Greetings from Airlineville. On the surface, it was another quiet week for our fine residents, but underneath, there was more action than you might think.
The Eagle extended its effort to shun small cities while the Widget did all sorts of housecleaning. The Animal made his holiday plans while both Pualani and Ms Blue each took an axe to October plans very late in the game. The Heart built up November, but the Globe was thinking longer term.
All that and more this week. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the skeds of air lines.
Alaska Loves Reno
To be clear, Alaska didn’t do much this week. It cut one daily flight from LA to Santa Rosa through Nov 19, and it made some tweaks on the Monday after Thanksgiving. But the most notable change was that it has now doubled frequency on the LA – Reno route from 1x daily to 2x… before it even started. This is quite the competitive market for no good reason.
Allegiant Suffers in Canada
While Allegiant may not fly outside the US, it sure caters to Canadians a lot. That’s likely why it cut frequency from Niagara Falls and Ogdensburg (both in New York near the border) to Orlando/Sanford. If Canadians can’t cross the border, those flights don’t succeed.
American Small City Cuts
American’s cut service to 11 small cities back in October when the CARES Act expired. It had held off extending that cut, hoping that more government funding would come. It hasn’t, and it likely won’t for awhile. These cuts were just extended through the November schedule. We’ll see if the government does anything in the next month.
American made some Caribbean/Latin tweaks, but sifting through the noise, there were three other changes that stood out. First, London – Chicago is being downgauged from a 777-300ER all the way to a 787-8 through the winter. Second, some Phoenix routes are already getting more service this winter, including Cincinnati and Nashville. Third, American moved some Cancun flights from Chicago to Philly this winter.
Delta Cleans Up
Delta had a whole lot of seemingly unconnected changes this week. Oddly, Delta decided to grow service in November from Atlanta to Baltimore, Newark, and Philly, but it’s cutting at LaGuardia. I can’t quite figure that one out, but it seems worth noting.
Atlanta – Santiago, Boston – Charleston, and Incheon – Manila all had their restarts delayed into December. Cancun – JFK loses some frequencies, but Cancun – Detroit gets an A330 on some flights.
Lastly, next summer, Atlanta – London drops from 2x daily to 1x daily while Delta starts 1x daily Seattle – London. The problem is, I don’t know if this is just a swap with Virgin Atlantic or not. We might simply see Virgin move an airplane from Seattle to Atlanta in a future schedule change to even things out.
Frontier Loads the Holidays
Frontier loaded schedules from Dec 17 through Jan 3. It plans on operating much more in the second half of December (about 75 percent of last year’s flights) versus the first half (about 50 percent of last year’s flights). Growth appears focused on Denver while East Coast saw more cuts.
Hawaiian Culls Interisland
Hawaiian already cut its interisland schedules in November, but this week it made a late pulldown for the end of October. I’m not sure why the airline waited so long. Maybe it got a deal with its pilots or something that allowed the late change, so it pulled the trigger. There is so much frequency in most markets that it shouldn’t be a big passenger impact. Kahului to Kona and Lihu’e are the two exceptions.
Hawaiian also cut flights to Lana’i and Moloka’i through the end of the schedule. It has announced it is suspending ‘Ohana regional service, because its pilot contract won’t allow it if any Hawaiian mainline pilots are on furlough. That is bad news for those islands which now lose cargo capacity and the ability to get a wheelchair off the island.
JetBlue’s Late Cuts
JetBlue also got into the late October cut game, but it was much more extensive. From October 20 – 31, JetBlue cut about 10 percent of flights across its network. That’s a really big cut for being so last minute. It’s hard to understand how that makes sense when crew schedules were likely already built out and flights were booked up. (Obviously they weren’t booked up well enough, but still.)
In other news, JetBlue jumped into Montrose with flights from LA, Boston, and New York. That is now one crowded market.
Southwest Builds November
While JetBlue cuts October, Southwest goes in the exact opposite direction for November. The airline is increasing flights by 6 percent between November 4 and December 1. This fits with the usual pattern for Southwest to cut early and then add back later, but this was a pretty sizable add.
United Makes Several Moves
We knew it would be a busier week for United when it announced a big Latin expansion. I won’t get into those details since the airline put out a press release, but there were two other things that grabbed me.
United also added several small domestic routes in the upcoming schedule. Air Wisconsin will fly from Allentown, Erie, and Pensacola to Dulles and from both Fort Walton Beach and Panama City to Chicago. It was a good weekend for the Florida Panhandle. Mesa will also begin Key West to Houston.
At the other end of the spectrum, there was a big shuffle in widebody flying. A whole bunch of 767 and 777 flying was moved into 787s. The reduction was up to a quarter of block hours on some of those fleets, so it will be very interesting to see what that means for United’s fleet plan.
And that’s it for this week. Stay tuned next week for a thrilling new episode.