January and February Come Down, Frontier and Southwest File New Routes

Schedule Changes

As most of Airlineville dreads a Thanksgiving filled with people staying home and eating tiny turkeys with their small families, some are focusing on their gaze on 2021.

The Eskimo has not only filed plans for January and February, but it has also made changes beyond, with big shifts into the summer. The Eskimo was not alone here. The Eagle and Ms Blue also put out their January plans while the Widget revised its plans… downward.

The Animal and the Heart both leaked their plans for new routes with press releases last week. Those were all made official. But the Heart also pulled down more flying in January as it prepares to weather the winter storm. Meanwhile, the Globe will weather the storm by sending people south from an unlikely place.

All this and more this week. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the skeds of air lines.

Alaska Files January and February, Thinks Longer Term

Alaska put forth its first look at a January and February schedule this week. The January schedule runs through February 10, and it’s down about 45 percent. Meanwhile in February, which runs from the 11th through March 16, it’s a more hopeful preliminary cut of about 11 percent, give or take.

Notably, LA to both Boston and JFK remain canceled through that entire schedule along with several other transcons. More surprisingly, some Hawai’i flights disappear as well, including Honolulu and Kahului to Oakland and San Francisco alongside Kona and Lihu’e to LA and Oakland. For those keeping score, that means Oakland to Hawai’i service is gone entirely during that period. Hello, Southwest.

In the long term, Alaska notably changed most 737-900 flights to 737-800s. There has also been an additional daily flight added in several markets, primarily from Seattle. The net result is flat capacity. Do I think this means Alaska won’t be flying 737-900s? No, I think it’s more likely that it’s just selling lower capacity now and will adjust as needed when it gets closer. On the other hand, the reduction in A320 flying is probably a real thing since several are being returned to the lessors.

American Files January Schedule, Kills Some Small Cities For Good

American’s January schedule it out, and it has seats cut a little over 48 percent. I didn’t see anything overly exciting in there at first blush, but there was excitement elsewhere. Remember those small cities that American has been cutting month by month? Well, it looks like it’s the end of the line for New Haven, Newburgh/Stewart, and Williamsport (PA). Those cities have been cut through the end of the schedule while the others remain. RIP.

Meanwhile, in the longer run, American appears to be building a spring break kind of schedule. Aspen has a bunch more flights, as do Belize and Liberia plus some Caribbean spots. For the summer, get ready for weekly Chicago to Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola flights, so that’s… exciting? Perhaps most interesting is a weekly Boston – Key West flight on an Embraer 175. Can someone explain to me how that airplane can get off the Key West runway and make it all that way?

Delta Cuts Again

This appears to be a regular thing for Delta. It files a first round of cuts one week and then follows up with a second, smaller round the week after. January and February cuts came in around 28 percent of seats last week, but this week another 8 percent came off. Considering Delta also announced it would extend the middle seat block through March, that means the cut is actually a fair bit higher than it looks on the surface.

This time around, Seattle and Salt Lake saw bigger cuts than the other hubs. Seattle loses Bozeman while LAX gains it in March, which I thought was interesting. LA also gets more Jackson Hole and Sun Valley in March, an extension of the season I assume. Boston to Sarasota is gone for good, while Amsterdam to Salt Lake gets some good news. Its restart is pulled forward from March 28 to March 5.

Frontier Loads Oakland and Ontario

As the airline announced last week, Frontier will add a bunch of new routes from Ontario and will start flying to Oakland. There’s more than that for those who are interested. You can see full details here.

JetBlue Does What JetBlue Does

Do I even need to write this? Once again, JetBlue has cut close-in flying with 910 flights going away between December 1 and December 17. Every single week…. Meanwhile, JetBlue filed its January schedule (which runs through February 10) and seats are down about 56 percent. That’s likely to be one of the highest numbers of all airlines, but then again, the Northeast remains one of the toughest places to fly these days.

Southwest Files Savannah and Sarasota, Pulls Down January

Southwest filed its schedules for new destinations Savannah and Sarasota, as it announced last week. It also filed Long Beach – Honolulu and Orange County – Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. But before all that happens, Southwest pulled down peak days to off-peak levels in January. Now everything after the holidays is pretty steady at a lower level of flying.

United Adds LAX Leisure, Pulls Cape Town

In a bit of a surprise, United added Saturday-only service next year from Los Angeles to Belize, Cozumel, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, and Manzanillo. The bad news? Newark – Cape Town isn’t going to fly this winter. We shouldn’t really be all that surprised, even if South Africa has just re-opened its borders.


That’s it for this week’s episode. Stay tuned next week for a turkey-stuffed edition of Skeds of air Lines.

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23 comments on “January and February Come Down, Frontier and Southwest File New Routes

  1. Hi Cranky!

    Flying for Republic I imagine I’ll occasionally be doing EYW-BOS. There will be some load restrictions for sure, especially if the WX requires an alternate. But I’m sure AA has run the numbers and found it makes economic sense. The 175 is a very capable plane!

    1. Thanks, Bo. I don’t doubt that it’s a capable airplane, but 1,200nm off a 5,000 foot runway sounds like quite the stretch! I guess we’ll see how it goes.

      1. Cranky it’s the RUNWAY that needs a stretch, haha!
        Seriously there’s no room of course and the ramp is ridiculously cramped as is. If logic prevailed (no chance of that these days!!) the airlines would move to the very nearby Key West NAS. 3 runways between 7 – 10 000 ft, no restrictions there! A quick bus trip could get you to downtown and the hotels in 15 minutes I would guess. Much better solution!

        1. There has been a political push for several years to eventually make the NAS a joint venture to relocate EYW Airline operations over to the NAS. The biggest road block has been a Majority of the Key west residents want ALL the airplane traffic shift to the NAS or nothing. Several plans have been submitted over the years with EYW being town down turned into a mixed use of new Townhouses and a mega resort.
          During the Obama administration it was looking positive with the new open relations between The US and Cuba that The Key west NAS would be decommissioned into a Joint use facility. But the Trump administration quickly reversed and stalled the process. While the Pro Joint use supporters want more tourism to help the Key West economy. The Anti airport and Anti Cruise ship supporters have successfully lobbied to stop the Mega cruise ships from stopping at Key West during This November election. So any further for a the Joint use of the NAS has a long hill to climb.
          But all hope is not lost thanks to new technology in aircraft performance.
          EWY like London City airport will benefit from new aircraft like the A220 that will give airlines more flexibility to expand to further destinations from EWY without payload restrictions.

        2. I’m only a GA pilot but I would imagine on a hot and humid day, depending on your departure time, you’d be looking at a painfully high density altitude that would restrict your max take off weight even more, no?

        3. This made me remember a conversation I had with the EYW airport manager years ago. I was calling to complain/comment about their website which is run by the county. Instead of getting a tech person, they transferred me to the airport manager. While talking, I mentioned the “new” ValuJet service that was coming to EYW. He told me that ValuJet had been doing a lot of test flights on their “new” 737 aircraft. He also mentioned that the airport used to have 727 service. I did not know a 727 could land on a short runway. ValuJet was running their service with limited weight and flew only to Orlando at the time. I wonder why ValuJet did not use their 717s. I thought they were better suited for the short runways.

      2. Just doing some quick math… Embraer’s sales literature quotes a takeoff field length of 4,154′ for 500 nm flight, and 5,656′ at max takeoff weight, along with a 2150 nm max range, so I’ll assume 5,656′ for a 2150 nm flight… I’m not a pilot, and I’m sure that takeoff field length and range don’t scale linearly, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll assume they do, based on those two data points. That works out to 1.1 nm of additional range for every 1′ of additional takeoff runway length, or Range = 1.1*([takeoff runway length] – 3604). Given EYW’s 5,076′ runway, that’s an estimated ~1,619 nm range assuming all the seats are filled with pax.

        Lots more factors at play, including safety margins, how accurate Embraer’s claims are in its sales brochure, etc, and obviously one would like to have some runway to spare when taking off, but it’s worth noting that EYW averages ~10 knot (11.5 mph) winds in the spring, which are usually within 15-30 degrees of its runway, so that would help.

        In any event, figured it would a fun napkin exercise for me as a non-pilot. Looks like it may be reasonably doable, but would definitely be interesting, especially with calm winds and a full load of pax.

        Sources:
        https://www.embraercommercialaviation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Embraer_spec_175_web.pdf
        https://www.weather.gov/key/wind_frequency

        1. By my calculations, a runway length of between 1400-1520m is needed. This based on max payload due to distance being calculated as 8700kg for the 1200nm (+100nm alternate) trip. The AA E175 sits either 76 or 80 pax with 100kg per pax as standard weight. Fuel burn would be 1650kg/h. The aircraft cruises at 430nm/h so around 3hrs round it up with taxing and take off fuel plus alternate, say around 6000kg. Add to basic weight of 21500kg gives a total of 36,200kg. Based on that runway take off lengths would be in the range indicated (based on a dry runway, zero wind, ISA of +15, pressure altitude of sea level). So to allude to Cranky’s comment, this aircraft probably can’t operate with a full payload.

          Please feel free to query or criticize any method or math.

      3. CF –

        EYW-ORD is over 1200nm as well. I’ve been on the flight with and without weight restrictions. All the new service AA added last year has made getting into EYW so much easier. I’m amazed DL hasn’t tried a weekend flight from DTW at the very least.

        1. Chris – Good point, I had forgotten that was flown as well. But Boston is still longer, so even more likely for a weight restriction. Good point on Detroit, but DL has added from other closer cities, if I remember right.

    1. Evil Bob – No, Alaska won’t have any MAX 8s, only MAX 9s, but those are different. These are all the NG previous generations.

  2. Did LAWA ever announce where they were going to AA those 9 gates from the Eagles Nest? I don’t recall an announcement and makes me wonder if this was a hint of AA’s future in LAX, especially given UA’s new leisure routes from LAX and DL’s quick restoration of service.

  3. AA is adding Eagle E-175 service into PHX for the first time beginning in Dec. I found 1 daily PHX-LIT and 2 daily PHX-MEM flights in the Dec/Jan sched.
    It also marks Envoy’s entrance into the PHX market.

    1. Good find, Jack R. I see Little Rock starts on Dec 17 while Memphis starts Jan 5. Nothing else in the schedule yet. It looks like those airplanes come from Memphis and Little Rock to Phoenix, then they turn right back and go into the rest of the Envoy network from there.

  4. Could the AS Hawaii 739-> 738 moves be related to the better performance of the 800s? I seem to recall Alaska does a seasonal shift due to the winds & whatnot… that the 900 would require a fuel stop on SEA/Hawaii.

    1. haolenate – I doubt it. If this were just a move to impact Hawai’i markets then possibly, but this is just a broader network strategy shift.

  5. OK we are forgetting their is an airport with a 5000 ft runway that use to dispatch 757’s on Transcon flights to ATL, EWR, and DFW. It’s called John Wayne.

    1. George – Orange County is 5701 x 150 ft while Key West is 5076 x 100 ft.
      Those 600+ feet make a difference, though I’m curious if the runway width is a problem anyway.

      1. Not sure for the E175 but the A319/A320/A321 (and I assume most other aircraft) will take a performance penalty for narrow runways. SNA at least has a standard width (150ft) runway so no restriction is needed most days.

      2. My understanding the Runway Width wasn’t one of the main factors along with lack of flexibility on the terminal Ramp if a flight was delayed and you missed your schedule slotted time for a 737 it was a rescheduling nightmare so it is why WN pulled out. Unless They move Airline operations to the NAS Or partake in a massive runway and terminal ramp upgrade you will not see WN reconnect that Dot anytime soon.

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Cranky Flier