The residents of Airlineville are showing more confidence than they’ve shown in a really long time. Vaccinations are becoming more widespread every day, and even though borders remain closed, that won’t stop travel where it’s allowed.
With that in mind, Airlinevillers are ramping up and they’re doing it earlier than usual. Cirium data shows the Widget, the Eagle, and the Taxi put out their optimistic June plans this week. The Globe, has done the same, but it’s feeling a little more… blue? Apparently the optimism has skipped over Willis Tower.
Meanwhile, the Sun is, as always, one step ahead. It’s been busy making Thanksgiving plans, of all things.
All this and more this week. Like sands through the hourglass, these are the skeds of air lines.
Alaska Looks Toward the Fall, Tackles Avelo
As announced this week, Alaska will begin flying from Burbank to Santa Rosa, a route just announced as Avelo’s inaugural. It will fly it once a day, and this fall it will bulk up Orange County and San Diego to Santa Rosa from 1x to 2x daily each.
Alaska has also made some fall tweaks too. Seattle – Walla Walla and Bend/Redmond will get an additional daily flight. Anchorage – Vegas will not operate during the fall shoulder season and Anchorage – San Francisco won’t operate after the summer. Before the broader August cut gets made, Alaska has already canceled several routes that month with a focus on Portland: Portland – Eugene, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Palm Springs, Tucson, Vancouver along with Paine Field – Los Angeles and Spokane all go away.
Allegiant Extends through Thanksgiving
Allegiant extended its schedule from mid – November to mid-December this week. That includes Thanksgiving, which will be up a few points from 2019.
American Takes Summer, Upgauges in DC
American has filed its look at June and July this week, and it’s feeling pretty good about things. American is down 19 percent in June and 15 percent in July vs 2 years ago. But that is dominated by international cancels. For example, this summer American now won’t fly to Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Manaus, and Shannon. Domestic travel is just a couple points down.
With the opening of the new regional concourse at Washington/National this week, American can now finally ditch its 50-seat jets. All of the ERJ-145 flights have been upgauged to CRJ-700s, putting First Class on every departure from the airport.
Lastly, American filed several new routes that it had announced, including Nashville – Raleigh/Durham. From DFW, it will fly to Bangor and Burlington starting in July. Meanwhile this winter, Miami will get weekly flights to Des Moines, Milwaukee, and Rochester along with daily flights to Grand Rapids and Omaha.
Delta Brings June Down Again
Delta has once again brought June down. It is now down 20 percent for the month and is closer to what it is likely to operate. Beyond June, Delta has extended cancels on several small hub/focus city routes through August. That includes Boston – Buffalo, Newark, Philly, San Francisco; LaGuardia – Charlottesville, Columbia, Grand Rapids, Knoxville, Memphis, Northwest Arkansas; Cincinnati – Chicago/O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco; Raleigh/Durham – Newark, Washington/National among others. It has also bumped up longer haul frequencies in several Salt Lake markets, like New York and Boston.
Frontier Files Its New Routes
Frontier apparently had been holding on to a slew of new routes until after it was able to get through a successful IPO. Now it’s just putting out new routes day by day. Many of them were filed this week. You can read details here.
JetBlue Finally Files Its A220 and A321neo with New Mint
It’s been a long time coming. This weekend, JetBlue filed its first A220 schedules between Boston and both Fort Lauderdale and Tampa from April 26. It also added its first A321neo flights with the new Mint seats on the JFK – LAX route starting in June.
Southwest Gets Ducky
Southwest filed its Eugene schedules. Service will begin 1x daily to Vegas and 2x daily to Oakland from the end of August.
Spirit Puts Up an Early June Schedule
Spirit is trying to expand its window for having an actual schedule on sale. Spirit is showing down 2 percent for June over 2019, a slight improvement over May being down 3 percent.
United Does the Same
United has also put a June schedule up early, and oh my is it conservative. The month is down 36 percent versus 2019, and even domestic is down around 30 percent. None of the other airlines have gone this far and they unlikely to do so. Either United sees something or it’s having trouble getting the right crews flying the right airplanes.
United has also given up on flying to Naples and Venice this summer. Those are all gone. The airline has done a lot of gauge changing, swapping airplanes around on different routes. Into the fall, United added or took away a flight in several domestic markets. These are up:
- Denver – Eugene, Gillette, Prescott, Sheridan
And these are down:
- Chicago – Miami, Raleigh/Durham, West Palm Beach
- Denver – Colorado Springs, Fresno, Houston, Indianapolis
- Houston – Austin
- Newark – Charleston (SC), Sarasota
- Aeromexico continues its Texas love by upping Houston – Mexico City from 3x to 4x daily.
- Air Canada won’t fly Algiers – Montreal this summer. It also won’t fly from Montreal to Keflavik, but it is beefing up Toronto to Keflavik instead.
- Eastern has canceled its plans to fly JFK to Anchorage and Quito this summer, but get ready for Chicago – Sarajevo to start in May.
- Porter has pushed its restart into June. At what point does the airline just give up entirely?
- Singapore won’t fly to Newark or Seattle in June. It won’t fly fifth freedom routes Houston – Manchester and Los Angeles – Tokyo/Narita either.
- WestJet has slashed several US and Caribbean routes through the summer — along with a couple into Europe — as it comes to grips with the fact that Canada is approaching another lost summer.
That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode of Skeds of air Lines.
For the airlines that have done their summer cuts, I think a lot of these routes that have not yet returned are not going to come back for a long time. Obviously, each routes are different. Those DL LGA cuts will come back when slot waiver goes away. But overall, AA, DL, AS and B6 are all currently scheduling in pretty close to the most they can operate due to fleet retirements and head count reduction. I’m not even sure AA and DL can operate their current schedule based on all the pilot retraining that have to happen. Given the capex reduction across the board in 2021 and 2022, there really isn’t that much additional flying these airlines can plug in. Which means, a lot of these routes will not be able to return at minimum until summer of 2022. More likely, we should just treat a lot of them as permanently canceled that may get brought back in 2 or 3 years time.
Given that United was one of the first airlines to announce that they were hiring pilots again, and given that United has gone on the record as saying that domestic leisure demand is almost fully recovered to pre-COVID levels, it does seem plausible that the relatively low amount of scheduled June flying is being caused or exacerbated by crew (re)training challenges.
I’d love to see a post, podcast/interview, and/or visit to the folks at the airlines who are trying to coordinate & manage the airlines’ capacity recovery, both in terms of getting the pilots’ qualifications current again and in terms of bringing the planes out of storage. I can only imagine the pressure and stress that those people are under at the moment, and the hours that they must be working to make it all happen… Definitely not an easy thing to do.
I’m not an expert on United, but I do not believe the Pilot Training issue at United is as convoluted as at Delta. I think both Delta’s and United’s pilots reached agreements with their respective companies, but I understand each group approached the crisis differently. Since United derives a greater percentage of its total revenue from International travel than any other U.S. carrier, perhaps the gaping hole in that segment of the market is causal to United’s lower capacity(??). What does the data say, Mr. Snyder?
SawTheMasters – I don’t think we’ll find any data that will give an answer to that yet, but the different in international vs domestic isn’t THAT much to support this kind of discrepancy. United is just being more conservative for some reason, but it’s unclear why.
Thank you for that update. I did see that United has taken out some VERY aggressive anti-Southwest advertising in the local Denver market. It will be interesting to see how United plays their cards. I think Mr. Kirby and his associates are working very hard to remain relevant in the domestic landscape. Like Desert Ghost, I hope ALL the airlines survive and prosper. In general, when our airlines are doing well, our economy is doing well.
The AS cuts in PDX and PAE seem pretty drastic. I would’ve thought at least a few of those markets were solid no matter what. Has AS added any flying from PDX over the last year?
Joe TX – In the last year? Well, they added Cancun and Fort Lauderdale for winter 2020, Denver started in Sep 2020, Kalispell has operated both last summer and will operate this summer, and San Luis Obispo will suppsedly start in June.
Didn’t know that the new small city concourse at DCA was going to allow it to upgauge all the 50 seaters to 70. Yay!
But I wonder why they couldn’t do that before? Seems the size difference shouldn’t have made much impact since they were just sitting in parking spots on the tarmac.
Bill – I don’t know what it was exactly, but it thought it had something to do with the number of parking spots available. The CRJ-700 is 13 feet longer than the ERJ-145 and it’s wingspan is 11 feet wider. So I assume that’s the issue.
That makes sense, it was pretty crowded out there at times. The news just keeps getting better at DCA. Hopefully the new security gets finished soon and the construction is complete for a while. Will be great to have all of the national hall behind security, will allow much more utilization of that space.
FYI – American’s CRJ-700s have no more than 65 seats. Its scope clause defines a “small” RJ as having 65 or fewer seats.
A quick review of AA’s PHX & LAX operation had a few surprises. One bank of PHX-California is cut from 5 down to 4, with a few cities only having 3 flights. PHX-BUR & ONT are still all RJ’s. PHX-EWR is back with two 321Neos. PHX-BZM was up gauged to a 319. Disappointed overall that AA isn’t taking WN & F9 adds head on.
At LAX, the biggest surprise was the return of CR7’s up and down the west coast, including LAX-SEA/PDX. (No thanks) LAX-DEN is up gauged to mainline.
Overall seems AA has more Eagle service in it’s hubs than Mainline….
I’m wondering how many Embraer ERJ-145s American will retire this year. Its seven ERJ-140s are being phased out soon, but American is adding 29 CRJ-700s and 22 E-170s to its fleet. That’s a lot of “new” lift. I understand American is close to being maxed out on scope, so something has to go. And I’d be floored if it’s not ERJ-145s.
Desert – Actually AA has a really management-friendly scope clause. It can fly as much aircraft with up to 65 seats as it wants, and that’s what these will end up being.
That’s true. I was thinking short-term. Based on what I’ve seen, American’s scope clause limits the total number of Eagle aircraft to 75% of its mainline narrowbody fleet. American is at or close to that limit. Large RJs (66-76 seats) are limited to 40% of mainline narrowbodies, and American is at or near that limit as well. The airline could theoretically fly nothing smaller than 65 seat aircraft, and it won’t surprise me if that’s the case in the not-too-distant future. The problem going forward is finding new aircraft that fit under the current U.S. scope clauses. While Embraer has stated it will build the current E-175s as long as there’s demand, the CRJ-700/900 and E-170 models aren’t actively being marketed or produced (although I’ve seen nothing from Embraer indicating that it won’t build new E-170s if an order came in for them). It’s building new 70-seat E-175s to comply with Delta and United’s restrictions, but that probably isn’t practical for American. Given the lack of new regional aircraft that fit within most current U.S. labor agreements, scope will be a sticky issue going forward.
Desert – Fair on short term, but then again, look at how aggressive American has been with capacity. It’s ramping up very quickly.
I am curious about something (well lots of things, but I think you can handle this one): You mention that the number of flights airlines are running are down by 2-30 percent from 2019. I am curious how far off seat count is from 2019.
Seconded! Would love to see ASMs and RSMs by operating airline and marketing brand over the last two years. I’m also curious of fleet and staff numbers over that time. Did any airlines early-out so many crew that they’ll be constrained in how fast they can return their fleets to service?
Thomasp168 – Those aren’t flights. Those are available seat miles.