Winter Cuts Thanks to COVID Testing, Hopeful Summer Growth

Schedule Changes

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. It’s a new year with a new American President being inaugurated this week, but for the residents of Airlineville and for the good folks at Cirium, it’s business as usual.

Most of the action this week was at the north end of town. The Maple Leaf and its brother from the West both finalized their meager February schedules. Air Canada threw March in as well, but we know more cuts will eventually come as it gets closer.

The Taxi finally put out its summer plans, and oh boy are they hopeful. Meanwhile, the Eagle is drooling over the Caribbean despite hurricane season while the Widget is focusing on the great domestic outdoors.

Before summer comes, however, are the cuts that loom after COVID testing restrictions go into place later this month. The Eskimo got a head start by canceling many of its plans to warm up south of the border. The Widget did some cutting as well. No big cuts from the Globe, but it is MAXing plans for the spring.

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

Alaska Cuts Mexico

It was only last week that the government announced that there would be COVID-19 tests required for everyone flying to the US. Alaska apparently isn’t feeling great about that, because it cut Mexico flying by 40 percent in March. That’s also 35 percent below February levels. In exchange, Alaska added a little capacity to Hawai’i, very little. Other than that, it looks like San Luis Obispo to Portland and San Diego along with Santa Barbara to San Diego are gone into June. Lastly, the Canada skeleton schedule continues another month, now into April.

American Makes Caribbean Moves

American has decided to pour more capacity into the Caribbean this summer, but it’s not all good news. Antigua, Barbados, Curacao, Kingston, and St Kitts lose out. Meanwhile, Aruba, Eleuthera, Punta Cana, St Thomas, St Croix, Montego Bay, Port-au-Prince, Puerto Plata, Pointe-a-Pitre, and St Lucia all grow. Overall, it’s growth that puts even 2019 capacity to shame.

There was also some action on the domestic front. American will start flying from Charlotte to Alexandria and Lafayette in Louisiana this April. Both cities are served by the airline today only from Dallas/Fort Worth. DFW to Daytona Beach and St George also get extended through the summer.

Delta Cuts International in March, Adds Summer Domestic

It was an bipolar kind of week at Delta. In the international world, Delta cut back March by about 3.5 percent. The cuts were entirely focused on the international market with Cancun and Tokyo/Haneda taking the biggest hits.

On the flip side is the domestic market where there was only growth. These will operate from the end of March through summer:

  • Atlanta – Anchorage (starts late May)
  • Atlanta – Bozeman (1x daily in summer)
  • Atlanta – Jackson Hole (1x daily in summer)
  • Atlanta – Reno (1x daily in summer)
  • Minneapolis/St Paul – Anchorage (goes from 1x to 3x daily in summer)
  • Minneapolis/St Paul – Fairbanks (1x daily in summer)
  • Minneapolis/St Paul – Jackson Hole (1x daily in summer)
  • Seattle – Anchorage (goes from 3x to 6x daily in summer)

Hawaiian Pulls Down Interisland

Another month, another need to pull down interisland flying. Most routes saw some frequency cut in February with Lihu’e to Kahului being suspended completely during the month.

JetBlue Tinkers in February

It was another week of JetBlue making moves in February. The only market that disappears completely is Raleigh/Durham – Montego Bay. Everything else is just a frequency cut, but transcons were hit hard. Notably, Newark to San Francisco will now only operate once the entire month. Boston to LA effectively goes from 3x to 2x daily, give or take. JFK to Los Angeles loses 39 flights in the month while JFK to San Francisco loses 35. There are plenty of short-haul routes losing frequency as well, just not as much.

Want good news? JFK to Bogota will start on February 11.

Spirit Extends Through the Summer

Spirit was only scheduling into May, but this weekend it extended into September. The airline is generally pretty bullish with capacity more than 20 percent above 2019 levels. Of course, this is just the first run, so cuts are highly likely as we get closer. It’s hard to really compare this since Spirit’s service can be so highly seasonal, so I won’t get into route specifics.

United Extends the MAX

United had its February MAX flying set, but now it has filled the schedule out into early May. The new routes are almost entirely Denver-based with flights to Austin, Baltimore, Chicago/O’Hare, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, and Washington/Dulles. The only other new route is likely for utilization purposes: Houston/Intercontinental to Austin.

There was a lot of noise this week since United has now lowered capacity on all its Embraer 175s from 76 seats to only 70 through the end of schedule. This was a requirement thanks to a clause in the pilot contract if United cut service too much. (Thanks, COVID.) This probably means that United would rather just sell 70 seats for now and add more later if it’s able to put the seat back on the airplane. But pulling it through the end of the schedule doesn’t exactly sound optimistic.

Oh yes, and JFK service has been postponed from February 1 to February 28, but that was already made public before it was filed.

Other Randomness

  • Aeromexico really doesn’t like Monterrey flying. It has now canceled JFK, LA, and Vegas through May.
  • Avianca has cut February flying to the US, but only LA-Bogota disappears entirely.
  • Boutique will cancel Palm Springs – Phoenix and cut LA – Palm Springs from 2x to 1x daily.
  • British Airways has significantly cut back in secondary markets in February and March. In March, Austin, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, San Diego, and Tampa will have fewer than 5 flights the whole month.
  • Corsair won’t fly Paris to New York this summer as previously planned.
  • Eastern has canceled Boston to Port-au-Price and Santo Domingo along with LA to Guayaquil into March.
  • Emirates has extended the suspension of JFK – Milan and Newark – Athens into June. It will also downgauge Orlando and DFW from a 777-300ER to a 777-200LR through the summer.
  • Lufthansa cut back March schedules with cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, and Philadelphia seeing only weekly flights.
  • Qatar filed a flight from JFK to Milan, but the times and details make it seem like it’s just a cargo flight. I’ve asked for confirmation but have not heard back.
  • TAP Air Portugal increases Washington/Dulles to Lisbon from daily to 11x weekly.
  • TUI Fly will start up Brussels from Miami in April.
  • Virgin Atlantic will not fly from San Juan to London/Heathrow.

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

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5 comments on “Winter Cuts Thanks to COVID Testing, Hopeful Summer Growth

  1. CF, did The Heart decide to take an extended vacation to Cancun prior to the testing requirements to get back into the US instead of making changes? They have been pretty quiet the last few weeks since they pulled down the Lihu’e flights in mid December?

  2. Cranky – I’m curious – what’s the new frequency for PTP? I’m guess those flights still leave from MIA. Have they expanded beyond the longtime Saturday-only American Eagle service? And any idea if/when Air France will resume the daily hop from PTP to MIA via PAP? Getting to Guadeloupe has always been an adventure (which I like) but it seems that options are more limited than in the past with Air France and Air Antilles both reducing or cancelling service to MIA and SJU, respectively. Thanks for any insight you can offer!

    1. ChiFlyer – It looks like PTP stays weekly until June. But this summer, it goes 4x weekly, just ex Tue/Thu/Sat. Still an E75 from Miami only. As for Air France, I have no clue. I mean, it’s in the schedule still for part of March, but I’m guessing that just hasn’t been updated yet.

  3. I know that this article is focusing on current growth, but it is worth noting that these aren’t necessarily new routes. Delta flies Atlanta-Jackson Hole and MSP-Jackson Hole every summer and is currently flying them during the winter ski season.

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Cranky Flier