mexico

I wouldn’t have expected this to be a busy weekend for American, but it sure was. In October, American has cut back frequencies on a variety of routes, but it also added some new leisure routes for the long run.

First, American has previously mentioned it was axing service to 15 small cities on October 1, and it finally filed the schedules. Only 11 cities will get cut for now. Roswell (NM) and Stillwater (OK) have gotten their way out of trouble. Meanwhile, Joplin (MO) and Sioux City (IA) have had their deaths deferred while American looks for regulatory approval.

In Latin America, American has pushed DFW – Lima, JFK – Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, and Miami – Rio from an October 24/25 restart to a December 17/18 restart. And in Seattle, all the growth American planned to roll out in October has now been pulled back. That means frequency reductions everywhere, but it also means Seattle service to LA and Miami won’t begin at all until November at the earliest.

In the longer run, we have some increases in Mexico/Caribbean frequencies, but we also see a bunch of new routes entering the schedule.

  • Charlotte to Bozeman (1x daily Dec 17 – Apr 5), Jackson Hole (1x weekly Dec 19 – Apr 3), and Montrose (1x weekly Dec 19 – Jan 2)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth – La Paz Mexico (1x weekly starts Dec 19), Loreto Mexico (1x weekly Dec 19 – May 1), and San Salvador (1x daily starts Nov 5)
  • Phoenix – La Paz Mexico (3x weekly from Dec 19) and Loreto Mexico (4x weekly Dec 17 – May 3)

Lastly — despite the growth in all these outdoorsy markets — Boston to Jackson Hole , which was going to operate this winter, is now gone.

Delta Holiday Tweaks, Launches New LA Flights

Delta continues to remain relatively quiet, but it did move some flights up, push others back, and launch a couple new ones.

Let’s start with the short-haul new or accelerated routes. There are a few moves to bulk up frequencies during the winter holidays to beach destinations. I won’t detail those here since most unsurprising. It’s also natural to see the building of flights from the Atlanta hub to outdoor destinations, but LA to Fresno and Palm Springs are strange adds.

  • Atlanta – Boise 1x daily starts Nov 20
  • Atlanta – Reno 1x daily starts Nov 20
  • Atlanta – Spokane 1x daily starts Nov 20
  • Boston – Cancun start moved up from Dec 19 to Nov 20
  • Detroit – Bloomington/Normal 5x weekly starts Oct 11 (currently only served from Atlanta)
  • Los Angeles – Fresno 1x daily starts Nov 20
  • Los Angeles – Palm Springs 1x daily starts Nov 20
  • Los Angeles – Reno 1x daily starts Nov 20 in advance of original 2x daily Dec 19 start date
  • New York/LaGuardia – Sarasota 1x daily starts Nov 20 in advance of original 2x daily Dec 19 start date

There are a couple cuts too. Delta is finally, mercifully, pulling out of Worcester (MA), leaving that airport empty. Also, the Atlanta to Westchester restart has been pushed to January 1.

Internationally, it’s a bit more muddled with frequency cuts on several routes through the winter.

  • Atlanta – Buenos Aires and Quito restarts have been pushed from October to December 18.
  • Atlanta – Lagos has been delayed from an October re-start to November, but then it will bulk up to daily.
  • JFK – Barcelona, Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid, and Rome along with Boston – London each lose one weekly frequency through the winter.
  • JFK – Brussels and Zurich along with Paris – Seattle were supposed to restart in October, but now that’s delayed until November. They’ll operate only 3x weekly through the winter after that.
  • JFK – Milan is a winner here with 1 extra weekly frequency through the winter.
  • Minneapolis – Amsterdam is another winner. It wasn’t supposed to start until the summer season begins on March 27, but 3x weekly service will now start on October 25.

Hawaiian Prepares for Tourism to Return

The state of Hawai’i says it will allow visitors with a negative COVID test to come visit without quarantine beginning October 15. Whether that holds or not is unknown, but Hawaiian is preparing for that possibility.

In the first half of October, Hawaiian resumes its first international route with very infrequent Honolulu – Tokyo/Narita flights. All other international has been canceled through the month of October.

On the domestic front, Honolulu sees the return of Las Vegas flights and Kahului gets its flying back to other neighbor islands in early October. Then in the back half of October, the full domestic network returns at varying frequencies. We’ll see if that’s a placeholder or not in the coming weeks.

Southwest Cuts Hawai’i in October, Builds Up Elsewhere

It wasn’t a busy week for Southwest, but the airline did decide to cut Hawai’i flying through the month of October. Only Honolulu – Oakland and interisland markets will operate. It also pulled Havana flights.

Meanwhile, it added frequencies into Florida and on some intra-West routes like Phoenix – Salt Lake and Vegas – Sacramento.

United Adds LaGuardia – Palm Beach

United did very little this week, but it did add in flights from New York/LaGuardia to West Palm Beach during the peak holiday season. It also cut frequencies in several West Coast markets, primarily touching Oregon and California.

That’s it for this week’s episode. Stay tuned next week for more Skeds of air Lines.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

15 comments on “More Cuts, Hawaiian Prepares for Reopening, A Handful of New Routes

  1. Since JetBlue got mentioned as part of AS’s route announcement, I will just indicate how much JetBlue’s recent LAX additions are flying in October vs scheduled amount and what their competitors are flying

    LAX-SFO 2x daily (no reduction, AA only at 2x and WN only at 3x)
    LAX-LAS 2x daily (no reduction, AA only at 1x and UA only as 2x)
    LAX-AUS 4x weekly vs 1 daily (about same as competitors, only DL is at more than 1x daily)
    LAX-SEA 4x weekly vs 1 daily (UA at 2x, everyone else more)
    LAX-RNO 4x weekly vs 1 daily (only competition 1x WN and 1-2x UA)
    LAX-SLC 1x vs 2 daily (AA/WN/UA all at 1x)
    LAX-EWR peak 3 daily vs 3 to 5 daily (just 1 less than UA on peak days)

    So from what I can see, their schedule out of LAX right now is competitive with what some of their competitors are running. And I think that when demand comes back, they will be increasing their schedule to places like SFO/LAS/SLC.

    Also, I don’t put that much stock into what airlines are announcing as frequencies at the moment. Just adding markets as daily shows where their priorities are. So for DL, LAX is a clear area they want to grow and that makes sense given AA/UA pullback there. AS is also growing which makes sense given their AA partnership.

    I see AS’s LAX-CUN add as a short term play for cash based on where demand is at the moment. Demand to CUN and Mexico in general have been one of the few bring spots.

    1. The interesting part to watch is what gates they end up using. LAX pre-covid was gate constrained. Assuming JetBlue does take advantage of this situation and jumps at the opportunity to expand in LAX, what gates do they expand into and will they have to give up these gates when traffic returns to pre-covid levels.

      1. They will stay in T5. I’m assuming NK/F9/G4/SY/HA are all moving out to MSC. B6 really did not want to move there. AA should have 5 of its own gates in T5. JetBlue had 2 and I heard they got at least 4 more. The remaining 4 I assume are CUTE. If it’s just down to B6 & AA in T5, there is a chance that JetBlue can take most of that access by the time they finish their announced buildup of 75 flights a day by 2025. They would need 6 gates + pretty aggressive usage of 4 CUTE gates to get to that size.

        I think depending on how big AA will be by 2025 at LAX, they may be able to claim all 10 non-AA gates. If AA is down to 125 to 150 flights, does it really need more than the 20 gates it has at T4/5 + whatever it has at TBIT? So, there could be even more room for them to expand down the road. We will see.

        JetBlue is always looking for more gate space at LAX. Maybe they can be the primary tenant of a new T-0 terminal?

  2. If Hawaiian is betting on the “alleged” reopening in October (I still think Hawaii might play Lucy and the football and postpone reopening a second time with that October reopen date), it might wind up being disappointed. Hawaii is not really reopening. Not if it’s going to have that 72 hour test restriction in place. That’s going to scare off a lot of people who aren’t willing to risk thousands of dollars on a vacation because they might be asymptomatic when they are tested and have to cancel last second…or worse…be stuck quarantined in a hotel for the duration of their trip. Those people are going to go where they can go freely without restriction. And Hawaii in October won’t be that.

  3. This head to head between B6 &AS could actually be a positive as they could join forces. If not a an outright merger, then an interline agreement as both are skimming routes off AA on their respective coasts.

  4. Hawaiian Airlines’ credit rating has been lowered a staggering 4 ratings levels since March, by far the worst in the industry. American looks healthy, in comparison to Hawaiian. It’s THAT bad.

    JetBlue will be bought at some point. To their credit, they are doing all that they can. In particular, American’s pain is JetBlue’s gain. Ditto for Alaska, except they have refrained from a “JetBluesian” expansion.

    A question for our gurus: Who will buy JetBlue? For anti-trust reasons, I doubt it could be Delta. Could it be United, thereby re-establishing JFK and BOS? Doubtful, like Delta, United already has an established NYC hub. Uncle Sam would disapprove. What about American? Definitely not in their current financial condition. But what if they reorganize under Chapter 11? A leaner, meaner American Airlines could attract enough venture capital to make a play for JetBlue. American’s diminished NYC, BOS, and SJU presence might pass the DOT/DOJ smell test. Or, would it flip-flop? Would JetBlue attempt a merger with a bankrupt American? Minnows have swallowed whales before. Could Robin do to Doug what Doug did to Don Carty??

    Fire away, experts!

    1. The issue with a legacy airline buying JetBlue is that many routes may not be profitable under a legacy cost structure. In addition, the balance sheets of legacy carriers are going to be awful coming out of covid so there are some that will not be able to afford to buy JetBlue.

      For example, using today’s valuations, American cannot afford to buy JetBlue. American’s market valuation has dropped so much that they are only 2X the size of JetBlue from a market valuation standpoint even though American has 7X the amount of revenue. American’s financial position is so bad that they could not afford to acquire/merge with JetBlue.

      The two airlines that are in the best shape financially to merge/acquire JetBlue would be Southwest or Alaska.

      1. Don’t disagree about AA’s financial position, but it’s worth mentioning that mergers/acquisitions can be done without any cash. Equity swaps would be a common way to do that sort of thing.

      2. The two airlines that are in the best shape financially to merge/acquire JetBlue would be Southwest or Alaska.

        I wonder what benefit WN would see in buying B6. AS on the other hand would make a lot more sense on several levels.

  5. Some good points above, particularly in reference to legacy balance sheets. With the leveraging of their SkyMiles program, Delta will have plenty of cash to pay their nearly $3 billion debt due next year. They are past immediate crisis and have now turned to strategic planning. They have plenty of cash and could be value-shopping. Alaska would be an attractive target and would most likely pass DOT/DOJ muster.

    A combination of JetBlue and Alaska would be a schedule planner’s Rubix Cube. How would they leverage the combined network? How would the combined entity serve the country’s mid-section?

    Southwest could have acquired JetBlue previously. Instead, they bought AirTran. But that is ancient history in today’s industry. Like Delta, Southwest has cash and access to more at favorable rates compared to the rest of the industry. Does it make sense for WN to acquire anyone when there may be plenty of low-hanging fruit available for free on the backside of the pandemic? On the other hand, a purchase of JetBlue makes WN the largest domestic carrier in BOS, JFK, BWI, MCO, FLL and SJU. It fills a huge void in WN’s network, especially in the NYC origination market. SWA would also be the second largest carrier in DCA and ATL. Suddenly, their East Coast presence is formidable. Icing on LUV’s cake would be the entry into yet another Delta stronghold, JFK. With little overlap on JetBlue’s routes, DOT/DOJ approval would seem likely.

    Plenty of intrigue here. Hopefully, more regular posters here will submit their thoughts.

    1. Keep in mind that JetBlue pilots have protection against any merger and they are quite happy where JetBlue is at the moment.
      For JetBlue merger partners:

      DL – not a possibility

      UA – on the surface, a great possiblity since the 2 networks complement really well. However, UA even with B6 slots would not have enough slots at LGA/JFK to compete with DL. Which means, DL would slaughter such a union over time. B6 only does so well at JFK due to its focus on leisure and its lower cost. What made sense for UA and B6 was a codeshare partnership like the one B6/AA agreed to but for the entire network.

      AA – this makes the most sense out of Big 3, but AA doesn’t have the money to do so. Also, no JetBlue pilot would want the mess that is AA right now. Under normal circumstances, this makes the most sense since AA would have enough slots at LGA/JFK to compete with DL. It would also dominate in BOS and get rid of a competitor in South Florida.

      WN – this is the only one that makes some sense and JetBlue pilots would agree to. The problem is that I don’t think WN can properly value JetBlue at the moment. JetBlue’s most valued assets are its JFK slots/gate space. I can’t imagine WN would pay a premium for that given its own business model.

      AS – long speculated merger due to DL pressure on both sides. JetBlue pilots would not agree to a merger here without some kind of cap on AS scope. That might be a deal breaker. Given that both airlines have got the better end of a deal with AA. The incentive for them to merge is probably at an all time low.

      Think about it this way for JetBlue for the next 5 years.
      1) They have a terminal expansion plan at JFK which will give them more space than DL. Now with AA partnership, they will likely have more slots than DL at JFK. That’s really valuable.
      2) They will have enough slots at LGA to make a serious play at major corporate clients in NYC area.
      3) They will have enough gate space at EWR to be a true competitor to UA. Which means they will be relevant in NY and NJ.
      4) Enough gate space with AA help at BOS to have 250 to 300 flight operation.
      5) With WN pulling back at FLL, they could potentially have enough gate space at FLL to have a real hub there in a few years.
      6) they will have enough gate space at LAX to finally have a west coast “hub/focus city”

      JetBlue has not had this many expansion opportunities for years. What kind of offer will it need to receive to make it want to merge with someone? Especially considering how valuable the JFK space is.

      1. FC…..As usual, a reasoned reply from you. Two quick points on B6/WN: 1) Neither JetBlue’s nor Southwest’s Board Of Directors really cares what their respective pilot groups desire. In the event of an acquisition of B6 by WN, SWAPA would be the surviving pilot representation entity, not ALPA (same as the AirTran purchase). The two pilot groups would have to negotiate an integrated seniority list. ….. And: 2) Don’t write SWA’s FLL obituary prematurely. Southwest paid for Terminal A, so it’s doubtful they will abandon it. Yes, they will open MIA, but that’s a little cash grab….for now. It makes sense from a network perspective for SWA to pull feed from FLL for now as they have suspended HAV, GCM, PLS, PUJ, AUA, and BZE service. Once the international flights are reinstated, I would expect the domestic feed to also resume.

      2. JetBlue has not had this many expansion opportunities for years. What kind of offer will it need to receive to make it want to merge with someone? Especially considering how valuable the JFK space is.

        All good points FC, but I would add that As fills a few wholes in B6’s network as they build LAX up for the future & AA dismantles it’s operation there. Remember AA is retreating from the number 1 & 2 markets to it’s safe havens of CLT, DFW & PHX.

    2. Actually WN is already the second largest carrier at DCA. Never thought I’d say that ten years ago!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier