American and JetBlue Take Center Stage While Others Stay Quiet

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It was feast or famine this week in Airlineville. There were three airlines vying for the center of attention while others hid in the back, making sure nobody saw them at all in the Cirium data.

The big three? Well, they were so excited about their plans that they even issued press releases. One was the Sun, which rolled out a host of new routes this week that it had announced earlier in the month. The other two — the Eagle and Ms Blue — made the details of their love affair public.

On the flip side, the Eskimo, the Heart, Pualani, and the Taxi did absolutely nothing at all. Good for them. They all deserve a break.

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

Allegiant Files Its New Summer Routes

On February 9, Allegiant announced 34 new summer routes plus special Sturgis service via Rapid City. Those flights have finally made it into the schedule load. You can read the press release for details, but I should point out that there’s one route that was added this summer that didn’t make the release… Austin to Des Moines. Presumably that’s because it’s a market that also operated last summer.

Allegiant also cut a handful of flights for Tuesday and Wednesday. And by that, I mean tomorrow and the day after. Late cuts for the end of a February to forget.

American Files Its Northeast Routes and Codeshares

American announced its first step in its northeast alliance with JetBlue last week, and the schedules were filed over the weekend. American put its code on 22 JetBlue routes from Boston, 25 from JFK, and 2 from LaGuardia. These routes fan out around the US, all domestic, and give American instant presence in a ton of markets where it wasn’t competitive before. American also filed new routes that were announced last week as part of the deal. I’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Separately, it looks like some winter seasonal routes were extended deeper into April, hoping to squeeze a little more revenue out of the winter before it’s done. At the same time, Canada is a lost cause from Phoenix. Those flights have been canceled through the spring. Last thing of note… there is a haircut from LA to Hawai’i with what looks like 3 flights per day being cut this summer.

Delta Sets April

With a 20.5 percent cut this week, it looks like Delta is finalizing April. Compared to 2019, Delta is now down 32 percent. It looks like the Northeast and West Coast do best compared to March, finally rising from the bottom similar to what American did last week.

Delta also took the opportunity to delay JFK – Madrid and Dublin now into April. It was supposed to have been operating in March, but all those St Patrick’s Day revelers are out of luck. Meanwhile, Detroit is getting a boost with more weekend flying through the end of schedule. That is consistent with a shift in demand toward leisure.

What’s not getting a boost is Asia. Delta has gone and slashed Asia flying in May and June. Detroit to Nagoya comes back in April and operates weekly from then. In May, only LA – Haneda and Minneapolis/St Paul – Incheon return. A handful of other flights get frequency bumps, but that’s it until at least July.

Finally, Delta has pulled out of Atlanta – Cartagena and Los Angeles – Paris. Of course, its partner Air France continues to fly the latter.

Frontier Cuts April and May

Looking into April and May, Frontier cut another 3 to 4 percent of available seat miles. I see Raleigh/Durham lost a handful of destinations, but in general the cuts were spread around. Like Allegiant, Frontier also did some last minute cuts in February, but that’s pretty normal.

JetBlue Did Less Than Expected

I figured JetBlue would do a lot as part of its American partnership rollout, but it didn’t do much. The airline did file its initial codeshare, but it’s very light. Outside of codesharing on flights to American’s hubs, there is only JFK – Las Vegas and San Francisco along with LaGuardia – Jackson Hole and Orlando..

United Crushes Canada

United seems to be giving up on Canada for awhile. It has extended its pandemic schedule through the summer season to the end of October. There is a slight bump up in there from the bottom, but consider it a lost cause for the airline. That’s an awfully far-out cut.

It wasn’t a busy week for United anywhere else, and that’s good, because there was too much going on elsewhere. But United did add flights from Denver to Twin Falls in Idaho, furthering its small city strategy.

Other Randomness

  • Air France won’t resume JFK to Paris/Orly at least until the very end of May.
  • Avianca has pulled out of Newark – San Salvador. It will continue to fly there from JFK. The airline has also extended its pandemic schedule through March.
  • Copa has extended its pandemic schedule through March.
  • Japan Airlines has extended its suspension of service on US beach routes in Hawai’i and Guam through May. Only Haneda to Honolulu will operate twice weekly.
  • Jeju Air has reversed its plan to resume flying to Guam from South Korea that was filed last week.
  • LATAM has suspended Boston – Sao Paulo and JFK – Santiago into June. American, remember, has announced it will start JFK – Santiago.
  • LOT Polish will not operate Warsaw – San Francisco this summer.
  • Lufthansa and Austrian have extended their pandemic schedule through April.
  • Viva Air Colombia will start flying Medellin to Orlando in June.
  • WestJet will stop flying Halifax – St Johns; Calgary – Lloydminster, London (Ontario), and Medicine Hat; and Toronto – London (Ontario) during April and May. Considering London is only 89 miles from Toronto, that’s not exactly an essential route.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting new episode.

25 comments on “American and JetBlue Take Center Stage While Others Stay Quiet

  1. “JetBlue did less than expected” – If I’m thinking about this correctly, given JetBlue’s strong presence in JFK/BOS, I would have expected AA to be the one to add the most new codeshare routes – not JetBlue.

    Maybe JetBlue adds more codeshare routes out of LGA at some point in he future.

  2. “American announced its first step in its northeast alliance with JetBlue last week, and the schedules were filed over the weekend. American put its code on 22 JetBlue routes from Boston, 25 from JFK, and 2 from LaGuardia. These routes fan out around the US, all domestic, and give American instant presence in a ton of markets where it wasn’t competitive before.”

    Question – if American had a large competitive presence in NYC historicly & then pulled most of it down in the past decade, how can they say the deal with JetBlue makes them competitive in any shape or form? From where I sit it appears they are using corporate doublespeak to admit that JetBlue is saving their existence in these markets. Same for Alaska on the west coast.

    1. SEAN – I don’t see either one of these as absolutely essential. The West Coast is more clear. American could have continued to lose a ton of money building up the LAX hub. Instead, it can partner with Alaska and focus where it has a chance of making money. For the customer, it’s an improvement, but it’s also just a different focus.

      For the northeast, American was a player only in the top business markets.
      Everyone else, it was irrelevant. Now it becomes relevant with JetBlue’s domestic market. It can then repurpose its slots to not have to serve those places and instead fill in the gaps with long haul and short haul that needs smaller airplanes. It’s not something they could have done previously with so few slots.

      1. Thanks Cranky – that answers a lot of questions. I can always depend on you for great insights & knowledge I cant get elsewhere.

        1. Cranky, do you think this may lead to the shifting of trans Atlantic flying from PHL to JFK? Now with JetBlue’s feed, many secondary markets open up. Perhaps this is the fear of JetBlue’s pilots who see less trans-atlantic flying with AA as a partner.
          Presumably, the JFK fares would be higher on European originating passengers with a higher percentage of them having NYC as their final destination. The remainder could connect onto JetBlue.

          1. NathanP – It’s a good question. We’ve already seen that with TLV, in a way. And Athens may or may not return to Philly. I think this is something that American will consider.

  3. There are still some real issues this AA/B6 partnership have to work through. B6 pilots voted down the LOA to allow for code share on focus city to focus city routes + focus city to international. The first part would seem to be a huge problem. AA’s costs are still really high and a partnership with B6 won’t change that. People that fly JetBlue also tend to pick them due to the product rather than their network. Which means, I really doubt you will see AA get a yield boost due to this. So if AA’s attempts to add new routes failed out of JFK before, I don’t see why it would work now. Aside from those seasonal, sub daily routes they added with not much competition, I don’t see what else survives.

    it’s so interesting to see B6 continue to add to EWR, whereas AA’s goal here has been JFK and LGA. I see demand in NYC shifting to EWR quite a bit. It’s going to be interesting to see how this partnership changes if LGA continues to be weak in 2 or 3 years.

    B6 added codeshare on all of the AA flights out of EWR. AA did not bother with EWR at all. I’m sure EWR was only added at B6’s insistence. If you see JetBlue start adding stuff like ORD and DEN out of EWR, watch out.

    1. The EWR expansion is partly motivated by the fact that it is no longer slot-controlled, versus JFK and LGA. Then again, B6 will most likely face the wrath of UA at its fortress hub.

      1. Perhaps prior to CV, but I doubt if UA is paying much attention to B6’s entry right now. They should, but they ar focused on their own survival at Newark as a whole presently.

      2. The thing is JetBlue is actually not in that much risk of a rival buildup from UA. JFK is slot constrained. BOS is quite gate constrained. UA could probably build a 70 flight operation there, but it would just get crushed by everyone else. FLL is quite gate constrained. Any buildup there would also suffer AA’s wrath. I imagine UA could retaliate by running 12x on BOS-ORD or BOS-SFO or something like that. Not sure how much they could go more than that. It’s not like AS, who theoretically could face a buildup at PDX (although I’m not sure anyone would actually try that).

        JetBlue kind of got lucky that COVID hit at the same time carriers are moving to new Terminal 1 and WN just left a little while ago, so they got a short time to add flights before EWR gets functionality time slot constrained again. But they have to figure out how aggressively they can get here and how many gates they can get in T-1.

        1. I fully expect United’s retaliation will be in Newark itself, except for that Boston-London flight which is just about JetBlue flying the same route. United just has to decide if it’s willing to lose a lot of money now to destroy JetBlue in the future. At some point, you wake the sleeping giant.

          1. I’m just curious how you think they would do that. Although it’s no longer technically slot constrained, FAA does have a limit on number of operation per hour. So pre-COVID, airlines were blocking from trying to schedule additional flights during peak hours. It would seem to me that the more flights JetBlue can add now, the less UA would be able to add. So to me, EWR is a race where UA, B6 and NK are all trying to add as many flights as possible before things get congested again. UA has the advantage of no gate constraints. NK is limited in number of gates. The number of gates B6 will have in the new T-1 is a big unknown at the moment.

  4. I may be showing my lack of knowledge, but I think American and jetBlue can accomplish much of what they want with slot swaps as opposed to codeshares, and without incurring too many labor issues. I’ve seen a number of different views about what the American/jetBlue partnership is trying to accomplish, but it seems to me that it’s focused mostly on growing both airlines’ overall presence in New York and Boston as opposed to creating hubs, which can be problematic at New York in any event. To that end, and without knowing the exact times of the slots, swaps between the airlines could hypothetically be used to enhance feed to American’s international network while providing better schedules for jetBlue at both LaGuardia and JFK. For example, if American wanted to schedule connecting flights to St. Louis using a Republic E175, it can’t do it via a codeshare with jetBlue, but could do it via a slot swap. Flights like those would go to Terminal 8, not Terminal 5, where connections to and from American’s international flights could be made easily. In exchange, jetBlue could use the American slot it got in return to fly to St. Louis at a different time, with or without an American codeshare. That flight would end up at Terminal 5. This particular scenario may not be feasible, and I may be showing my ignorance, but my point is that there’s more than one way to optimize a partnership. If I’m full of …. I’ll appreciate the feedback. I’m always open to learning more.

    1. DesertGhost – I think you’re exactly right. This is going to be about figuring out a way to best utilize those slots. American will want more in the afternoon so it can connect into the intl banks. JetBlue will want more in the morning so it can do more Florida/Caribbean/leisure stuff timed for the local market. The slots should be moving back and forth at a furious pace.

      1. That would jive with AA’s public statements except this is what JetBlue told its crewmember internally
        ” We get access to American’s slots for more arrivals and departures in the afternoon, where our schedule is severely limited.”
        I agree that it’s going to take some time for them to figure out how to best utilize those slots. Especially with business markets down so much in NYC. It’s going to be Q4 before people return to office in any significant number. And by then, a lot of companies are going to have offices everywhere in tri-state area rather than 1 large location in Manhattan. Airlines are going to have to try a lot of different things to use their LGA and JFK slots.

            1. If jetBlue gets access to a flight via a codeshare with American, it still gets access, even if the flight comes into terminal 8 to facilitate international connections. If the added traffic pans out, what was a 50 seat flight could end up being operated by an A321. I’m guessing that’s part of the idea. It should be interesting to see how all of this pans out.

            2. Really interesting. I looked up July 19, a Monday, to see how it was scheduled. They are a bit heavy on morning departures: midnight – 9a: 52 9a – 2p: 50 2p – 7p: 46 6p – midnight: 41

              Still, it doesn’t look insane.

      2. To that point, I’m guessing we’ll see American grow quite a bit at JFK while jetBlue grows substantially at LaGuardia. To me, both airlines will benefit more from codeshares than slot swaps, so those will be given priority, and the labor issues will ultimately be resolved to everyone’s benefit. One possible compromise I can think of is that jetBlue would handle all narrowbody TATL flights from JFK and BOS, while American flys only widebodies. American’s eastern seaboard XLRs can be concentrated in Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Miami instead of JFK and BOS. It seems to me that many of the same goals Delta and US Airways had in their slot swap are also at work here.

  5. DesertGhost brought up a good point about 50 seat flying. What affect will the JetBlue codeshare have with the 50 seat regionals that are owned by American? It seems that passengers would rather fly the A321. Or anything but a 50 seat airplane for that matter.

    1. The 50-seaters are going away anyway for AA in New York.
      The real question is will someone prefer an all Y 3×3 configuration on JetBlue or an e175 on AA for a route. My personal preference is always the E175 but I realize others prefer larger narrow bodies.

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