Alaska Leaves LA-JFK While United Shifts 777 Plans

Schedule Changes

It was a game of inches in Airlineville this week. We didn’t see the massive cuts we get most weeks, but the residents were tinkering according to the data they sent to Cirium.

The Eskimo made a huge life decision when he decided to leave one of the biggest corporate hangouts in the world. We’ll see what this really means for his future. Further, the Widget did some cutting back of New York plans this week.

Meanwhile, the Globe seems to be getting closer to retiring some of those old clunkers that have been sitting in the garage for awhile.

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

Alaska Leaves The Big Route

After shrinking on transcon, Alaska has done it. October 6 is the last day of service between Los Angeles and New York/JFK. All flights have been canceled after that, but Alaska tells me it is going to take Newark up to 4x daily. Alaska says it has 12x daily JFK slots and will add flying to what it calls its “core West Coast markets” of Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego. Los Angeles is NOT on that list and neither is San Jose for that matter.

Alaska will also fly Anchorage – Barrow through the holiday season now. Some short hauls see smaller gauge out of Seattle, and Canada gets a haircut all the way out into November.

Allegiant Extends Again

It wasn’t too long ago that Allegiant extended its schedule through January 4. Now it has extended again, this time through February 15. January capacity now shows up 9 percent vs 2019.

American Stays Quiet

It was a quiet week for American. It did fix its Austin – Cincinnati mistake last week, restoring most service on its second daily flight in September. It also added back some flights on Labor Day, apparently realizing it cut just a bit too far. It has also given up on China through August now. I’m sure that will be extended again… and again… and again.

In July, American cut frequency on Miami – Quito along with Philly – Orlando and Las Vegas. I’m told that is due to delays in receiving 787s from the factory. And lastly, how about some rare good news for Canada? Toronto will get Philly service through Labor Day now, and Chicago will get a second daily flight in August.

Delta Takes LaGuardia Down

Delta brought September down nearly 10 percent and October 8 percent, but what happened beyond is more interesting. The airline took a big cut at LaGuardia into next year. It looks like its future numbers are similar to 2019’s, so I don’t know why it had more flights scheduled this time around.

It was more than just LaGuardia seeing cuts. Alaska was brought down a lot through the winter with a frequency being cut from Anchorage – Minneapolis/St Paul and Seattle along with Fairbanks – Seattle. Neither Fairbanks – Minneapolis/St Paul nor Salt Lake will operate. And it looks like Los Angeles – Palm Springs along with New York/LaGuardia – Lexington are gone for good.

Was there any growth? Sure, Atlanta – Vail is back in the schedule as is LaGuardia – Sarasota. Minneapolis got a boost to Denver, and LaGuardia will have Key West back for the holidays.

Southwest Tweaks Its Shoulder

Southwest opted to take this week to do some pruning in September and October. A whole slew of weekend-only routes will not operate, most of those touching Florida. Southwest has also continued the cancellation of Baltimore – LaGuardia along with Washington/National – Columbus and Kansas City through October. In fact, Washington/National was brought down a lot through October on several routes. On the other hand, Southwest did add a lot of new flights in August — 2 percent more capacity — as it does its normal tweaks.

Spirit Builds Milwaukee

Spirit launched Milwaukee service last week, and as it’s wont to do, it announced more flights the day it started. It will now add Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Phoenix, and Tampa.

United Grows the Other Half of Winter

It already bulked up on mountain/ski destinations for winter, and now it’s doing the same in warm weather spots. Florida, Las Vegas, and Phoenix all get a bunch of new frequencies on existing routes. Cleveland – Tampa will also return. For Hawaiʻi, however, it’s a mixed bag. The airline is pulling all scheduled domestic-configured 777s from mainland-Hawaiʻi. You’ll remember that those are the airplanes with the problematic Pratt & Whitney engines. The capacity is spread around now to other fleets, including the 777-300ER.

United also filed a whole bunch of football flights. Without posting the specific dates, you can probably figure out when these are operating: Austin – Northwest Arkansas, Birmingham – State College (PA), Boston – Greenville/Spartanburg, Boston – Tampa, Columbus – Eugene, Detroit – Madison, Newark – Knoxville, Green Bay – New Orleans and San Francisco, Lansing to Lincoln, and Pittsburgh – Knoxville.

Lastly, United is pulling the plug on Santa Maria (California).

Other Randomness

  • Aeroflot will bring back 1x weekly flight to Moscow from Washington/Dulles starting in July.
  • Aeromexico apparently got a little too aggressive at building up Houston – Mexico City. It has cut one frequency going forward.
  • Air Canada continues to whack at August, extending suspensions in Calgary – London; Halifax – Sydney (Nova Scotia); Montreal – Bogota, Lyon (which is gone until the holidays), and Toronto/City; and Vancouver – Puerto Vallarta. On the flip side, some leisure markets will return in August, including Calgary – Phoenix; Toronto – Fort Myers, Las Vegas; and Vancouver – San Diego.
  • Air France’s Miami hublet lives! Guadeloupe service will return in July.
  • Alitalia isn’t feeling good about Boston – Rome and JFK – Milan even though Italy is now open again. Those flights won’t operate in August.
  • Cape Air was going to fly daily from JFK to Nantucket this summer, but now it has pulled it down to only a couple flights each month in July and August.
  • Condor will not fly to Frankfurt from Anchorage or Baltimore this summer.
  • Emirates was going to fly a 777-300ER from Dubai to Dallas/Fort Worth this winter. Now it has downgauged that to a 777-200LR.
  • La Compagnie is pruning its Newark – Paris frequencies again, down to 5x weekly through the summer.
  • Neos has filed its winter schedule between New York/JFK and Milan/Malpensa with 2x weekly service.
  • WestJet took down European frequency through September in Calgary – London and Paris, Toronto – London, and Vancouver – London. It’s also ending Prince George – Abbotsford but will add a long-haul from Calgary to Charlottetown (PEI).

That’s all for next week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode of Skeds of air Lines. And if you can’t wait, here’s this week’s Cranky Network Weekly trends available for subscribers:

  • Alaska Abandons a Key Corporate Market
  • United Keeps Its Domestic 777s Grounded
  • Delta Puts the Squeeze on LaGuardia
  • United Pours Winter Capacity Into Florida
  • Southwest Culls Weekend Flying This Fall

30 comments on “Alaska Leaves LA-JFK While United Shifts 777 Plans

  1. Each week seems to provide more evidence that perhaps VX was not $2.6 billion well spent for the Eskimo.

      1. True. Was it worth it? Not like other airlines didn’t (or couldn’t) fill the gaps.

  2. The understory behind AS’ cut of JFK-LAX is how much AS has cut its capacity at LAX and esp. SFO relative to its competitors. Based on fall 2021 schedules, DL is now offering more seats and ASMs from SFO than AS. DL hasn’t added new routes but simply restored capacity at a faster rate than AS – the same story in LAX and other competitive markets.
    It is also noteworthy where carriers are restoring capacity faster and slower than their system averages. The Bay Area is generally weak for most carriers while the Mountain West (DEN and SLC esp.) are much stronger than 2019. Carriers like AS and B6 which have strength in one part of the country are having a harder time restoring capacity in markets where they are less strong. B6 is compounding that by choosing to diversify its network away from some of its strengths in favor of new markets. It isn’t a secret that AA is neglecting restoring capacity in PHL, LAX and DCA in favor of DFW, CLT and MIA. UA is clearly focused on DEN and IAH while EWR, ORD and SFO are coming back much more slowly. Some airlines are looking for opportunities to add new routes while others are just re-adding capacity in markets they served pre-pandemic and the competitive balance is changing. For example, based on fall schedules, Delta will be larger than JetBlue in Boston unless Delta pulls down further; even if they do, it shows that B6 is focused elsewhere to the exclusion of BOS.
    After a couple billion dollars sunk on Virgin America, AS recognizes its strength is still in the Pacific Northwest and that is where it is refocusing. They will try to find a few niche longhaul markets outside of the PNW but their withdrawal from the major transcons incentivizes other airlines to push hard on AS in the remaining non-PNW transcons it tries to retain.

    1. lol, Just last week, DL had another cut to August. You are comparing unfinished fall schedule cuts of DL to other airlines post-cut schedule.

      I didn’t realize NYC was a new market for B6. Keep focusing on everything that works for your narrative.

    2. I simply refuse to believe DL will run more seats or ASMs from SFO than Alaska until it actually happens. Comparing scheduled service this far in advance is utterly pointless.

      1. Even in Aug 2019, AS only flew about 5% more ASMs than Delta because Delta flies much more to the eastern US.
        The difference is that, for August, Delta’s capacity is down ~30%, Alaska is down ~60%, and United is down 50% (obviously heavily driven by international declines).
        AS’ average aircraft size from SFO is down by more than 25 seats.

        SFO Is obviously not a strong market; different carriers are prioritizing the return of capacity differently. Airlines that are being less reluctant to return capacity are in a position to move up in carrier rank in competitive markets.

    3. I have no idea where these presumptions are coming from, so I’m going to present the actual numbers by month using Cirium data. ASMs are useless from a competitive standpoint, because it just gives you a bonus if you fly further away. That doesn’t help judge presence in a city. So let’s start with departing seats since that was shown before:

      Airline Code AS DL
      Jan 2021 125,767 95,050
      Feb 2021 118,598 84,773
      Mar 2021 144,001 101,320
      Apr 2021 168,385 98,210
      May 2021 158,021 112,664
      Jun 2021 160,556 116,707
      Jul 2021 170,580 148,442
      Aug 2021 172,290 170,563
      Sep 2021 172,014 184,917
      Oct 2021 270,644 204,055
      Nov 2021 323,651 206,332
      Dec 2021 365,124 215,913

      Alaska is pretty accurate through September, but Delta is only accurate through August, though I do wonder if that Delta August number is really going to be flown. Anything after that point is not worth looking at. But more importantly, look at the number of departures from SFO.

      Airline Code AS DL
      Travel Month Flights Flights
      Jan 2021 1,254 755
      Feb 2021 1,176 668
      Mar 2021 1,398 801
      Apr 2021 1,591 780
      May 2021 1,572 842
      Jun 2021 1,595 882
      Jul 2021 1,667 996
      Aug 2021 1,680 1,085
      Sep 2021 1,661 1,165
      Oct 2021 2,365 1,282
      Nov 2021 2,686 1,290
      Dec 2021 2,978 1,348

      Alaska has much smaller airplanes that it uses, so it can offer a whole lot more flights than Delta does. That provides more utility.

      Lastly, if we look at August, Alaska has 27 destinations from SFO while Delta has 7. Just because Delta can pump a bunch of seats into its hubs doesn’t make it anywhere near Alaska in relevance.

      Of course, Alaska is nothing compared to United, and it may very well decided SFO isn’t worth focusing on. But Delta is just not even in the conversation.

      1. In other words, for DL (and AA is very similar), SFO is one of the largest outstations in the system, but an outstation with robust service to all hubs (possibly plus one focus city, depending on how you view BOS) and little or no other service elsewhere. AS is a much smaller airline and therefore has less traffic to route through its other hubs but has a variety of service to many more destinations.

      2. Capacity in the airline industry is measured by ASMs, not seats or departures flown.
        For 2019, Delta was already the second largest airline based on O&D revenue from SFO and that gap will grow based on the capacity

        1. I think everybody reading this knows there is more than one way to measure capacity.

          Long story short – DL is pumping an impressive (to me) amount of volume into SFO from its hubs but is still zero factor for originating passengers in this market. DL used to have more presence actually, I remember flights from SFO to OGG and HNL, I was on them! Long time ago.

          Frequent flyers in the Bay area are mostly United followed by Alaska and Southwest (not sure in which order) then the rest are clumped together in the distant “also receiving votes” category (college football reference).

          So if we’re talking about some kind of “battle for the Bay area,” none of this DL ASM stuff is going to move the needle without a significant ramp up in destinations which I don’t think anybody foresees at this time. Especially given DL’s “now you see it, now you don’t” SJC focus city boondoggle.

  3. The Spirit expansion in MKE is yet another example of them sitting all over Southwest. Although no one commented on it, Spirit’s announced growth last week on MHT-Florida is yet another example. Just as AirTran did when they started going head-to-head with WN in BWI, Spirit is following the same game plan.

  4. If our (and Delta’s other) RDU-JFK flight in mid-October, which was downgauged/downgraded to a CRJ-900 from an Airbus A319 overnight Friday/Saturday is (are) representative of Delta’s other JFK markets, then the Widget’s cuts in NYC are hardly confined to LGA.

    Thus far, our RDU-JFK flight during Xmas holiday season remains unchanged from the original booking months ago with the A319 still scheduled for our, and other RDU-JFK flights.

    But, Delta’s recent downgauging/capacity reduction for its mid-October NYC-RDU-NYC flights is neither unexpected nor confined to that airline as United downgaugued/downgraded our mid-October and Xmas holiday season EWR-RDU flights (also booked eons ago) to Embraer 170s from mainline Airbus & Boeing aircraft quite some time ago (IIRC, during May).

    So, again, Delta’s sked changes and aircraft downgauging/downgrading reducing capacity in the NYC-RDU-NYC market are in line with at least one of its legacy peers, and also suggests that traffic will remain below the comparable period in 2019 when Delta’s mainline Boeing 717s were increasingly seen (or even flown on our trips!) on its JFK-RDU, JFK-CLT, LGA-CLT, or even JFK-CHS sectors.

  5. It’s interesting how DL shifted SFO-SEA in mid-september to a different combination of aircraft with (almost) the same capacity. When I booked it a week ago it looked like it was 3-4 A220s, 2 daily A319’s and maybe 1 E175. Now it’s 4 E175’s and 2 737-800s. Before the pandemic it was pretty solidly mostly A220s (and before those 717s) and 1-2 737-800s or A319s depending on the day. SJC-SEA is now all E175’s, when pre-pandemic it was mostly A220s. I’m curious where all those A220s were moved and if the pandemic has caused the strategy of how DL uses the A220s to change and shift away from high-competition coastal short haul routes. It’s also interesting to note (and fortunate I guess for passengers) how the only DL connection aircraft that ever seems to be in the SEA hub is the E175. I think it will be interesting how the Seattle hub comes out of the pandemic, especially when it comes to long haul travel, as well as more generally how competition with AA& AS in SEA and AA & B6 in BOS plays out for DL.

  6. The original post has this observation:

    “Delta brought September down nearly 10 percent and October 8 percent, but what happened beyond is more interesting. The airline took a big cut at LaGuardia into next year. It looks like its future numbers are similar to 2019’s, so I don’t know why it had more flights scheduled this time around. … It was more than just LaGuardia seeing cuts. Alaska was brought down a lot through the winter with a frequency being cut from Anchorage – Minneapolis/St Paul and Seattle along with Fairbanks – Seattle. Neither Fairbanks – Minneapolis/St Paul nor Salt Lake will operate. And it looks like Los Angeles – Palm Springs along with New York/LaGuardia – Lexington are gone for good. …. Was there any growth? Sure, Atlanta – Vail is back in the schedule as is LaGuardia – Sarasota. Minneapolis got a boost to Denver, and LaGuardia will have Key West back for the holidays.”

    To which Tim Dunn replied:

    “The understory behind AS’ cut of JFK-LAX is how much AS has cut its capacity at LAX and esp. SFO relative to its competitors. … It is also noteworthy where carriers are restoring capacity faster and slower than their system averages. … It isn’t a secret that AA is neglecting restoring (sic) capacity in PHL, LAX and DCA in favor of DFW, CLT and MIA. UA is clearly focused on DEN and IAH while EWR, ORD and SFO are coming back much more slowly.

    —————————

    To which I reply – and add:

    On the surface, Mr. Dunn seems to be criticizing Alaska, United, and American for doing pretty much the same thing as Delta. Why? One of the advantages airlines have over most other forms of mass transportation is the ability to focus their assets in places where they’re likely to provide better returns. I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record (and I also realize I’m dating myself with that reference) but it must be remembered that many of these changes are short-term reactions to the current situation. It’ll be interesting to see how all of this shakes out over the next few years.

    1. You missed the point.
      While focusing on all of the route-specific cuts, many people are losing sight of the big picture.
      Most individual route changes don’t really matter in the scope of things.
      A high profile route like JFK-LAX for AS is an exception but it is part of a larger strategic shift which was underway long before covid away from the high profile transcons back to AS’ core, historic routes up and down the west coast and to the PNW.
      It is more significant, even if it is not being presented, as to where there are significant changes either in ranking of carriers in a specific market by capacity or where so many other carriers are adding capacity that the dominant carrier’s position will be eroded. LAX is an example of the former while MIA is an example of the latter.
      Multiple airlines have overscheduled beyond their LGA slot holdings for the winter of 2021 and beyond. It is not likely that the FAA will expand the number of slots which just means that there is a jockeying for share in some markets which will be met with the reality that growing in a market like LGA-BNA or RDU will have to be funded by slots that have been used for some other route.
      I get that CF’s focus with these updates is on individual routes but the big picture matters and that is becoming more apparent as airlines move into recovery and stability post pandemic. Short-term frequent schedule changes are settling into long-term strategic changes.

      1. @Tim,
        With all due respect, all I can see is the “point” that you have an obvious double standard when it comes to judging airlines. It’s quite obvious that you feel Delta rarely makes mistakes and the other carriers rarely make good decisions. We’ll see how many of these changes end up sticking in the long term. None of us knows at this point.

  7. Makes sense that AS would drop LAX-JFK; they have an inferior hard product to everyone else flying the route, and can codeshare on AA to cover anyone needing to get from A to B (and AA has the frequency to do so). Never mind that yields on the route are poor for the length: $240-280 R/T in the back of the plane.

    1. AS and AA can’t code-share on all flights, and LAX/SFO aren’t in scope, but presumably, if AS exits the market, then they should be able to down the road.

      1. That’s gotta be a big piece of this IMO.

        Let AS flyers use the better AA x-con service, AS still keeps a piece of the action but does not have to beat their brains in and spend tons of money to develop an ultra specific hard product (and incur the fleet commonality and IRROPS issues related to that) in order to achieve, at best, 4th or 5th place in those markets (given AS will never get any east coast originating pxs). Sounds smart IYAM.

  8. As pulling JFK-LAX comes as no surprise. AS can’t compete on premium product at JFK vs. B6/AA/DL and UA. Doubt AS will continue JFK-SFO in 2022 for the same reasons. As to EWR-LAX four daily, on AS, again, this seems like a way to park some slots. AS has less competition at EWR, but UA dominates and B6 is very much a factor and both offer a pretty snazzy premium product. The real issue for AS in NYC is lack of point of sale and small corporate traffic on these flights, relative to the others. I’d expect AS to successfully continue serving SEA, SAN, and PDX. The rest though, will go. SJC to NYC has never worked well for anyone who’s flown it.

    1. I could see AS keeping the flights from SFO given its greater overall importance to the airline than LAX.

      Remember AS also has x-cons from DCA to LAX and SFO but both are just 1x and both compete with just one other flight, each of which also uses a traditional plane (DL to LAX, UA to SFO) so that seems quite sustainable and likely very profitable.

      However I’m not sure whether AS should do SFO-IAD given the sheer volume of flights and seats UA has on that route. Maybe BWI could be a better choice if they have to serve a 2nd airport in the DC area from SFO given the 1x daily restriction into DCA?

  9. @CF: When you said American “has also given up on China through August now” – did you mean specifically not having a non-stop option? Because they still seem to be flying/selling the 2x weekly DFW-ICN-PVG using the authorities that they are entitled to, and this now seems to have been extended well into W21 and S22 as well…

    On the other hand, DL doesn’t seem to be selling any of their China flights beyond the S21 season. Any insights?

    1. KS – I’m talking about the nonstop schedules that were filed and are now gone. I can’t imagine we’ll see China demand return for a really, really long time the way things are going. If I were an airline, I’d assume I won’t be flying much to China for ages.

      1. Thanks. Yup I agree, China traffic is going to take quite some time. But I am surprised that DL is not even selling SEA/DTW-ICN-PVG beyond Oct. Unless they plan on changing the routings/schedules?

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