May is Shaping Up Well While Airlines Flock to Myrtle Beach for Some Unknown Reason

Schedule Changes

Greetings to all from Airlineville. Spring has sprung, and masks are coming off… and that’s not good. The recovery is in full swing, but more residents are starting to get sick. Will the recovery stall out? It’s too early to know, but for now, the Airlinevillians are cautiously smiling and hoping for a great summer, even if it means staying closer to home.

This week’s Cirium data showed more nuance and less brute force. Oh sure, the Maple Leaf slashed and burned its European plans once again, and the Globe and the Heart scaled back on their hopes and dreams in May, but it was more about the smaller things this week.

The Heart is heading to Myrtle Beach for some reason, as is the Globe for that matter, which seems to have a new interest in the Southeast outside of Florida. Pualani is wooing Phoenicians during the long, hot summer. And the Widget is looking to travel more on… Tuesdays and Wednesdays? That’s an… interesting plan.

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

Air Canada Pulls Europe Down Again

Air Canada already did a preliminary pulldown of flights to Europe, and now it’s gone even harder. For the summer, these markets are gone:

  • Montreal – Bordeaux, Dublin, Marseilles, Nice, Sao Paulo, Venice
  • Toronto – Beijing, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Santiago, Venice
  • Vancouver – Beijing, Dublin, Paris, Sydney

On top of that, London to Ottawa and St Johns along with Montreal to Toulouse seem to be gone for good. Plenty of other markets also have seen frequencies cut as the airline continues to be bearish.

Alaska Pulls Down Mexico and Canada

Alaska is clearly not happy with what it’s seeing in Mexico. It isn’t going to fly Portland – Puerto Vallarta during the summer. It’s also bringing Portland – Cabo and San Jose – Puerto Vallarta down from daily to once a week. Meanwhile, Alaska has given up on trying to fly Seattle to Edmonton, Kelowna, and Victoria through the summer, because, well, Canada is a lost cause.

American Upgauges Again

It was a quiet week for American, but the airline did upgauge several routes including Dallas/Fort Worth – Albuquerque, El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, Myrtle Beach, Oklahoma City, Pensacola, and San Angelo along with Charlotte – Key West and Los Angeles – Denver. Boring? Oh yeah.

American also rearranged Bermuda for the summer. JFK was going to operate daily, but now there will instead be a weekly flight from LaGuardia. Meanwhile Miami and Philly get pulled down from daily to once weekly. Still boring? Uh huh. Like I said, it was a quiet week.

Delta Bulks Up Off-Peak May

Delta was already planning on a step increase in flying in May vs April, but now it has decided to bring Tuesday and Wednesday flying up even more. During a sample week, Tuesday was going to operate 91 percent of Monday flights but now it’s up to 95 percent. In April, that was under 90 percent.

Internationally, Delta made its announcement that it would start flying from Boston to Keflavik, and the schedules have now been filed. There was a lot of domestic tweaking, and this summer that includes a new route from Minneapolis/St Paul to Williston, if anyone is looking to do some fracking.

Hawaiian’s New Phoenix Route

Hawaiian announced this week it’ll fly Phoenix – Kahului 4x weekly for the summer. I like this plan, as we outlined in Cranky Network Weekly. During the same period, it looks like Vegas – Kahului will lose 1x weekly flight.

JetBlue Does a Lot With Little Impact

JetBlue had a busy week of gauge changes that didn’t result in all that much that was newsworthy. The most substantial change was that the Newark – Seattle flight is now going year-round instead of summer-only.

Southwest Takes May Down and Much More

Southwest had a really busy week. First, it took its May schedule down further. A 15 percent cut now has May down 21 percent vs 2019. That’s a 5 point improvement compared to April.

It also filed its Myrtle Beach schedules, as it said it would. This is the first time I’ve seen Southwest enter a new market with less flying on Tuesday and Wednesday. Usually it will alter its weekend schedules but weekdays remain uniform. That hasn’t been the case during the pandemic as cuts have impacted other days, but this is different since it’s a new market. Austin also got its boost with new flights to several markets, including more love for Miami. I don’t need to get into full details since it’s in this press release.

Southwest also increased its weekend variance from weekday schedules at Chicago/O’Hare and Houston/Intercontinental through the summer (it stopped before the summer previously). In Houston, Nashville and New Orleans each lose one weekend flight while Dallas loses two. In their place, there will be an additional weekend flight to Denver along with new weekend service to Las Vegas, Orlando, and Phoenix. In Chicago, Baltimore and Denver each lose a daily flight while Nashville loses a weekend flight. That’s replaced by a daily Orlando flight and weekday Las Vegas flight as well as a weekend flight to Fort Myers and Tampa.

United Cuts May…Sort Of

United announced it was loading its May schedule this week, but, well, it didn’t quite do that. It looks like cuts were only loaded for May 6 – 14 and not after. If we just look at a week in there, total capacity was down 41 percent vs last week. Compared to 2019, it’s down 48 percent.

United also filed its new point-to-point routes that it announced earlier this week. They are all on CRJ-550 aircraft except for the Milwaukee flights which are on CRJ-200s. Not in the announcement… United will add Chicago – Fairbanks for the summer.

More interesting are some changes United made in Hawai’i. Denver – Honolulu loses a daily flight, but Kona and Lihu’e each go up from a 757 to a 767-300. Denver – Kahului and Houston – Honolulu get converted from a domestic 777 to an international one. Chicago – Honolulu and Kahului go from domestic 777s to 787-8s. I’m guessing these changes are to reduce flying on the problematic Pratt & Whitney-powered 777 fleet.

WestJet Grows Domestic

With little chance of flying outside of the country, WestJet is bringing back service to some maritime markets it abandoned and trying some new thin routes with low frequency to see if they might work as Canadians try to find new vacation spots.

  • Abbotsford – Prince George
  • Edmonton – Kamloops, Nanaimo, Penticton
  • Halifax – Sydney (Nova Scotia)
  • Kelowna – Regina
  • Ottawa – Victoria
  • Saskatoon – Kelowna, Victoria
  • Toronto – Charlottetown, Comox, Fort McMurray, Fredericton, Moncton, Quebec City, St Johns
  • Winnipeg – Victoria

Other Randomness

  • Aer Lingus filed its new Manchester schedules to JFK and Orlando starting this summer and Barbados in the fall. Boston is expect for next summer but it’s too early to file that.
  • Aeromar will add a second US route from McAllen with a new Monterrey flight.
  • Aeromexico is adjusting US schedules. Mexico City – Denver goes from 2x weekly to 5x weekly. Fresno – Guadalajara goes from 3x weekly to daily during the summer and 5x weekly beyond that. All Monterrey – US flying has been suspended through August.
  • El Al appears to be increasing capacity by 11 seats per flight. Whether that’s just blocking fewer seats or a cabin reconfiguration, I have no idea.
  • La Compagnie won’t fly in May.
  • Lufthansa has extended its pandemic schedule through May. Frankfurt – Atlanta and Detroit along with Munich – Boston and Washington/Dulles will not operate that month, other markets have reduced frequencies.
  • Sun Country has decided to make me lose my mind. It has re-cut Orange County and Jackson Hole capacity to have 737-700s instead of 737-800s. It had switched that last week back to a 737-800 again and now it is reversing it.
  • Virgin Atlantic has decided to cut 1x daily from London to Boston and JFK through the summer. It will also remove 3x weekly from Los Angeles.

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

17 comments on “May is Shaping Up Well While Airlines Flock to Myrtle Beach for Some Unknown Reason

  1. Those WN MYR adds are a clear retaliation against all the moves that NK has made against them.

    Those AUS + MIA adds are retaliation against AA’s AUS adds. Although, MIA adds probably also signal a more balanced approach for them in South Florida in spread capacity between FLL and MIA rather than just FLL. Their FLL station is way down in capacity.

    UA continues to be the most conservative.

    1. Perhaps WN will eventually rebuild FLL with some of the 100 firm orders for 737MAX-7 aircraft that it ordered today, on the 50th Anniversary of Southwest’s very first agreement with Boeing. Happy Anniversary, Southwest!!!

  2. Assuming the old adage that ‘cash is king’, which airlines have made the best and worst capacity decisions?

    Fares from my home station have seemingly jumped in the last couple of months.

    Booking data this summer must be perplexing to some extent. I would not want to be in route planning.

      1. I don’t know my Canadian routes, and had to look up both cities, but from a quick look at them, that route appears to be a way to get Canucks from an alternative airport in the Vancouver suburbs to an area with some nice provincial parks and outdoorsy activities.

  3. It will be interesting to see how the KEF routes do for DL this summer, given that Iceland is open to visitors who have been either fully vaccinated or who have tested positive for COVID-19 previously. By the time summer starts, that will include a large chunk of potential travellers originating from the BOS and NYC areas. I’m not sure how much people really want to travel internationally yet, but given that Iceland is relatively close to the US East Coast, its reputation for outdoor activities, and the uncertainties around border closures in Europe for summer tourists, it sounds like Iceland could be in a pretty good spot to capture at least some tourism revenue this summer.

    I also find it interesting (albeit not totally surprising) that DL is using a domestically configured 752 for the KEF flights from MSP & BOS, and an internationally configured 752 for those from JFK. A short redeye flight from BOS to KEF (~2400 miles, about the same distance as BOS to Vegas) in economy isn’t an ideal way to start a trip, but I doubt that will play a big role relative to other factors.

  4. I know, I know, it is just a little slip-up, but obviously Air Canada’s Montreal – Sao Paulo cut does not belong under the “Air Canada Pulls Europe Down Again” header…

  5. I understand the sudden interest in Myrtle Beach… 1. it’s touristy, 2. it’s a bit closer to the mid-Atlantic & Northeast regions & 3. south Florida is a mess with Corona even though the state projects a nothing to see here attitude as they have for months.

    1. @Sean, I would suggest taking a break from Desantis-hating CNN: Florida’s infection rate is actually lower than average (basically the same as locked-down NY) and SC’s is actually a lot higher. Here’s a link to infection rate stats (if you don’t believe me): https://www.statista.com/statistics/1109004/coronavirus-covid19-cases-rate-us-americans-by-state/

      These moves have nothing to do with that and more to do with MYR being a cheaper place to go and thus more likely to attract budget travelers from the northeast and midwest who want a shorter and cheaper trip to a place where April, May and June are more apt to feature warm weather.

      1. Florida is warm almost year round. It has a lot of sun and humidity. Both things that really reduce virus transmission. People can actually enjoy their time outdoors. All elements that make transmission a lot harder than colder areas in winter time where people are congregated tightly like in NYC.

        1. That’s true, but don’t forget when it’s hot and/or humid, people tend to congregate inside as well. Instead of heat, they’re chasing A/C.

      2. Sean, much like Cranky, doesn’t like to operate in the realm of reality when a finely crafted anti opening, anti science narrative spins so well to keep the masses in fear!

        Florida is a model for the nation and it’s why airlines are flocking there.

  6. WN has never really engaged in the retaliation game but, of course, the past is NOT prologue these days. Be interesting to see how hotel/AIRB&B and short term rentals in MYR react to all this additional air access. Yes, it’s an easier >2 hour flight from a big chunk of the country making long weekend getaways less stressful. There are more “family” friendly activities in the area vs. SoFla. But MYR isn’t hyper-developed like SoFla or the Gulf coast.

    It’s too early to tell whether the tourists will follow with these new additions. If they do, I’m concerned what the tight capacity of accommodations will do to the affordability of the area overall.

    1. Fair point about the accommodations in the MYR area, and also about the potential for quick weekend trips.

      Barring local regulations to the contrary, I’d wager that beach/ocean destinations on the East Coast that are farther north will be especially busy this summer as well, even in places where the ocean tends to be rather cold in the summer… I’m thinking of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Cape May, Atlantic City, even Virginia Beach (which is itself something like the 2nd largest city in Virginia). All are within a few hours’ drive of major cities in the BOS/NYC/PHL/DC metropolis, and while I’m not sure that many people would want to spend a full week at those spots, for weekend getaways (or even day trips) they are convenient and appeal to many.

  7. Amazing to see another market upgrade on AA into EYW. DFW, PHL, and now CLT are getting mainline. Stepmom flew back down last week, there were 5 175s on CLT-EYW on a Tuesday. Not sure it’ll help the congestion issues on the EYW ramp. There was a lot of waiting for parking the winter of 2019-2020 when AA was running 14-17 flights a day. Even more amazing that DL hasn’t jumped in from DTW given the success AA and UA have had from ORD.

  8. Delta’s MSP-XWA (Williston) isn’t really a “new” route per se, but a restoration of a route that was cut early in the pandemic. In that case, it probably wasn’t cut so much due to the general crash in business travel nationwide, but moreso due to the crashing fuel prices this time last year. When fuel prices crash, oil production out of the Bakken region in that part of the country becomes severely curtailed. Now that fuel prices are rebounding, the oil production ramps back up, so I’m not surprised Delta is restarting that route at this time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier