February is in Focus, JetBlue Whacks Airports, and Racing Toward the Sun… Again

Schedule Changes

The holidays are done, and it’s time for the airlines to all get back to work on their 2021 plans. This week, the Eskimo, the Taxi, and the Globe all got around to mapping out their Februaries. Those dance cards are filling up, mostly because there’s a lot less room on them. Now the residents of Airlineville get to play that time-honored game… will they have to take more action or are they good to go? As always, I’ll be watching my trusty Cirium data closely to see.

Ms Blue has gotten ahead of the game with some early spring cleaning, eliminating cities entirely into the early days of summer. It’s always a surprise to see someone looking beyond the horizon these days, even if it’s not a particularly pleasant one.

This week wasn’t all about cutting, however. The Eagle, the Widget, and the Globe all continue to come up with new ways to serve people in swimsuits. In the Widget’s case, it looks like things with the Eskimo may be heating up… just a smidge.

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

Alaska Sets February

Alaska filed a bunch of cuts this weekend. First, it brought the back half of January down to early January levels. Then it cut February 11 through March 17 down to reasonable levels, though future changes are likely. The airline also filed its Austin – LA service which I’ll be talking about in a separate post soon. But as part of that, a surprise… it decided to boost up Austin – SF to 3x daily as well.

American Adds New Sun Routes

It seems like a weekly occurrence as of late, but American has thrown out a handful of new sun routes once again. Chicago – Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola start in March. April brings Boston – Hilton Head while May draws Philly – Fort Walton Beach and Panama City.

Delta Tinkers and Tackles Seattle

Delta also had a tinkering week. It gutted Atlanta – Montreal, switched one of its Escanaba flights from Detroit to Minneapolis, and pushed the Dakar flight up to daily. Maybe more interesting — slightly — is a decision to operate Seattle to Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta year-round. All of those are flown by Alaska as well. The Cabo flight, I should note, appears to be funded by taking a daily flight out of LA – Cabo in April. Not sure what happens after that, but Seattle is a priority, it seems.

Frontier Makes Its Regular Cuts

Frontier pulled down Jan 14 – 19 this week, but these cuts were far less than what we saw last week.

Hawaiian Takes Down Some Capacity to the Mainland

Hawaiian looks like it was maybe a little aggressive on Maui – mainland flights. It will pull a couple frequencies in several markets in February and March. The airline is also downgauging the Honolulu – San Diego flight from an A330 to an A321neo through March. It was already going to switch to a neo at that point and then go through May 25, so this just extends it. Hawaiian also continued its suspension of Papeete through February.

JetBlue Unloads Suspensions

JetBlue has decided to extend its suspension of service to Baltimore, Burbank, Ontario, and San Jose. That was supposed to restart in April, but now it won’t happen until June at the earliest. On top of that, JetBlue has suspended flying to Albuquerque, Burlington (VT), Minneapolis/St Paul, and Portland (OR) during February and March. That’s an interesting move, since it’s not clear to me if the DOT is going to require those cities to be served or not as part of PSP 2.0. But hey, at least you now know which markets suck the most for JetBlue.

Southwest Digs for Gold in February

Southwest suspended Havana – Tampa flights into March, but more interesting is that the airline has reverted to its old plan of adding incremental flights where demand may exist. In February, the airline added 94 flights. including one flight the whole month from Buffalo to Fort Myers and Rochester to Orlando. Go figure.

Spirit Loads February

Spirit has finally gotten around to making its February cuts, and it is currently planning for capacity to be down only 32 percent year-over-year. That’s the same as Alaska, but no other airline is that strong except for Allegiant. I wonder if this will hold.

United Also Adds Sun Routes

American can’t corner the market on new sun routes. United will add Washington/Dulles to Panama City and Pensacola in March. (Pensacola gets up to 2x daily.) Houston gets flights to Key West and Sarasota. The good people of Fort Dodge and Mason City (both in Iowa) will get United service after the essential air service contract moves away from Air Choice One in March. Meanwhile, LAX loses out in Mexico with the suspension of Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo through April and Cozumel through March.

WestJet Cuts Some Cities for the Long Haul

WestJet whacked Vegas until April from every gateway. It will also suspend Huatulco, Aruba, and Orlando until June. Mazatlan and Zihuatanejo appear to be off the schedule until the Fall while Bonaire looks to be gone for good… unless new service gets loaded down the line.

Other Randomness

  • Aeromexico won’t fly Monterrey to JFK, LA, or Vegas in March, extending suspensions.
  • AirAsia X has suspended Honolulu flights through February. This may be permanent (as the airline might not survive at all).
  • Azul won’t fly Orlando – Campinas/Viracopos in April
  • Boutique is already flying Boston – Massena (NY) and will now fly there from Baltimore as well.
  • Copa won’t fly Panama City to Denver in April or May. Vegas and New Orleans won’t get flights March through May.
  • El Al won’t operate Tel Aviv to Vegas in February.
  • Silver slashed frequency on a ton of routes through the end of its schedule. Only Fort Lauderdale to Nassau and Orlando see growth.
  • Surinam Airways won’t fly Miami to Paramaribo until the end of March.
  • Swoop has cut Edmonton to Phoenix/Mesa down to once weekly. Vegas will not fly in February but will be at half frequency from March on compared to previous schedules. Swoop will also cancel Toronto to Orlando and Tampa through the end of the schedule.
  • Turkish has pushed the extension of its Newark service suspension into May.

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

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20 comments on “February is in Focus, JetBlue Whacks Airports, and Racing Toward the Sun… Again

  1. Hey CF – Wondering if you will cover Air Asia X or other airlines that are barely holding during the pandemic. Thanks as always.

    1. Jdjohn – On occasion. There’s nothing really to cover on AirAsia X right now. They’re just holding on and hoping to come up with a plan to make the airline lose less money. It never made money, but now things are worse, obviously. Airbus has a vested interest in seeing it fly, because the A330neo program almost depends on it. But we’ll see if a rescue can happen.

  2. Hey CF,

    I expected AA to load their March schedule over the weekend, but that didn’t happen, leaving schedule less that two months out. We’ve
    been dealing with this Pandemic for nearly a year now and one would think they have good data thus far regarding demand.

    So my question is: does anyone else consider it false advertising to be selling a full schedule knowing darn well you won’t be flying it?

    1. > So my question is: does anyone else consider it false advertising to be selling a full schedule knowing darn well you won’t be flying it?

      I see your point, but it’s tough to know exactly where to draw the line on this, when demand may be changing from day to day.

      How “big” of a schedule change deserves / requires (from a legal side) compensation or points (or anything beyond or in addition to the option to cancel the newly proposed itinerary and get a full refund) would make for a good discussion or subject for a podcast or post by Cranky. Personally, I’m curious how many people Cranky Concierge has had to rescue from schedule changes.

      1. Kilroy – Well, lately, it’s anyone who has booked more than a month in advance! We have dealt with an insane number of schedule changes, and I haven’t kept track. In some cases, we’ve had 3 or 4 schedule changes impact a single trip. It’s a whole lot more work than it used to be.

        1. Wow, Cranky. I guess the Cranky Concierge team is earning its pay these days… Hope you’re also getting a bit more business from all the schedule changes.

          I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen an email from Cranky Concierge promoting your team’s ability to assist when airlines cancel/change flights and reschedule pax, but I can imagine that on occasion your team spends more time on some of the rescheduled itineraries than you’d like to, from a revenue and cost/time side.

          1. Kilroy – Yeah, it’s not a part of the business we like doing, nor is it a profitable one. We only handle it for people we’ve booked, so we don’t promote that specific ability. As difficult as it is to help people we book, it’s far more difficult to help those booked elsewhere. So really, if people value that, then they should book directly with us, because we will handle it all!

    2. My short answer is “no.” Here’s why.

      FIrst, If I understand the contract legalities correctly, publishing a schedule is merely a solicitation for offers. The prospective customer makes the offer, which is accepted (or theoretically rejected) by the seller (i.e., the airline).

      Second, Every flight is subject to cancelation. That was the case before the pandemic, and will be the case after it. There’s a part of the website that tells you what happens if your flight is canceled.

      Third, Every airline’s website has a link to the terms and conditions of the transaction. I’m 99.9% certain there’s a disclaimer on every airline’s website that reads something like this, “All terms, fare rules, and tariffs are incorporated herein by reference and constitute part of your agreement with XYZ Airlines.” By booking a flight, one accepts those terms and conditions. No one is being forced to book a flight.

      Finally, An airline can’t sell what it doesn’t offer. All any purveyor can do is estimate how much inventory to stock. When there’s no way to accurately predict demand, all any company can do is make its best guess.

    3. Another point I should have made is this: An airline doesn’t “know” it’s not going to fly its advertised schedule. It merely offers what it feels its consumers will buy. There’s no way a business is going to deliberately mislead prospective customers into thinking it’s not going to perform.

      1. Here is one example of many I found:

        On March 5th, AA.com is showing over 50 CR7 flights to over 16 nonstop destinations from LAX.

        It is my understanding (please correct me) that the Eagles nest is closed.

        Basically (except for new routes) AA is still selling their pre-Covid default schedule.

        1. I don’t want to turn into Tim Dunn and go back and forth on this issue forever, but all I was trying to get across is that there’s no evidence that American won’t fly the schedule it’s showing on March 5th. No one knows at this point. And I’m not one who likes to predict the future. With apologies to Mark Twain,* 50 flights over a 16 hour period works out to fewer than 4 flights per hour. And if I’m not mistaken (which I could be) a CRJ-700 can use a regular gate. To that point, I don’t know the status of the Eagles Nest. I’ve seen posts on Airliners.net that say it’s shut down, but last time I looked at LAX’s website, it appeared to be in use. I’m guessing Brett knows.

          *Mark Twain once observed, “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

        2. Jack – The Eagles Nest is closed right now, but it’s not closed permanently. It could reopen whenever American feels the need.

    4. Jack R – The airlines are all doing this now. Demand shifts on a dime, and there is no way to know what it will look like in March. What will death numbers look like? How far along with Biden be in his accelerated vaccine plan? All those things could have a material impact on demand. And airlines know that it’s a lot easier to sell a flight and then cancel it than it is to add a last second flight if things are full. It’s a tough situation, but it’s being handled as fairly as possible now that refunds are flowing when even half-serious schedule changes occur.

  3. DL apparently does not know their customers or markets. Hardly anyone in SEA is going to fly to CUN, PVR or SJD in the summer. Have you been to those cities in the summer and early fall? It’s hotter than bejezzus through August and as humid as MIA in Sept and Oct. That’s the rainy season and it it’s awful…flooding streets and all. Worst vacation I ever had was late Sept in PVR. No one in their right mind would leave a Seattle summer and early fall to experience that…which is why AS is smart and only operates n/s late October-April.

    1. With the future of international travel persisting to be unclear, customers are going to sway towards where they can travel without or with less restrictions, such as domestic U.S. markets or Mexico. Airlines will then dump capacity towards these destinations if they deem it’s better than leaving aircraft sitting around. People in Seattle who are planning to vacation over this summer likely aren’t going to be able to travel to destinations like Seoul, Sydney, London, Tokyo, etc.

      Regarding your comment on “AS is smart and only operates n/s late October-April” – if Alaska has historically operated SEA-CUN/PVR/SJD between October and April, it appears this year is an exception. Alaska is currently selling daily flights from Seattle to those three destinations throughout summer 2021.

      1. Thanks guys…didn’t realize AS went year-round on that. And people are flocking to Mexico where they can party and parade around without a mask…even though Covid is as bad there as here in the US. It’s a cash grab by the Mexican government for tourist dollars but I don’t feel it’s safe to travel there. I have family in MEX that I’d love to visit but can’t. I also realized it’s about the gates and the pissing match between the two. They’ll both likely be losing their shorts on those routes this summer but neither will blink.

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