It’s less than a week until Christmas descends on Airlineville, and the friendly residents are in a pensive mood. Instead of thinking about tomorrow, however, they’re taking the holidays to ponder a better time… some day in the future. It’s clear from their actions that those times will definitely not be coming in January or February.
This was one of the more fascinating Cirium schedule loads in some time. We didn’t have to contend with the regular monthly tidal wave to which the residents often subject us. Nearly everyone was focused on strategery before the quiet holiday period sets in. Even Airlineville residents need a break from the day-to-day slog.
The Eagle was busy shifting its gaze from the cold European winter to a sizzling Latin summer, while also throwing some grenades at fellow Airlineville residents. The Globe had summer on the brain as well, but it was thinking closer to home. Meanwhile, the Widget was busy dreaming about Spring Break in Florida while the Heart was focused on gutting everything before Spring Break even arrives. The Eskimo, the Animal, and Ms Blue had some shiny new presents to show off to friends.
All this and more on this week’s episode. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the skeds of air lines.
Alaska Lives Up to Its Name
New Anchorage flying was announced on the 16th, but only Denver and Las Vegas flights were loaded this week. Presumably the announced San Francisco flight will be loaded soon, as will the year-round extension to Phoenix flying. In other news, JFK to San Diego starts up in April, an interesting choice since partner American already flies that (or is expected to resume it). We’ll see if that sticks.
American Fights Back, Makes a Massive Shift From Europe to Latin America
There was a lot going on with American this week. First, it took a swing at several airlines. Starting in April, it will fly Dallas/Fort Worth to Long Beach once a day, going up against Southwest’s new Love Field flight. It will also bring back Phoenix to Anchorage, something it hasn’t flown since 2019 but a route that Alaska just announced it would fly year-round. (This one is admittedly the least retaliatory.) Lastly, in response to JetBlue’s decision to go into Miami, American announced it would fly Fort Lauderdale to Boston, JFK, Los Angeles, and Port-au-Prince (along with Austin-Orlando, just for kicks). At the same time, it’s upgauging LA to Miami to have several more 777 flights per day. It’s going to be a bloodbath for awhile.
Then there’s the big shift. Europe was pulled down dramatically. American apparently intends to pull out of Keflavik (Iceland), Manchester, and Prague for good while suspending Venice until 2022. It has also pulled down a whole bunch of Europe routes through the spring. April seats are down more than 25 percent, settling down off just over 5 percent through the summer. Meanwhile, Latin America is booming with seats up more than 10 percent off an already large base from April and beyond.
Other than that, there were a few routes returning to Washington/National in February, including Birmingham, Charleston (WV), and Memphis. American is also flexing its DFW muscles with new flights to Eugene, Fairbanks, Fayetteville (NC, seriously), and St George (UT). Fairbanks also gets a Chicago flight. Bermuda loses its flights to Miami, JFK, and Philly, instead just getting Charlotte. Charlotte also gets Appleton (WI), Sioux Falls, and… Honolulu on a 777-200.
Delta Goes Florida-Crazy
Delta is going big in Florida this week with March seeing more than a 10 percent increase in seats. Delta now has more seats scheduled this March than last. Seriously. It also upauged dozens of flights from 717 to A319 aircraft. This still feels like a placeholder as an A319, but it does show the beginning of the 717 fleet disapperance.
Frontier Files New Vegas, Other Routes
Frontier rolled out some new routes this week. It already announced Vegas to Cabo San Lucas, El Paso, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Puerto Vallarta, and Wichita. This week we also saw Cancun to Miami and Cozumel to Chicago/O’Hare.
Hawaiian Shrinks Sapporo
This week Hawaiian cut Sapporo flights from 3x a week to 2x through the end of schedule. It also extended the suspension of Pago Pago through January and pulled down more Lihu’e flying in January as well.
JetBlue Does Boston, Miami, and More
JetBlue took advantage of its soon-to-be partner American by launching Miami service from Boston, JFK, Los Angeles, and Newark. As mentioned, American did not take too kindly to that move. More interestingly, JetBlue doubled down on Raleigh/Durham by announcing a whole bunch of new routes. I like this move as a strategic focus city for the airline. It’s what it should have done in San Jose years ago. The brand will work there. I also like the Newark growth.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t more questionable adds, like Cancun to Vegas and Sacramento. Let’s not forget Jacksonville to LA, a route that will do better when there are A220s to be flown. But still, woof. This and more was announced in a press release, so you can read that for full details.
Southwest Takes February Down
Southwest was hoping to fly a peak/off-peak schedule in February, but it has given up on that plan. All the former peak days have been pulled down to off-peak levels. This had already been done in January before, so it now looks like an EKG where the patient has flat-lined up until March 6.
United Bets on Domestic Leisure This Summer
United has settled its big domestic summer plans, and it’s filled with a potpourri of smaller, outdoorsy markets. Here’s the list:
- Chicago/O’Hare: Anchorage, Bangor, Durango, Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Grand Junction, Halifax, Hilton Head, Jackson Hole, Kalispell, Missoula, Montrose, Myrtle Beach, Panama City, Quebec City, Steamboat Springs, and Vail
- Denver: Burlington, Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Pensacola, Portland (ME), Sun Valley, and Traverse City
- Houston/Intercontinental: Anchorage, Aspen, Bozeman, Durango, Gunnison, Jackson Hole, Montrose, Rapid City, Steamboat Springs, and Vail
- Los Angeles: Jackson Hole, Kalispell, Missoula, and Rapid City
- Newark: Anchorage, Bozeman, Hilton Head, Jackson Hole, Myrtle Beach, Nantucket, Rapid City, Traverse City, and Vancouver
- San Francisco: Anchorage, Aspen, Jackson Hole, Kalispell, Missoula, Rapid City, and Sun Valley
- Washington/Dulles: Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Nantucket, and Traverse City
- Aer Lingus has slashed its January schedule, cutting most US flights.
- Air Transat has removed Montreal – New Orleans and San Diego from the schedule.
- ANA will not fly Narita – Honolulu or San Francisco along with Haneda – Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle in February.
- British Airways has removed Heathrow – Charleston (SC) and Pittsburgh alongside Gatwick to JFK through the end of the schedule.
- Japan Airlines removed all Hawai’i flights plus San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle in February, but it will return service from Narita to Chicago/O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, and New York/JFK in February.
- Qatar starts Seattle – Doha in March.
- Singapore has extended the cancellation of all fifth freedom US flights through February along with Singapore – Newark and Seattle.
- Virgin Atlantic won’t fly from Manchester to the US or from Heathrow to Orlando and Vegas through February. Heathrow to San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington Dulles won’t operate through January. It will, however, start new service from Heathrow to San Juan in June.
That’s it for this week’s episode. I expect Airlineville will be busy celebrating Christmas next week, so I don’t have high expectations for excitement. But hey, I’ve been wrong before.