A Very Busy Weekend as More November Cuts Roll In, Including Some Surprises

Schedule Changes

Welcome back. It was a hectic week in Airlineville with nearly every airline making their November cuts in this week’s Cirium schedule data. In addition, the Eskimo cut into transcons yet again while the Eagle ran away from Godzilla.

Even though the Widget had already made November plans, he decided to make some more changes this week, including some cuts in… Florida? Meanwhile, the Animal jumped ahead and filed its schedule for early December, but it still hasn’t made plans for the holidays.

Pualani cut deep through November despite the pending end of the quarantine requirement in her home. It takes time to recover from those deep wounds. The Heart took an axe to November and December while the Globe loaded some long-awaited new routes.

All this and more this week. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Skeds of Air Lines.

Alaska Cuts Transcon Again

No matter what Alaska does, it just can’t seem to get traction on transcons. Much of early November plans had been set, but transcon cuts came in again this week for that time period with Seattle – Atlanta, Austin (ok, that’s not a transcon), Boston, Newark, New York/JFK, Orlando, and Raleigh/Durham all losing one daily flight. Boston – San Francisco and Orlando – San Diego were also pulled down… to nothing.

Alaska also cut Thanksgiving travel. It looks like the current plan is to operate about two-thirds of the flights it ran last year.

American’s November Has a Few Surprises

American rolled out its November plan this week. Overall, November is around 55 percent of the flights operated last year with Thanksgiving only slightly higher than that. The airline has added a bunch of new routes in the month, but most were announced previously. Think of things like the new Phoenix and Miami flights. But there is one big surprise.

Remember all those small cities that American pulled out of as a threat if it couldn’t get more government money? Those are showing as operating again in the November schedule. I’d say one of two things is going on here.

  1. American is holding out hope that government money will still roll in, so it’s dangling these cuts like a carrot, or
  2. American admits its threat didn’t work, so it’s quietly walking away from the cuts.

Oh, and one last thing. American has slashed Tokyo/Haneda flying. It was supposed to resume a second daily flight from LAX and a first daily flight from DFW on October 24. Now, it has not only postponed those, but it has cut the first daily from LAX. There will be no Haneda operations until at least March 27, if it comes back then.

Delta Cuts Florida in November

Delta rolled out November plans last week, but it’s already making changes. Most notably, it’s cutting back on Florida frequencies. Overall, it’s about a 5 percent cut in seats. All of these lose anywhere from 1 to 3 daily flights:

  • Atlanta – Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa
  • Detroit – Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando, Tampa
  • Minneapolis/St Paul – Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando
  • New York/JFK – Miami, Tampa
  • New York/LaGuardia – Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando

This is still up compared to October by a whole lot, but it’s a quick cut back considering the original plan was only loaded last week.

Beyond that, transatlantic got tweaked in the winter just a bit. JFK to Brussels and Zurich are gone. On a brighter note, MSP – Amsterdam goes from 4x weekly to daily and both Atlanta – Frankfurt and JFK – Rome get one additional weekly flight each.

Frontier Dives Into December

Frontier doesn’t like doing full months, it seems. It had already cut through December 4, what it considers the end of the Thanksgiving season, I guess. But now it has set plans for December 5-17, the sad, quiet pre-holiday season. The airline will run 45 percent of the flights it had filed previously which is also about 45 percent of last year’s schedule. I expect the back half of December will be a whole lot busier.

Hawaiian Gets Conservative

With the mandatory quarantine requirement ending on October 15 for those going to Hawai’i who have negative COVID tests, Hawaiian was looking bullish. No longer. The airline has scaled back plans significantly through November.

Now, November only sees the return of Honolulu – Oakland, Phoenix, and San Jose along with LA – Kahului and a surprise international route: Honolulu – Seoul/Incheon. It’s a modest return to action that should give the airline time to judge demand before making December decisions.

One thing it isn’t waiting on, however, is Oceania. Honolulu to Auckland, Brisbane, and Sydney have all been canceled through the winter with a possible restart on March 27, if they’ll let Americans in then.

Southwest Takes Down November and December, Longer Term Moves

Southwest was very busy this week. It had filed November and December schedules early in the pandemic, hoping for a recovery. Now it knows that isn’t happening. November hovers around 45 to 55 percent of last year’s flights until Thanksgiving. Then it spikes up. Once that’s done, early December gets down closer to the 45 percent range. Then it spikes back up again over the winter holidays. Still, December cuts overall are heftier than November’s. This is a big hit to the airline’s previous hopes and dreams.

Out into the first quarter of 2021, Southwest is making some more interesting moves. Take a look at these new and bulked up routes:

  • Atlanta – Little Rock
  • Cincinnati – Houston, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa
  • Detroit – Houston
  • Minneapolis/St Paul – Houston, Las Vegas, Orlando
  • Salt Lake – Houston , Orange County

That’s quite a few Delta routes there. But wait, it’s not just Delta. Southwest is also doing Charlotte to Phoenix and St Louis along with several random non-hub routes like Hartford to Nashville.

United’s Atlantic Cuts Follow November Moves

United announced its November plans publicly, so I won’t spend much time on them. More interesting to me is that it has cut several long-haul routes through the winter season. None of these will operate:

  • Chicago/O’Hare – Munich, Paris/CDG, Zurich
  • Houston/Intercontinental – Munich
  • Los Angeles – London/Heathrow
  • Newark – Barcelona, Berlin, Edinburgh, Geneva, Lisbon, Madrid, Zurich
  • San Francisco – Dublin, Paris/CDG, Osaka
  • Washington/Dulles – Amsterdam, Geneva, Paris/CDG, Tokyo/Haneda

One last thing of note. It looks like United is leaving Santa Rosa starting December 1. Maybe it’ll come back in the summer schedule as planned, or maybe not. But now that the CARES Act has expired, United can leave if it wants.

And that’s it for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode.

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14 comments on “A Very Busy Weekend as More November Cuts Roll In, Including Some Surprises

  1. Cranky, I think Delta’s Florida cuts aren’t very noteworthy. For whatever reason DL didn’t adjust Florida frequencies in their original November schedule. As an example, ATL-MCO was still scheduled at 16 daily flights even up to last Friday.

  2. Note for AA management – don’t make threats unless you intend on following through with them. This is especially true when your employees & federal support are involved.

  3. AA is down to 2x on JFK-LAX for Nov and 1x on JFK-SFO. Still completely gone on BOS-LAX and not flying BOS-ORD/MIA on Tuesdays.

    NYC is down to hub + BOS/SFO for November again.

    What does LGA look like for AA a year from now? Do routes like LGA-RDU/PIT/BNA/ATL come back? I would’ve thought those are safe bets to come back before these months of not operating them, but that’s doubtful now. At this point, I’m not sure AA gets to 100 flight at LGA by this point next year.

    If AA doesn’t get its partnership with JetBlue worked out soon, it’s going to lose even more ff in NYC/BOS than it has already lost.

    1. “If AA doesn’t get its partnership with JetBlue worked out soon, it’s going to lose even more ff in NYC/BOS than it has already lost.”

      The fact that AA has given up most west coast flying to AS & the same for B6 on the east coast, tells me all I need to know on AA’s health of the company. It would be a little different if AA put more energy in building PHL prepandemic, but they really didn’t take that opportunity. And now they are stuck fighting a two pronged battle for survival I, e low demand over all & infiltration of most prime markets by other carriers.

    2. FC – I don’t think we can read anything into NYC stuff yet. There is a slot waiver in place through March, so there’s no real incentive to actually build up. The northeast has seen some of the worst demand trends in the country. Once the slot waivers lift, that’s when we can really see what they’re going to do.

  4. These are all rational, demand-driven adjustments by each carrier that reflects that the industry has, for now, received all of the government support it will receive. Most of November is low demand. WN’s schedule reflects that it is moving more towards a medium haul, hub-based network esp. from other carrier hubs.

    1. Don’t worry, this isn’t the assault on Delta that Southwest could have done quite easily by buying Sun Country during any of their bankruptcies, taking every gate in the Humphrey terminal, and destroying Delta’s yields in MSP. WN could have easily done 100 flights a day from MSP, with their own terminal and their own runway (12/30).
      No, this is just SWA connecting the dots in their network at the expense of Delta (ATL, MSP, SLC), United (Houston) and American (CLT, PHX). Expect more of this post-pandemic and there is nothing the Big 3 can do to stop it.

  5. Cranky, do you think the Widget Florida cuts have to do with Delta’s ability to compete there right now?
    Hear me out…

    1. A LOT of airlines are dumping capacity into Florida, including from some spokes that would’ve flown through ATL but now have nonstop service.
    2. Delta’s ability to command a premium with leisure travelers, particularly those going to Florida, would seem rather low. Florida has high -fare pax, but generally would seem to skew toward the lower end leisure traveler.
    3. Their ability to make money connecting through ATL when blocking 60-75% of capacity has to be much more limited when they’re competing against so much capacity and keeping the same trip costs.

    1. SEA – Well, it’s entirely possible, but I think it’s still really important to remember that this is only a net 5 percent decrease in seats. So it’s not like some massive cut or anything like that. But your theories all ring true to one extent or another, as far as I’m concerned.

      1. CF,

        Is it the percentage of seats gained/ lost between any two markets that matters or is it the points being connected/ severed that really requires the most attention. Just a single example – as you note AA has two flights between JFK & LAX & only one to SFO & yet there were nearly hourly flights prepandemic on these routes. That to me is what’s really telling & just how far we have fallen aviation wise.

        1. SEAN – Well, those are two heavy business routes that used a subfleet of airplanes that is just about the worst possible configuration for the current world (light on seats and heavily skewed toward premium cabin).
          The five flights scheduled tomorrow from LAX to JFK on the A321T will have a total of 50 First, 100 Biz, 180 Main Cabin Extra, and 180 coach. In November, there will be two 777s instead with 74 Biz, 48 prem econ, 132 Main Cabin Extra, and 292 coach. Overall, there are more seats on the two flights than there are on the 5 today, and there are far more coach seats.
          Since it’s mostly a leisure crowd these days, frequency doesn’t matter nearly as much. To me, this is just a natural move that makes sense. But yes, it does tell the overall story that business-heavy markets have been decimated.

  6. Of course, WN didn’t do as you suggested which says volumes about how well run both DL and WN are – and both know it.

    Schedules data for November show that DL’s capacity cuts in its own hubs are at or below the average of all carriers; other carriers including AA and UA have cut their data in Delta’s hubs much more than DL or WN. WN’s cuts in Delta hubs are deeper than Delta’s, even considering that Delta’s hubs all reflect deeper international capacity cuts.
    In all Southwest hubs/focus cities that are also in AA or UA hub city metro areas, AA and UA’s capacity cuts are much deeper than WN except for DAL and DFW where AA is at average in capacity cuts of all carriers for the combined two airports.

    In Florida to the US as a whole for November, Delta has cut less capacity than most other carriers including AA, UA, WN, and B6.

    Actual data shows that Delta is retaining more of its presence in its hubs, key markets and hubs than other carriers.

  7. I enjoy these updates, but you’ve got to throw B6 some attention! Not only do I work there, but they are the 5th largest airline in the country. Alaska counts their regional flying in ASM’s, so tell me what’s going on with the blue!

    1. You’ll see in this week’s update, there was plenty of talk about JetBlue.
      Each week is different depending upon what rolls out in the Cirium data.

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