Airlines Look Into 2021, Hawaiian Action, and More

Schedule Changes

It was a different kind of week in Airlineville. While we’ve gotten used to watching everyone focus on the immediate term, some residents have started thinking about their slightly more distant future. Who knew that was even possible? It was a nice change of pace to flex that Cirium data out several months.

It has been a long time since the Heart last extended its schedule, and this time it went long… going all the way into August. Meanwhile, Pualani put out her new plans for 2021 including some realy nice surprises. The Widget had spring break on the mind, and the Eagle surprised by making Presidents Day plans early. Oh, and the Globe has given up on Canada for a long time.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t any short-term plans being made. The Animal as usual made some last minute cuts, and a whole bunch of airlines took their anger out on the Kaua’i quarantine requirement by slashing Lihu’e flights further.

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

Alaska Brings December Down, Not Just Lihu’e

We’re nearly halfway through December, but Alaska just pulled another 2 percent of total capacity for the month. Since it was focused on December 15 – 31, it was really a higher percent than that during the back half. Much of this was the long-awaited pulldown of Kaua’i flying now that the island has gone back to quarantine. All Lihu’e flights have been pulled December 15 through January 5. LA and Oakland are gone until mid-March. Portland and San Jose are 3x weekly and San Diego is 4x weekly until mid-February.

The rest of the pulldown is mostly frequency cuts in high-frequency Seattle markets. It includes Vegas, Los Angeles, Medford, Portland, and Orange County. Lastly, Palm Springs – San Jose will go away until mid-February. Not a pulldown, but Alaska has now expanded its MAX schedule to include LA and San Diego to Seattle.

Allegiant’s Targeted Cut

I just found this so amusing. Allegiant’s entire schedule change involved cutting 14 flights for today, Monday, December 14. That’s it.

American Pulls Down February

American surprised by making its February cuts early. February is now down just a bit more on a percentage basis year-over-year compared to January. That’s not a great trend. American also added Philly to Hilton Head and Chicago to Harlingen, of all places.

The airline also greatly expanded its MAX schedules. They’ll remain in Miami only for now, but you’ll see them flying to Anguilla Antigua, Aruba, Cancun, Guatemala, Havana, Kingston, Montego Bay, Medellin, Mexico City, Managua, Port-au-Prince, Phoenix, Punta Cana, San Pedro Sula, Santo Domingo, and San Jose (CR). Those all start February 11.

Lihu’e was also on the chopping block for American. It’ll now not fly to the airport until January 5 at the earliest.

Delta Starts to Cut in March

Delta’s cutting once again. It looks like it’s taking its worst-performing markets and extending their suspensions through March. That includes a wholesale gutting of the Raleigh/Durham and Cincinnati focus cities to match previous month pandemic plans. Some of those cuts appear to be permanent, including Cincinnati to Charlotte, Hartford, Kansas City, and St Louis along with Raleigh/Durham to Austin, Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh. Those are now gone through the end of the schedule.

Frontier Keeps on Cutting

Frontier keeps doing its rolling cutting, this time it’s for December 15 – 22. These must be poor-performers, but still, there have to be some people that were booked on these flights that will now have trouble getting to their destination for Christmas. Frontier also cut another nearly 7 percent of capacity in February as it reads the tea leaves.

Hawaiian Adds 4 New Markets

Hawaiian rolled out four new markets, all really interesting ones. Personally, I’m obviously thrilled to see new daily Long Beach – Kahului flights. Ontario will regain service for the first time since 2004 with a 5x weekly flight to Honolulu. The bolder moves are 2x weekly from Honolulu to both Austin and Orlando. These are fascinating experiments made possible by the lower demand for aircraft time during the pandemic. It can take a swing and see what works.

Southwest Extends Its Schedule

This was a huge week for Southwest. It finally extended its schedule into August. At the same time, it filed its new schedules for Houston/Intercontinental and Jackson (MS). As I wrote on Thursday, Long Beach also had its flights all filled out with the new slots. Southwest further cut February and March schedules. It looks like there’s been a shift toward more leisure flying, and now the schedules through March look fairly firm… pending further demand changes, of course. Nothing is truly permanent. After that, schedules are slightly below normal levels, and it’s highly likely we’ll see more refinement when it gets closer.

Southwest joined the party and took another whack at Lihu’e. It has absolutely punished the island by suspending all mainland flights until March 11. For now, it expects to fly 2 daily to Honolulu after the holiday season, and that’s it.

A Quiet Week for United Outside of Canada

It looks like the folks at United got a break this week… unless they handle Canada. Oh sure, they did gut Mammoth Lakes flying. I’m guessing the subsidy dried up there. Montrose lost some flights, as did Aguascalientes. Oh, and Lihu’e got pulled down further between December 27 and December 31 plus January 3 and 4. SFO goes from 2x to 1x daily while LA disappears.

The big news out of United, however, is that it has extended its pandemic schedule to Canada all the way into mid-March. I guess they aren’t optimistic about borders opening any time soon.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode of Skeds of air Lines.

18 comments on “Airlines Look Into 2021, Hawaiian Action, and More

    1. “The Heart”=Southwest. “Pualani”=Hawaiian. “The Widget”=Delta. “The Eagle”=American. “The Globe”=United. “The Animal”=Frontier.

      All characters in the airline scheduling soap opera, “Skeds Of Air Lines”.

      Hope that helps.

  1. Any chance the Harlingen flight was a spring break play for South Padre Island? I know Brownsville is a bit closer, but I’m not familiar with airports out that way, so perhaps AA had a good reason for going with Harlingen instead of Brownsville.

    1. Kilroy – That’s probably part of it, but it runs every Saturday March through May, so it has to be more than just spring break. I think you’re right that it’s about South Padre, but I just can’t figure out why that can’t easily just be handled via DFW.

      1. For what it’s worth, Frontier had a HRL-ORD flight which ended in 2019 or maybe early 2020. Maybe AA took a look at their numbers and decided to give it a try?

        1. Sun Country has flown from MSP to Harlingen for decades and DL serves the route seasonally as well. harlingen is a popular spot for Midwestern snowbirds that cannot afford Florida or Arizona.

  2. Interesting that AS cut so late. Demand out of PNW must have really taken a hit recently.

    AA continues to have the most unsustainable cash burn trajectory among the majors. It must be cutting its schedules more aggressively to show investors that it is doing something to get the cash burn under control. To be fair, their numbers include all the debt and severance payment, whereas DL and UA do not (in UA’s case, they report the 2 separately.) But at this point, AA is likely the last airline to get to cash neutral. In fact, they might not get to it all of next year given the continued depressed business travel demand and their very high debt load.

    JetBlue is rumored to be announcing MIA this week. I think this will be first of many airport that JetBlue adds as a result of its partnership with AA. I have a feeling this AA/B6 deal might expand beyond just the NorthEast airports.

    JetBlue should keep an eye on DL’s developments at RDU and add more routes there if DL continue to pull back there.

  3. “The big news out of United, however, is that it has extended its pandemic schedule to Canada all the way into mid-March. I guess they aren’t optimistic about borders opening any time soon.”

    Cant say I blame them. Our American response to the pandemic has been anything but United.

  4. If American’s partnership with B6 leads to the latter starting Miami service on routes that AA already flies, then it should not be a surprise how well this “partnership” ends = with AA far weaker than it was if it had remained alone and cut its own schedules.

    DL’s capacity share of the RDU market is unchanged. Other airlines like AA is not flying far larger markets including RDU-LAX,-LGA, and -JFK and yes, RDU-PIT. WN has cancelled several markets including RDU-AUS.

    Cranky Network Weekly focuses on the cuts AA made to DFW in Feb. That is a far more significant story and reflects what AA is being forced to do; when they have cut other hubs so aggressively, they have no choice but to take capacity out of the hubs that they have left capacity most intact – including DFW.

    As for UA and Canada, apparently the cost of rebooking became too high. And Canada’s per capita death rate is growing quickly – from a much lower base but the pandemic is worldwide. Even E. Asian countries that had very few cases relative to the rest of the world are seeing higher case growth than they have seen. And multiple countries in Europe have much higher per capita (population adjusted) case counts, even more within 10% of the US and others including in Central Europe that had low per capita death rates up to this point seeing much higher growth in their death rate. And the highest rate of growth in the US is in northern tier states and CA. Multiple countries in Latin America have per capita death rates within or above 10% of the US.

    Until the pandemic is controlled – which could happen now that vaccines are being given in the US and Europe and elsewhere – airlines will cut schedules and they will cut their lowest performing and most peripheral routes.

    The real question is what will happen to the competitive situation when the dust settles even if it is interesting to look at specific markets and carriers and try to create narratives that may or may not reflect anything long-term.

  5. This same mistake was made in your Cranky Network New, but AA doesn’t fly to Anguilla (AXA). I don’t think their 737s would fare well on the 5,463 foot runway. Did you perhaps mean Antigua and Barbuda (ANU)?

  6. Holy Smokes! Pualani is doing HNL-MCO?!?! That’s so wild, it seems worthy of its own blog post. MCO has to be one of the lowest average fare airports in the US, with direct connectivity to seemingly every large and mid-size city in the lower 48. Is this aimed directly at Oahu residents as a nonstop to Disneyworld? Residents on any other island have to do at least a 1 stop itinerary no matter what. Does Pualani figure she’ll be able to get much of a revenue premium for the nonstop? It seems unlikely on a route connecting two leisure markets. Whatever the case, it’s very intriguing and as a resident of FL I hope it is a success!

    1. Wes – Yes indeed. We wrote this up in detail in Cranky Network Weekly this week, but I was thinking about a more in-depth post in the longer run here. Still working on when or if that’ll be.

    2. That’s the one that jumped out at me as well. I can’t wrap my brain around why this one makes sense. Perhaps its to capture all the European tourists that visit FL and want to experience Hawaii as well? I have no data to back this up but my assumption is that any HI residents who wish to experience Disney magic just go to LA instead. Oddly, it’s a slightly shorter distance than to JFK but still – I just can’t imagine that the demand will be there.

    3. There is certainly demand. The problem is that 2x weekly will have a hard time attracting demand compared to all the convenient 1x options along the way. But with all the widebody aircraft sitting around, it makes sense to actually utilize them on a route that have some demand.

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