January is Nearly Set, Kaua’i Gets Crushed, and Cuts Abound

Schedule Changes

As winter approaches and lockdowns ramp up, it was an ideal week to cozy up by the fire with my beloved Cirium schedule data to see just what the good people of Airlineville were up to. Ok, so I live in Long Beach and temps were in the ’70s, so it’s really more about smoke from fires than cold weather, but you get the point.

This week, our friends the Globe, the Taxi, and the Maple Leaf all made their January cuts. That leaves only that other big Canadian to weigh in, presumably next week. With Kaua’i becoming off limits without a quarantine option, big cuts were in the cards. The Heart, Pualani, the Globe, the Eagle, and the Widget all took swings. There is undoubtedly more drama to come once the Eskimo weighs in.

Other than that, it was mostly about scrimping and saving to get through the long, cold smoky winter. Despite the holiday decorations going up, it’s a grim time in Airlineville as residents were told to hunker down.

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

Alaska Pulls Canada Into February

Alaska is getting a jump on the inevitable continued closure of Canada’s border to Americans. It will now continue to only operate 2 daily flights between Seattle and Vancouver through February 10. That has been its pandemic lifeline of service to Canada, and it will now continue.

American Adds More Leisure

It was quite the surprise when I saw a massive cut for December coming from American, but I quickly realized it was a misfile. Somehow American’s submission showed the airline operating no flights at all December 7 – 9, and that is most definitely not true. Once I got beyond that, I did find some nuggets of interest.

First of all, it has canceled flights to Lihu’e through December 16th. I expect this is just the tip of the iceberg now that Kaua’i has backed out of the pre-testing program and requires a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals. You’ll see more airlines playing this game later.

American is also launching three new routes. In March, it’ll fly from Phoenix to Culiacán right in the heart of Sinaloa in Mexico. Then in April, look for Chicago to both Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. Apparently, American is loving those short runway airports. First it was Key West; now it’s Hilton Head.

Delta’s Quiet After Weeks of Activity

It was a fairly quiet week for Delta for the first time in awhile, but it did make some tweaks. It will end JFK to Rome flights between December 17 and March 2, but that’s no surprise since it’s restarting Atlanta to Rome with a new pre-testing program. Meanwhile, JFK to Athens, Dublin, Frankfurt, Lisbon, and Madrid all have their restarts delayed from March to April. The Johannesburg/Cape Town flight won’t restart unti March 27, pushed back from January 8.

Delta also cut back in Lihu’e but it went further out than American. In January, it will alternate flying between LA and Seattle by day of week. About half the planned flights have now disappeared through the end of January.

Frontier Keeps on Cutting

Another week, another close-in pruning. Frontier has now pulled down flights between December 8 and 15 with a high focus on Las Vegas and Philly. It also took down January by more than 5 percent, scattered around the network but with a heavy dose of Florida.

Hawaiian Slashes Lihu’e

It’s no surprise that Hawaiian would have to hit Lihu’e hard with the quarantine requirement back in effect. Starting today, Hawaiian will only operate 5 daily flights to Honolulu from Lihu’e. Nothing else will operate until January 6. Right now, LA and Oakland are supposed to return that day, but whether that happens or not depends upon what Kaua’i decides to do. Either way, the holiday season is lost there.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian pulled down December interisland flying to be closer to the lower levels it put in place for January last week.

JetBlue Does Nothing

I normally would just skip an airline that makes no moves, but when it’s JetBlue, it’s notable. Ok, so it did tweak a couple things, but it only removed 14 flights from the schedule for December and January. That’s a total number of flights. See? Nothing.

Southwest Crushes Lihu’e

Southwest did very little this week, but it did cut Lihu’e like everyone else. From December 13 through January 4, Southwest will operate a single, lonely flight between Honolulu and Lihu’e. That is not much. In fact, Southwest never operated fewer than two a day even during the original quarantine, so this is a big close-in cut.

Spirit Files January

Spirit put its January schedule out, and available seat miles are only down 27 percent for the month. Presumably there may be more cuts if the reports of slowing demand lasts for long. In fact, I’d say more cuts are inevitable.

United Also Does January

United also filed January schedules, and it will be down 54 percent versus last year, the same as it had for December. The January schedule has some serious cuts to business markets. Most notably, United will suspend Boston – San Francisco, Chicago – Brussels, Dulles – London and Zurich, and San Francisco – London from January 5. Burbank – San Francisco also goes away, as does LA – Seattle.

WestJet Cuts December

It’s a late cut, but WestJet is ending Vancouver – Cancun/Phoenix along with Edmonton/Winnipeg – Cancun/Puerto Vallarta this month. It’s unclear how long that suspension will last.

Other Randomness

  • British Airways has suspended London – Austin, Baltimore, Nashville, and Newark until March 1. London – Denver and Las Vegas are suspended until early February.
  • China Eastern will only operate to JFK in the US until March 28.
  • Korean now won’t return to Honolulu until March 1.
  • SAS will not operate Boston – Copenhagen until March 1. Oslo won’t see US service until Newark resumes on February 1. Oslo – Miami won’t resume until March.
  • Southern Air Express re-filed much of its southern network that it canceled last week. So, uh, forget everything I said.

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

16 comments on “January is Nearly Set, Kaua’i Gets Crushed, and Cuts Abound

  1. Is it possible to use airline names instead of referring to them as ‘The Widget’ or other slang ? It’s easy to guess who the Eskimo is, but a little harder on some of the obscure ones

    1. David – I’m afraid not. I like to have a little fun at the beginning with this soap opera-style roundup, but all the actual info is down below in the data. For your records:

      Air Canada – The Maple Leaf Alaska – The Eskimo Allegiant – I don’t have one for them yet American – The Eagle Delta – The Widget Frontier – The Animal Hawaiian – Pualani JetBlue – Ms Blue Southwest – The Heart Spirit – The Taxi United – The Globe WestJet – I don’t have one for them yet

  2. CF: early booking reports show January may be a capacity glut blood bath. What are you hearing/seeing?

    1. David – Hard to know since the airlines can all continue to cut as they see fit. I don’t imagine we’ll have a ton of capacity if bookings continue to slow.

  3. I’m surprised AA has not responded to WN’s entry into MIA and to a lesser degree, key markets at ORD. Although currently their final schedule is only
    published thru the first week of Feb, does anyone expect a response post-vaccine?

    There are a lot of markets out of MIA that are not serviced nonstop, which I believe is why WN thinks there is an opportunity. Cities like: BUF, ROC, SYR, ALB, PVD, MHT, ISP, IAD. Meanwhile, flights to CVG, CMH, CLE, IND, PIT, RIC, ORF and others are flown with E-145’s or E-175’s.

    I wish AA would grab 2-3 gates at MDW and at least offer flights to DFW, CLT & MIA, because justified or not, a lot of Chicago residents still avoid ORD.

      1. You can basically to the same thing on DL view ATL and DTW though. At least you used to be able to do that, I don’t think DL is running it’s MDW station currently post covid.

  4. I’ve been following this soap opera for months now. Not sure I’ve ever commented as well…what do you say? Call it Covid fatigue but the Cirium data is getting a bit dry. YoY data is always depressing…until we get to March/April where we can compare 2020 pandemic stats to 2021 pandemic stats. Oh yay.

  5. That explains why my DUB-JFK flight on Delta on April 1 got cancelled. I guess if I was coming back on the 2nd, I would have been ok. Of course, I probably won’t have had my vaccine by then anyway, so I’m probably not going on the trip anyway. Interesting thing is Delta just shows me going SAT-DTW-AMS-DUB going over and JFK-ATL-SAT on the return. Not sure how they expect me to get from DUB-JFK on the return, I guess swim.

  6. CF: seeing big capacity adds for UA in the Pacific for Feb ’21 compared to current baseline of ops – HNDEWR/LAX/ORD, some NRT too, and PVGEWR/LAX/ORD all coming back full daily. SFOICN/HKG/PVG growing to full daily too. What’s going on here? Not exactly a lot of time to book up long-haul international flights, and then considering the COVID situation in USA… Any thoughts on this?

    1. Jim – I wouldn’t put any stock in February. That is a draft schedule that has not been adjusted at all. United only fixed January this weekend, so you won’t see Feb for some time.

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