All’s Quiet on the Western Front… Mostly

Schedule Changes

Finally, a breather in Airlineville! Last week’s torrid pace of change was met with mostly quiet this week. Mostly. But fear not, after sifting through the Cirium data, there were some secrets to be uncovered.

The Animal, the one airline to have slumbered last week, is back at it with some January moves. Ms Blue and the Heart were busy tweaking their future plans, some up, some down. For everyone else, it was a week of peaceful gardening, pruning the hedges, trimming the Europes, and little more than that.

Call it a transition episode this week. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the skeds of air lines.

Alaska Prunes California Again

Last week it was San Diego – Santa Barbara to be abandoned during the winter. This week, it’s San Luis Obispo to both Portland and San Diego to have the axe fall until mid-March. Meanwhile, Alaska decided to continue its Sacramento to Cabo weekly service from March all the way through the end of schedule now. So, congratulations to those who are looking to flee the central valley for another country next summer.

Allegiant Cuts the Border Again

Allegiant extended its schedule from early April to the end of May this week (May 25 to be exact), but other than that, it just walked away from Ogdensburg through winter. A reminder for those who don’t know what the heck an Ogdensburg is…. that’s the closest US city to Ottawa, so during normal times they pour across the border to find cheap flights to Florida.

American Pulls Down Europe Further

It’s going to be a long, cold, lonely winter in Europe, and American is cutting again. Dallas/Fort Worth to Amsterdam and Miami to London/Heathrow all but disappear in January, returning back to life in mid-Feb. In fact, many routes won’t be coming back until mid-Feb now including DFW to Hong Kong, Paris, and Madrid along with JFK to Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. In a bigger surprise, Honolulu sees cuts in the new year from DFW, Chicago, and Phoenix.

Is there any good news? If you like San Salvador, there is. American will add a second daily flight next summer. Why American is doing this so far out is beyond me. Maybe it has something to do with maintenance rotations. I have no clue.

Delta Trims Around the Edges

There were several tactical cuts for Delta this week. It pulled down several flights on off-peak days for Christmas. Interestingly, it had relatively recently turned Dec 18 into a peak day. Now it has pulled down some of that enthusiasm with 44 flights going away. Bigger than that, Delta appears to have pulled all Westchester flights through the end of Feb, so that won’t be returning any time soon.

Apparently Paris isn’t doing too well since Delta has pulled its flight from Detroit starting a mere two days from today. It won’t come back until March, but fear not, Air France is still in the market with infrequent flights. Over the other ocean, it appears Manila will remain off the route map until mid-Jan at this point.

If there’s any good news, it’s that Honolulu and Kahului both see an increase from LA. Oh, and Minneapolis gets the old-person express down down Sarasota.

Frontier Does January

Frontier has taken its first swing at January, and there are currently about 57 percent of flights compared to last year in the week ending Jan 17. That’s only slightly higher than the pre-holiday December schedule. The big emphasis is on Florida.

JetBlue Adds Turkey, Cuts After

JetBlue was so excited to be adding 25 flights over the Thanksgiving holiday that it put out a press release. It is nice to see the airline actually adding at the last minute instead of cutting… but the cutting trend continued in December with 50 flights going away on off-peak days, mostly. I did find it really interesting, however, to see LA to Charleston go from 2 flights that month all the way up to 5. Little bits of strength there? Beyond that, JFK to Georgetown in Guyana is now in the schedule through October.

Southwest Does What Southwest Does

Southwest spent the week in its shop, tweaking and trimming as it’s wont to do. In November, it added 250 flights between the 15th and the end of the month. Interestingly, the day with the biggest gain was Thanksgiving Day itself with 70 new flights. But looking into its crystal ball, Southwest pulled down about 2 percent of seats in January and a little under 1 percent in February.

Spirit in SNA

Spirit is getting ready to launch Orange County service with 2x daily to Oakland and 1x to Vegas in a couple of weeks. But all the traffic declines have opened up more opportunity for the airline, so on Jan 6 it will now add a second daily Vegas flight and a first to Phoenix.

In a very unimportant move that still somehow caught my eye, through December and January, Spirit will swap planes between the Baltimore – Cancun and Baltimore – Houston routes. Can you guess which gets the bigger airplane now? If you can’t, you may need to seek help.

Sun Country Pulls Huatulco

I haven’t paid much attention to Sun Country, but I figured I should probably start. This week, the airline walked away from MSP – Huatulco through the winter season. It also stepped away from MSP to Baltimore, Newark, Chicago, Boston, and St Louis in December with Boston and Newark pulled through January too.

United’s SMX Dream Deferred

United’s return to Santa Maria in California is apparently off for the winter. Flights were scheduled to start in March to Denver and San Francisco, but that is now pushed to June. We’ll see if that holds.

Other than that, it was a lot of news in the market. The airline did pull Boston – LA along with San Francisco to Cleveland and Tampa entirely in December along with frequencies on several other routes. There were several aircraft swaps, and it does look like Chicago to London gets an upgauge on one flight from a 767 to a 787-9 while several other European routes go down. It’s not major.

That’s this week’s mediocre episode. Stay tuned next week for more Skeds of Air Lines.

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16 comments on “All’s Quiet on the Western Front… Mostly

  1. Pfizer’s vaccine is said to be 90% effective. Stock futures are hot. The airline industry could see recovery by the 2nd quarter of 2021.

    1. Tim.

      Don’t count your seats until they are filled. Lets see first what they have & separate the fact from the fiction. Now if this is true, then it’s a red letter day. However we the public won’t be getting the vaccine until medical personnel & essential workers do & that may take a bit of time.

      1. Sean,
        the stock market likes it esp. for airlines several hours into the trading day.
        Of course, every vaccine has limitations and not everyone will get one right away but there are multiple vaccines in process and this news will be repeated with other vaccines around the world.
        Recovery of the travel industry does not require that every person in the world, let alone every person in Europe or the US, get the vaccine but rather that case and death counts fall and the people that want to get back in the air have the confidence to do so.
        I still believe we will see significant travel demand growth by the 2nd quarter, President’s Day forward will be much stronger, and the summer international travel season will have alot of pent up demand.
        There are still 4 or more long months before revenues increase to levels to eliminate cash burn for most airlines but the positive signs are clearly there.

    2. This is definitely good news, but this particular vaccine has some pretty big limitations. It must be stored and shipped at -70C to maintain stability which will greatly reduce the areas where it can be distributed and given to patients. I believe it also has a double dose requirement. However, based on the early reports, the approach of targeting a protein on the virus seems to work. There are multiple other vaccines that use this same approach. Hopefully they can reduce the stringent shipping/distribution requirements to make it more practical to give throughout the US and the rest of the world.

      1. vasukiv has this absolutely correct. A dry ice, double dose requirement is a nice start, but the administration of this is going to be nuts. This isn’t going to be like the flu shot where every CVS, Walgreens, etc can just poke you in the arm and wish you well.

        1. My first concern was safety because this vaccine was developed far more rapidly than the average vaccine & you don’t want the rush of excitement turning into dread if suddenly we have unfortunate side effects. OTOH if this works, as they said in “Waynes’s World,” “party on.” Just call me a realistic optimist.

          1. I actually am a participant in the Pfizer vaccine trial. No side effects.
            Got my antibodies checked on the side and had great response.

            Should do well for lots of folks. May the skies be filled sooner rather than later.

    3. It depends on what you mean by ‘recovery’. For a consistent month over month increase in flights then maybe Q2 2021. For overall industry profitability, Q2 2022 is more likely and still optimistic, and to reach 2019 numbers again, perhaps 2024-6. The vaccine and stock market is very good news and a big step in the right direction but the travel sector will take a long time to recover, especially when it involves coordination and agreements with other countries.

  2. Cranky,

    You do a really good job with the intro text just above the graphic. Is it as much fun to write as it is to read? I think you could have been a writer for a soap opera.

    1. Second. For example All’s Quiet on the Western Front made me go… hey wait a minute – Western was bought by Delta way back in 1987. What does this have to do with the present moment.

    2. Bill – It really is. I could get way more verbose on this too, but I try to keep it more concise. I compare it to people who read smut novels.
      It’s pure escapism.

  3. Any word on how Sun Country has fared compared to other airlines? Whether they meant to or not, the timing of their decision to build a relationship with Amazon to handle their flying was incredibly fortuitous, given how the rest of the industry has done.

    1. Chris – According to Sun Country, the business is holding up fairly well.
      Of course, being leisure focused helps and being midwest-focused too. But it’s the Amazon business it secured before COVID that really has saved the airline.

      1. Glad to hear it. In retrospect, it was an absolutely brilliant move on their part. Glad to see they got their act back together after some of the IROPS they had a year or two ago.

  4. I find WNs strategy of stepping on the gas and break peddle simultaneously interesting.
    After a flurry of announcements into markets that were considered ‘no fly zones’ a year ago they quietly suspended about 100 sectors until spring; many of them decades old.

    Hope this new found scheduling agility will help them stretch out the mountain of cash on hand.

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