Two More Airlines Set Schedules Through Year-End While American Reorients in Phoenix

Schedule Changes

Summer continues to inch forward in Airlineville with fits and starts of activity punctuated by moments of cautious panic about the reports of the Delta variant’s spread around town. Will this cause residents to crawl back inside? So far, it doesn’t seem that way, but you know everyone is glued to their TV sets.

The Cirium data this week shows that both Ms Blue and the Eskimo have set their plans through year-end. Meanwhile, the Eagle spent a lot of time thinking about the desert this winter, and how it wants to do thinks differently than it has in the past.

The Heart cut back plans in October, but could this be the last time the Heart needs to make a big cut? We shall see.

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

Air Canada Cuts Long Haul In Winter

Canada may be opening, but Air Canada is cutting long-haul. Auckland and Sydney are gone through the winter season (until the end of March). Same goes for Toronto – Lima and Mumbai as well as Montreal – Shanghai. Athens won’t fly during December or January. Montreal – Tokyo/Narita; Toronto – Beijing, Lima, Shanghai/Pudong, and Tokyo/Haneda; and Vancouver – Beijing and Shanghai/Pudong all won’t operate through year-end.

In slightly better news if you live in Quebec… Quebec City gets new flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Alaska Takes December Down

Alaska has taken December seat miles down 19.1 percent. This puts it down 3 percent vs 2019. Other than that, there wasn’t much going on, but Alaska did remove Paine Field – Tucson during the summer.

Allegiant Does Some Late Cuts

Allegiant took down flights for the first two weeks of August with up to 20 flights being canceled on peak days. In the second half of August, it has a much lower schedule, and that wasn’t impacted. There didn’t seem to be a clear pattern to these cuts other than Bellingham and Cincinnati taking a hit. It could be a cut for operational reasons.

American Reworks Phoenix

American has phixed up Phoenix this off-season. It is adding a daily flight to Albuquerque, Bakersfield, Boise, Columbus, Denver, El Paso, Flagstaff, Fresno, Las Vegas (+2x), Los Angeles (+3x), Minneapolis/St Paul, Monterey, Ontario, Palm Springs, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Tucson (+2x), and Yuma (+2x). Meanwhile, it is cutting a daily flight to Cedar Rapids, Charlotte, Chicago/O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth (-2x), Grand Junction, Kahului, Līhuʻe, Madison, Memphis, New York/JFK, Philadelphia (-2x), Santa Fe, and Sioux Falls.

Delta Doesn’t Do Much

Remember how Delta said it would stop doing as many schedule changes to help keep phone volumes down? Well, it didn’t do much this week at all. There were a few minor changes, but hopefully we’ll see the airline do less and less now since it still can’t fix its phone problem.

Frontier Grows Atlanta, DFW, and Vegas

Frontier announced this week another round of growth. The first half was loaded in Cirium this week. New markets from Atlanta are Baltimore, Cancun, Chicago/O’Hare, Detroit, Houston/Intercontinental, Montego Bay, New Orleans, St Louis, and West Palm Beach. From Dallas/Fort Worth it’s Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Tampa. Las Vegas gets Des Moines, Harlingen, Minneapolis/St Paul, New Orleans, and Sioux Falls.

Hawaiian Brings Interisland Down in Oct

Hawaiian has adjusted its schedule to reduce interisland flights out into October now. Cuts were a big heavier from Honolulu to the Big Island than elsewhere, but no routes were eliminated. It’s just a continuation of previous interisland trends.

JetBlue Brings November and December Down

JetBlue took November down 19.7 percent and December down 20.6 percent. That puts them at flat and +1 percent respectively versus 2019 and appears to be a flyable schedule for the airline through year-end.

Southwest Adjusts October Down

After making September realistic, Southwest has now brought October down 5.8 percent to make it a flyable schedule as well. This was the last of the old schedule, and I’ll be curious if November and beyond needs to be brought down at all. It could be more minor changes from here on out.

Spirit Adds a Few

Spirit filed a few new routes, mostly to the new XPL airport outside Tegucigalpa. It will fly there from Fort Lauderdale, Houston/Intercontinental, and Miami. It will also add intra-Florida flying from Pensacola to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

United Swaps Newark for Chicago

United has increased a few routes from Chicago in its September schedule. They’re mostly east-west, more business-y route while some leisure routes from Newark were cut back.

Other Randomness

  • Alitalia has extended its suspension of Boston – Rome and Milan – New York through the summer schedule. That’s after the new ITA takes over for the old Alitalia, but somehow it’s still in the eventual plan, someday.
  • China Airlines has suspended JFK – Taipei and kept SF – Taipei as a weekly flight through the summer schedule.
  • China Eastern extended its pandemic schedule through October with just two weekly flights from JFK to Shanghai/Pudong.
  • Contour is bringing back some previously planned flights starting in mid-October. Look for Indianapolis – Milwaukee, Nashville, and Pittsburgh along with Milwaukee – Pittsburgh to re-enter the schedule.
  • JAL has canceled its US beach flying — Guam to Narita and Honolulu to Osaka and Nagoya — to the end of October. The lone survivor: Honolulu still gets a weekly flight to Narita.
  • Jin Air has left Guam – Seoul/Incheon through end of schedule. I feel like they’ve done this before. I can’t remember, but I don’t really trust it.
  • Korean has implemented a big downgauge through the entire winter season. The A380 will not be flying to the US. Honolulu sees 747-8s substituted with A330s on several occasions. And some 777 routes are put on 787-9s instead.
  • Sun Country has extended its schedule through Memorial Day. I didn’t see anything particularly notable.
  • WestJet brought September down 26.1 percent which puts it down 40 percent vs 2019. I guess we’ll call that accurate? It’s hard to know with the Canadians just opening things up now.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode of Skeds of air Lines. And if you can’t wait, here’s what subscribers to Cranky Network Weekly are reading this week:

  • American Reorients in Phoenix
  • United Makes a Slight Shift Away From Leisure
  • Avelo Moves to a Peaked Schedule
  • Air Canada Revises Winter Long-Haul Down
  • Southwest Makes a Seasonal Shift in October

64 comments on “Two More Airlines Set Schedules Through Year-End While American Reorients in Phoenix

  1. What do we make of all the shifting in Phoenix? My guess is improvements for better hub utilization. These don’t feel like O&D based changes to me.

    If so, to what end? Getting more passengers connecting over PHX instead of DFW? That would make sense if so.

    1. It feels like AA is trying to make PHX more of a western-focused hub? Hard to tell from the context of the article (no offense Cranky – your writeup is based on trends), but I see more eastern destinations cut and west coast destinations boosted. Perhaps taking some domestic connections away from LAX and moving them to PHX is my thought.

    2. Bill – I think this is more O&D related. It looks like PHX as a destination more than an origin. But I really don’t know for sure.

  2. JetBlue cutting back to 52 flights on Sundays in EWR in November. Yes, they are opening a pilot base there, but that’s only because the JetBlue pilot ANNUAL base bid opens soon, meaning that B6 will save money on EWR hotel rooms, not because they are running 200+ flights a day there. One poster recently criticized Delta’s Boston operation for not having a pilot base in BOS. I would MUCH rather have Delta’s position in Boston without a pilot base than JetBlue’s paltry 52 flights a day in EWR with a pilot base.

    Yes, JetBlue has made some good moves in EWR during the pandemic. And they have elbowed into LHR. And the NEA is huge for them. It’s as if AA is offering itself up as a sacrificial lamb to JetBlue. But unless B6 can grow into CLT, DFW, PHX and/or ORD, it will remain a strong regional player (NYC/BOS) which is a synonym for “takeover target.”

    1. JetBlue cut back its EWR schedule to 52 in November, because it needs those planes to fly the increased schedules required in LGA/DCA/JFK as it’s anticipating the end of slot waivers. JetBlue has consistently said that it expects to fly 70 to 80 flights a day at EWR. The fact that it is willing to open a crew base there + temporarily cut back on its schedule should indicate that it has secured the gates + “slots” needed to be able to operate at least 70 to 80 flights a day there. We will find out if it can expand past that. As it continues to get airplane through heavy checks, refurbishment and take in new A220 deliveries, it will be able to run a larger schedule as we get into Q1. You will see them with probably 70 flights a day by March/April when EWR runway work finally finishes and airlines start to move into the new Terminal A.

      EWR is not a focus city on its own. It’s part of JetBlue’s NYC focus city strategy. It’s not there to challenge UA’s position in NJ. I’d be very surprised if it ends up with more flights than DL’s BOS operation. It would be a good surprise though!

      As for the takeover target, that’s a tougher conversation to have. Given how well integrated it will be with AA, it’s most likely takeover target is AA. Given AA’s cost issues, I don’t see how a merger would be better for AA than what NEA provides. Keep in mind that LGA is one of their worst performing stations (like bottom 1 to 2 percentile). They have been losing money hand over fist in LGA. As long as AA is in this half zombie state where it has too much debt and high cost to be able to sustain hubs in competitive locations, it will need B6’s lower cost and better product/reputation in the northeast to keep up its presence there. As for other possible takeover partners, I don’t see how DOJ could allow DL to take them over. UA would be a hard sell too. WN would probably be allowed, but they have no use for all that JFK slots. B6 is too large to merge with AS and not be the surviving brand.

      Given AA’s current problems, NEA definitely provides it with value. Of course, I’d say B6 is getting the better end of the deal, since it now has access to AA’s customers. But then again, AS also is benefiting similarly from its partnership with AA.

      1. I know this may make me sound like a broken record, but I still see value for a merger between B6 & AS. And with such a merger rapped around AA, things could become far more interesting for all three than they already are with the current partnerships in place.

      2. In baseball terms, your post above would be called “a swing and a miss.” If 70-80 flights a day constitutes the need for a crew base, WN would have bases in BNA, STL, and LAX. Of course, JetBlue maintained a crew base in LGB long after it proved itself the biggest loser in JetBlue history. It had what, 20 flights a day, and maintained its crew base status? And you fail to mention that JetBlue Flight Attendants are bailing in droves because they are being forced to cover all 3 NYC airports while on Reserve. When American tried that, their FAs starting showing up at the Welfare Office in uniform, applying for Food Stamps.

        But your biggest miss here is JetBlue acquiring AA. You have it completely backwards: JetBlue will be the one being bought. And not by AA. It will be acquired by the airline that has the most to gain by exponentially increasing its NYC footprint, by becoming arguably the largest airline in BOS and FLL and SJU. And it will effectively have Delta contained to ATL in the East. Yes, the acquiring carrier will have to deal with JetBlue’s ill-conceived “3 Fleet Types for 3 NYC Airports” strategy, but it has proven itself adept at managing non-compatible fleet types in the past. And, once DOJ approves the deal, Delta will have the tacit green light to move on Alaska.

        1. Well, they have pilot bases in Orlando and LAX also and those have fewer flights than EWR. Keep in mind that they always need a base in west coast due to mint. So LGB had to be maintained for possibly the most important part of their network. Having a base at EWR should give an indication of how important NYC is to JetBlue’s future network.

          As for FAs, I believe the legacies all have NYC co-bases between the 3 airports. Employee burn out has been a common theme this summer as the airlines are ramping up schedule. If this becomes a prolong problem or if they have the ability to grow to over 100 flights a day, I’m sure it will be no problem to set up a FA base in EWR.

          I don’t think I have things backwards. I’m expecting the smaller carrier to be the one bought. I wouldn’t have a problem if WN wanted to buy out B6. I just don’t see their current philosophy working in NYC. They got a much bigger headache to deal with in NK.

          1. Once HP bought US and then again when HPUS bought AA, didn’t we learn that the smaller carrier might indeed be the acquirer?

            1. Were those not bankruptcy “acquisitions”? Big difference between a smaller carrier buying a bankrupt airline than buying a going concern. Now, if AA declares Chapter 11, that’s a different story.

            2. No, they weren’t actually in BR. Just had to dov primarily with the market capitalization and debt loads of the respective companies.

          2. First, the Big 3 make it clear from Day 1 to their FAs that being based in NY means covering all 3 airports. At JetBlue, it’s always been Kennedy only. Now that FAs who live on Long Island will have to cover Newark, sick calls and resignations will increase.

            To your point about WN dealing with NK. Yes, NK is sitting all over WN. And with NK getting many more airplanes very soon, it will grow in many WN markets. But what data do you have showing NK is impacting WN’s yields and/or loads? If you can show that WN’s yields are being negatively impacted by Spirit’s presence, then you have a case. Otherwise, it becomes more apparent that Spirit likes going into Southwest cities because Spirit faces less competition from the OTHER carriers in those cities. However, if you have data to the contrary, please share it.

            JetBlue has benefited tremendously from its political ties over the years. Without Senator Bradley, JetBlue would have never gained even one spot at JFK. Without Senator Schumer, the slot waivers would have expired by now. Let’s see how far JetBlue gets if it moves its HQ out of New York, as it recently threatened.

            On a somewhat related note, please consider the effect June Morris, the founder of Morris Air, who recently passed, had on JetBlue. If she had not hired David Neeleman, there would be no JetBlue. No Azul. No Breeze. Perhaps no West Jet as well.

            1. That’s not true. EWR has always been part of the NYC FA co-base. This is not a new thing. EWR had plenty of non-focus city flights even pre-COVID. where do you think the staffing was coming from? For pilots, the NYC base never included EWR. They cannot get EWR included in the NYC base without negotiating with the unions. That’s why they opened a new base.

              As for WN and NK, I posted a bunch of data out of FLL on a.net back in the days. NK is having a great time expanding in large WN stations. You should take a look at average fare from several middle of the country markets to Florida where WN has monopoly and compare that to numbers where they don’t have monopoly. This NK invasion into the heartlands is really bad for WN.

              I don’t see why you think JetBlue will move its HQ out of New York. Why would it do that when Schumer is the Senate majority leader. Do you think they are that stupid?

            2. As I predicted, B6 will not move out of NYC as long as the politicians are on their side.

          3. WN does not need B6. It has proved successful growing organically throughout the pandemic and post its Airtrain merger to grab its MDW slots.

  3. Meanwhile, two airlines – American and Spirit (no, they are not the same airline), started today with +/- 200 cancelled flights which is 7% of today’s schedule for AA and 26% for NK. Every continental US large jet airline except for AS and DL had a least 30% of their flights delayed.
    Operationally flyable schedules are still quite elusive for many US airlines.

    1. The weather channel is your friend, Tim. There’s a good reason AA cancelled flights this morning and last night.

      1. AA has pushed an increasing percentage of its flights over DFW; thunderstorms in Texas are not unusual.
        If an airline cannot reset their operation overnight, there is a problem. Their cancellation rate to start the day is marginally better than it was all day yesterday.
        AA stretched its schedule beyond its resources and that is true for Spirit and JetBlue.
        Flyable schedules are a lofty goal for the fall and winter – but there will be bad weather then also.

        1. ROTFLMAO considering you were the same guy who said DL’s far larger operational meltdowns surrounding every holiday in the past year were no big deal. I mean, seriously?!?!

    2. Tim, a while ago Delta had a bunch of flight cancellations and you came on here and argued again and again that airlines don’t exist to fly their flight schedules, they exist to transport people. In the case of Delta, you argued (and fell on your sword again and again) that as long as Delta was able to rebook those folks on another flight, there was no harm done. Wouldn’t that be the case for American and Spirit? Based on your previous logic, there’s no harm here until you can prove that passengers were actually inconvenienced. Are you able to prove that? Because otherwise, per your previous logic, all of those cancellations — and therefore your post — just don’t matter.

      1. first, please provide a link to the quote that I said that airlines don’t exist to fly their schedules. People do buy tickets based on schedules and airlines have a responsibility to fly them regardless of whether it is on the day of flight or six weeks in advance due to repeated massive schedule changes.
        and second, Delta never impacted anywhere near the number of flights that American or Spirit are now or Southwest did and Delta was blocking seats and running a 45% load factor so it was able to accommodate most passengers with very little effort. As much as you and others would like to equate Delta’s one or two days of holiday cancellations during the lowest point of travel demand to what is happening this summer to multiple other airlines, they are nowhere near on the same scale. Delta did fix its operational problems on several winter holidays and they are now addressing their call handling problems including by allowing basic economy passengers to use automated tools to rebook.
        Other airlines now are running 80% plus load factors which means that cancelling 5% plus of their operation has enormous impacts on passengers. You don’t have to convince me but the tens of thousands of passengers that are stuck at airports on a daily basis – largely on a couple of airlines.

        btw, Denver is seeing much higher ATC delay rates than it did in the past for the same reason DFW is this year. A few airlines are pouring on the growth in a few airports and the level of infrastructure – runways and taxiways – hasn’t changed. ATC might not even be staffed at pre-covid levels. No airport is going to be able to reliably support rapid growth and that is exactly what is happening.

        and, yes, DOT complaint ratios will show how upset customers are with their treatment by airlines. Delta’s system on-time ranking and complaint ratios didn’t budge during its holiday cancellation issues. I can assure you that won’t be the case with other airlines this summer.

        1. Sorry, Tim, I stand corrected. You said “Airlines don’t exist to move planes. They exist to move passengers.” That is literally the first comment on Cranky’s piece about the Thanksgiving meltdown on 12/15/20.

          But today you said — and I am copy-and-pasting — “People do buy tickets based on schedules and airlines have a responsibility to fly them.”

          Do you see why you have burned your credibility around here? Delta doesn’t have to fly their schedule as long as they move passengers, but AA and Spirit “have a responsibility” to fly their schedules. Despite weather problems, apparently.

          More Tim data: “Delta never impacted near the number of flights that American or Spirit are.” Delta cancelled 300+ flights on 11/26/20 (and almost 200 the next day). Per your statement above, AA/Spirit have cancelled +/- 200 flights today. And the AA cancellations have weather as a factor. Maybe it will get worse throughout the day, but as of now you are not correct.

          And what does Denver have to do with anything? Did you decide to throw in a mention of a United hub to muddy the waters further?

          I guess I am just mystified about why you do what you do. When you retired, did you set a goal of trying to type the most words in comments on blogs? Did you decide that it would be an interesting intellectual exercise to twist yourself into knots to defend Delta? I just don’t get it. And I’m a Delta Platinum who strongly prefers to fly Delta. I just don’t understand why you spend your time this way.

          1. Jerry,
            please let us know what single day – let alone multiple days in a row – that Delta has cancelled more than 200 mainline flights/day and also when there was not weather involved. The DOT maintains on-time data by flight number by day. Delta’s operational issues were not only anywhere near the size of what has been happening at multiple airlines this summer but they weren’t repeated day after day.
            Delta’s system load factor for Nov, Dec, and Jan never exceeded 41% for the month. Delta had thousands of seats available even on the days it had operational issues.
            Despite Delta’s operational issues, they still ended up in the top half of the industry for operational performance for the winter months and in their usual position of #2 in the industry for 2020 and for the 1st quarter. The DOT also publishes that data.
            This isn’t a discussion about data, though. This is about the ability or not of airlines to provide reasonably reliable air transportation. As much as you want to try to justify American or Spirit or JetBlue’s performance by trying to bring up Delta’s failures – or your perceptions of them – thousands of AA customers at DFW, NK passengers at MCO and FLL, or B6 passengers at EWR and JFK don’t care what Delta did.
            The airline industry has received tens of billions in government aid and a number of US airlines is providing a lower quality of service than it has in decades. Not surprisingly the airlines that are doing the worst on operational performance and having repeated operational issues are the ones that are trying a dozen new strategic initiatives and doing nothing particularly well.

            Some airlines accepted poor performance pre-covid – B6 has been #9 out of 10 US airlines for a long time – and they continue to do poorly. There is a wider gap in operational performance in the industry right now than there has been in years; some airlines have learned from their mistakes while others are content to offer poor operational reliability.

            Nobody is defending or attacking anyone or any airline. I am raising legitimate issues of operational reliability which most definitely involve the future schedules which airlines are publishing.

            1. Tim, do you not remember falling on your sword about this last year? Look at this page, then look at your comments. You spent hours of your life on this topic: https://crankyflier.com/2020/12/15/a-closer-look-at-deltas-thanksgiving-meltdown/ There were ~130 cancellations one day, more than 300 the next day, then ~190 the day after that, per Cranky’s chart. And to remind you of the point that you entirely ignored in your response, that is when you said that airlines don’t exist to move planes, they exist to move passengers — which 100% contradicts your comment this morning that “airlines have a responsibility” to fly their schedules. It COULD NOT BE MORE CLEAR that you are applying one standard to Delta and another to AA and Spirit. And as a reminder, the Delta issues were NOT weather-caused while the current issues are affected by weather.

              And you are continuing to try to deflect. What does government aid have to do with this conversation? Weather forced AA to cancel flights and poor planning caused Delta to cancel flights, so you injected government aid into the conversation? Why? You mention pre-covid performance. Nothing we’re talking about is pre-covid. So what does that have to do with the conversation?

              Tim Dunn, above: “I am raising legitimate issues of operational reliability.” Tim Dunn, last December, singing a different, Delta-friendly tune: “Airlines don’t exist to move planes. They exist to move passengers. If they succeeded at doing that even with their hiccups, then they succeeded at what they are intended to do and did it far better than a zillion other operational issues that don’t draw your attention.”

              “Nobody is defending any airline.” Sure Tim. See paragraph above.

              You mention something about me trying to justify JetBlue’s performance. I haven’t mentioned JetBlue once. Please stop putting words in my mouth. Thanks in advance.

            2. Well, at least an inconvenienced passenger during the meltdown has the hope of getting connected to an AA agent on the phone; rather than days later when it was during DL’s meltdown (by which time their trip was already over).

            3. I called Delta to get a definitive answer on operational reliability!

              Been on hold for 7 hrs 37 mins now…

            4. Jerry,
              First, nowhere in my original post today did I single out AAL and yet AAL’s defenders have come out in full force on this site. And yet AA’s operational issues are being discussed on multiple other sites but no one else seems to feel a need to deflect with whatever happened to Delta.
              Nowhere, absolutely nowhere, did I justify Delta’s cancellations or its call hold times. I have repeatedly said that the impact to passengers was far less and you have yet to address that point.
              Third, it doesn’t make AAL passengers feel any better that you are trying to excuse AAL’s performance because DAL had what you think was as bad or worse. I looked at not just CF’s data but what the DOT reported. I find precisely ONE day where Delta cancelled more than two hundred flights. ONE DAY. Let me know what I missed.
              Delta’s complaint ratio ranking according to DOT data was unchanged.
              My original statement was that AAL failed to reset its operation this morning. Weather happens. I get that. There are multiple people on other sites that are describing AA employees walking away from counters leaving passengers stranded. Weather is not the issue. Failing to be able to deal w/ customers is the issue. Delta did not leave tens of thousands of passengers in terminals. Few airlines have had as hard of a trouble resetting their operation after thunderstorms as AA is having now.
              And, again, since you think I am defending Delta and bashing American, what Spirit is doing is even worse.
              How about instead of trying to defend American’s actions by throwing dirt at someone else, why don’t you let us know why it is so hard for you to admit that AAL’s operation is an operational disaster today and weather is only part of the problem? Multiple other airlines fly to the Metroplex and aren’t in meltdown mode.
              And then let us know how long it will be before American, JetBlue and Spirit and other ULCCs publish schedules that they can reliably operate.

            5. Tim, you completely missed my point. I am not trying to defend American (or attack Delta). Weather happens. Ops challenges happen. AA is clearly having a rough day. My point is to use your own words to show that you are applying a double standard and your opinions are thus not credible. That’s all. You have a long history on this site of supporting Delta (and to a lesser extent Southwest) at the expense of other airlines. I identified an extreme, clear, directly quoted example of your double standard this morning and called you on it. To repeat, when Delta cancelled flights, you said “Airlines don’t exist to move planes. They exist to move passengers.” This morning, when AA cancelled flights, you said that airlines have a “responsibility” to fly their schedules. I’m calling you on that. It’s inconsistent and a clear example of a double standard. Most of the time I skim very quickly through your posts because they are a strange stew of Delta fanboyism and irrelevant, distracting facts and I can get better information elsewhere. Today I have shown — in your own, directly quoted words — exactly why.

              I have shown that you contradicted yourself with your own words, in direct quotes. You have not addressed this. Instead, you have talked about pre-covid performance, United’s Denver hub and complaint ratios — none of which is relevant to our discussion. I have seen you try to distract and deflect dozens of times. Today I am calling you on it.

              You say you did not justify Delta’s cancellations. Last year, you literally said that “and yet in all of that data analysis you can’t seem to find any evidence of widescale passenger inconvenience, now can you? Airlines don’t exist to move planes. They exist to move passengers.” How is that not justifying a huge inconvenience?

              If I spent the dozens of hours a week that you do typing out opinions on the Internet, I would want people to trust what I have to say. I’m hoping that I might inspire you to be more honest in your posts.

              Cranky, thanks for humoring me. I know that I’ve probably pushed the line a bit today.

              Best to all of you.

            6. Jerry,
              You wrapped your entire thesis of a double standard around my statement that airlines don’t exist to move airplanes but passengers. Nowhere in that statement have I said that schedules don’t matter.
              I did repeatedly say then and say now that the level of passenger inconvenience is what matters. If AA could have cancelled every other flight and rebooked passengers on the operating flights, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
              We also wouldn’t be having this discussion if American had stopped its operational problems months ago.
              Delta had ONE holiday where they cancelled more than 200 flights -and still managed to accommodate the vast majority of passengers within hours of the time of their original flight because they 1. cxld the flights the day before and 2. had seats available because they were seat blocking. Only on the last event at Easter did they temporarily suspend seat blocking because they couldn’t accommodate everyone without severe inconvenience.

              American has cancelled just 67 flights for tomorrow. let’s see how many they have not just at the beginning of the day and then again at the end of the day. AA passengers are writing all over social media of the operational disaster that is AA because AA refuses to admit they cannot run the operation they are scheduling and then are forced to cancel. The same thing has happened over and over and over again and it is far different than what happened at DL or what has happened even at UA this summer which has faced alot more weather issues than DL.
              WN failed spectacularly but they have not repeated their operational failures as AA is doing just about every month.
              And NK isn’t quite on a monthly basis but they are not to be counted on.
              B6 consistently runs the worst on-time performance in the industry; the best and closest alliance doesn’t matter if passengers won’t book because of known and persistent operational problems.

              You may think that you “win” by trying to find my hypocrisies but American’s passengers and more importantly its future revenue only cares about their inability to operate a reliable schedule – which you still refuse to acknowledge as you try to note that your goal wasn’t to discuss American at all – but me.

              Others recognize that AA’s DOT stats will suffer greatly. Business travelers will be armed with DOT data by AA’s competitors – along with status matches. If you or any of AA’s management thinks that it is acceptable in the eyes of the public to run so much worse of an operation than AA’s competitors, you will be in for a rude surprise.

            7. No, Tim, we’re all the losers here. Your posts are about 20% good information, 40% Delta/LUV fanboyism, and 40% irrelevant facts, out-of-context-facts, and obfuscation. It is absolutely clear that there are elements of this business that you understand much better than the majority of folks on this board (and certainly better than me). If you would focus on the 20% of your writing that is good information, we’d all be better off because we’d learn more about this industry from you. Instead, I (and I assume the vast majority of folks on this board) skim over or skip entirely your posts because it just isn’t worth the time to read six paragraphs to figure out which three sentences are useful. I’m not retired, I only have so many hours in my day, and the cost-benefit analysis of reading Tim Dunn posts just doesn’t pencil out for me. Hopefully one day you’ll change your ways so we can learn more about this fascinating business from you.

            8. Jerry,
              I appreciate you acknowledging that I do know more about parts of the airline industry than many others. I also am glad you identify what you don’t like about what I write.
              I should note that I have been watching the airline industry since my teens (which was more than a few decades ago), including collecting annual reports to stockholders and other business-related aspects of the industry besides the usual timetables and other stuff.
              Delta and Southwest get my support because they run some of the best businesses in the industry; if you or others read what other industry analysts say, they generally see that as well – although they might rank a few other airlines such as Alaska up there as well.
              Specific to the discussion about irregular operations, besides DOT data which consistently ranks Delta fairly high, they also have move multiple other awards. Whatever bias you think I have can’t be all mine unless you think I can sway all of those surveys, polls and awards.
              And Southwest has an incredibly loyal customer base. They run a far worse operation than Delta (and other airlines) and end up with far fewer complaints. They also have hypocritically argued for more access to the big NE airports but then keep Dallas Love Field locked up for their own use (although the clock is ticking for most of the restrictions re: N. Texas airport access to fall, save additional gates at Love Field).
              Is there a certain injustice that Delta and Southwest get by with stuff that other airlines get crucified for? Maybe. Or maybe those two have built up enough good will that long call hold times don’t get people worked up as much as the service problems at other airlines.
              Delta and Southwest also have very strong strategic orientations, have adapted well to changes in the industry, and are also highly competitive. They can translate their strong business planning into increased profits.

              I have enjoyed the chat w/ you and am glad you have gained something. CF has done a good job of reworking the way comments work here so discussions are more productive. I will carefully consider your comments.

        2. Completely agree with you here. Despite its repeated holiday breakdowns (of which I was critical), Delta (and United) are running, by far, the best operations right now. And it’s really not even close. Delta and United are head and shoulders above the others in both cancellations and delays. It will be VERY interesting to see the June and July DOT results in terms of on-time performance, cancellations, baggage handling and customer complaints. I would not be surprised to see Delta at the top of ALL of those metrics.

          1. I agree with you….It is pretty obvious for anyone that wants to see that American and JetBlue and Spirit have repeatedly during the covid era been pushing their operations well beyond their ability to deliver. But they also did this before covid as well.

            It is not even 6 pm Central Time and AA just blew through 500 cancellations for the day – 13% of their operation – while Spirit is above 280 and 37%. AA’s system cancellations exceed the cancellations for all airlines at DFW so this isn’t just about DFW. As hard as it is for some to admit, there are serious operational problems going on in some parts of the US airline industry. Given that AA desperately needs to get business travelers back, the fact that Delta and United are running much better operations is highly problematic for AA’s future revenues.

            As for your comment about mergers, it is hard to believe that Alaska or Southwest – the most likely merger partners for JetBlue – will decide it is now worth significantly complicating their operations in order to gain more access to NYC. It is also doubtful that there will be near as many mergers just because the business models – including financial metrics – are so different between airlines in the industry now.

            Also, please note that Delta will be practically at parity with JetBlue in Boston in terms of number of flights. B6 is clearly willing to sacrifice its position in Boston in order to go after opportunities in NYC. Doing so might make sense but it might be impossible to regain an advantage in the future.

            Finally, Delta flight 201 is enroute from Johannesburg to Atlanta on the first A350 flight on that route and the return of the longest route that has operated from JNB. Maybe it will leak out how many people and how much cargo is on the plane but it will be worth watching that flight over the next few months to see if the A350 really can do what alot of people said it could not.

            1. Regardless of the equipment (B-777 or A-350), I wish Delta was still serving Capetown. Even if it’s just for ego and prestige.

  4. I think there is a difference between what most of the airlines are dealing with vs what NK and other ULCCs may be dealing with. Most of the non-ULCCs are experiencing problems restoring their pre-COVID level of block hours, but will eventually settle in on schedules they can actually operate.

    It would seem to me that NK and F9 are possibly targeting growth levels that would be hard to achieve with the labor shortage issues that we are seeing. So, I’d think this could be just the beginning of operational problems we will see.

    1. Beyond tight pitch etc, one of the biggest reasons that I personally am very hesitant to book ULCCs like Allegiant/Spirit/Frontier (even if doing so would save me $20 or $50 after all the add-on fees) is the historical track record of ULCCs during IRROPS, which is “mixed” at best. I’m not saying that an airline needs to fly every route multiple times a day, but if you are flying on a nonstop from a city that a ULCC only touches 2x or 3x weekly and your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, you better hope that the airport newstand has plenty of Snickers, because you’re probably going to be there for a while, perhaps days (look at what happened with people getting stranded in Mexico not too long ago), and you may lose much of your vacation.

      In contrast, getting RJs from small cities to legacy airline hubs may not be the biggest priority when IRROPS occur, but if you’re flying a route that is scheduled daily or several times daily you may have a few more options (or less of a wait, or get lucky and nab open seats on the next scheduled flight) if your original flight is delayed or cancelled.

      I’d be curious to know how “tight” (in terms of capacity, i.e., spare pilots/FAs/planes) some of the ULCCs run their schedules compared to the legacies.

  5. The double standards in many of the comments are palpable. It seems to me that virtually every airline is struggling to deal with the ever-changing landscape and figure out what its new normal will be -f if there ever will be such a thing. Of course, we armchair CEOs know more about running airlines than the people who actually run them. We have all the internal data they do and never make mistakes. The obvious reality is that no human endeavor is perfect. I’m guessing that a lot of very dedicated people are working very hard to rectify the issues their companies face. I, for one, want to thank them, not vilify them.

    With that thanks in mind, I post the following:

    “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

    Theodore Roosevelt
    Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

    1. I absolutely love that speech as well, Desert Ghost. Last week, you made a reference to Bill Franke, Indigo Partners, and Doug Parker being hand-picked to run HP. I’d like you to elaborate, please, on what you envision of Mr. Parker and Indigo Partners and their affiliated carriers’ relationships today and what you see among them in the future. Certainly, there is a reason that the ONLY major airline CEO in office on 09/11 who remains today is Mr. Parker. I eagerly await your analysis on this very intriguing industry possibly.

      1. Thanks for the kind words. Anything I write about future collaboration between Indigo and American will only be a guess.

        Bill Franke was the CEO of America West during most of its bankruptcy. He came in at the behest of then Arizona governor Fife Symington, who was afraid America West’s creditors would force the airline to be liquidated and the state would lose thousands of jobs. Franke had a history of being able to restructure bankrupt companies, one of which was Arizona-based Circle K Corporation. America West’s survival was largely due to his efforts to gain support in the Phoenix business community and raise financing from Mesa and Continental Airlines, although Ed Beauvais and Mike Conway might debate that. Doug Parker was hired by Franke in 1995 as senior vice president and CFO. According to Ted and Dan Reed’s book on the American/US Airways merger, Parker was selected as the airline’s tentative CEO in training in 1998, although he had to prove himself. By the way, Franke also brought in Robert Isom, Derek Kerr, and Scott Kirby.

        My main point was about business relationships. As much as airline fans argue about liveries, fares, on-time performance, in-seat TVs, etc., business is largely about people. The stories I’ve read indicate that American’s investment is in JetSmart, not Indigo. But that doesn’t preclude future investments in the parent company given the long-time relationship between Franke and Parker. When I saw the story, my initial reaction was: “What took so long?” I keep repeating that airlines primarily provide transportation, not entertainment, food, or beds. But they’re also in the people business.

        It looks like Indigo has plans to grow JetSmart significantly in South America. Wizz Air has a significant and growing presence in Europe, and Frontier is rapidly growing in the U.S. Most airline growth worldwide is in the low-cost sector, not among the legacies. That’s because they’re generally more profitable on a percentage basis, in spite of those who argue that more amenities drive more profit. The ULCCs in this country also have a smaller presence in New York than the legacies, yet they’re generally more profitable, but I digress.

        I have no clue if there will be cooperation with Wizz or Frontier, but given the history between Franke and Parker, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some.

        1. Thank you for that background, Desert Ghost. Given the long-term relationship between Franke and Parker, would you go so far as to say Indigo would be interested in a controlling interest in AA should it enter Chapter 11? Despite its costs and debt levels, Parker has for years operated AA more as an LCC than a full-service airline. With Franke pulling the strings behind the bankruptcy curtain, do you foresee AA emerging from a (potential) Chapter 11 reorganization as the largest ULCC in the world, code-sharing with the other Indigo-controlled carriers around the globe? Thanks in advance for your well-reasoned yet highly speculative reply.

          1. “Parker has for years operated AA more as an LCC than a full-service airline. ”

            How on earth can anyone say this with a straight face?

            AA has:

            The only first class product internationally
            Flagship First lounges
            Both things that Delta doesn’t have.

            More first class legroom than Delta.
            The first carrier to announce and fully install Premium economy internationally.
            High Speed wifi actually installed across their fleet.
            Free entertainment with your device.
            Free snacks and drinks across all cabins.

            In what possible way can anyone make the argument AA is run as an LCC? IFE? That’s hardly an LCC or non-LCC argument. Hardly any full service carrier in Europe has that on their short-haul fleets and even UA is years away from something like that.

            1. Yes, AA has retained the vestiges of a full-service airline, without question. But the airline no longer has the cachet of full service. It is “American Airlines” in name only now. Many of its most-loyal, highest yielding business travellers have vacated the property. The “original” AA employees I know repeatedly lament the demise of their culture. They describe the “new” American Airlines as having a “desert culture,”. a barren landscape with little life.

              Personally, I like AA. I’m always amazed that the airline Petri dish that contains the bacteria of Allegheny, Piedmont, Empire, PSA, Reno, Air Cal, TWA, Cactus and AA can even survive, given the parochialism it inevitably faces. Still, it soldiers on, too big to fail, too indebted to survive.

              One can only wonder how Mr. Crandall feels, watching his beloved New York business market laid out on JetBlue’s sacrificial altar. Such a shame what has happened to this once dominant, once feared airline. But yes, you’re correct: they do have IFE.

            2. “ Many of its most-loyal, highest yielding business travellers have vacated the property. ”

              And you know this how?

              “No longer has the the cachet of full service”?
              What does that even mean? Lol. They have all the amenities, more than delta in some cases as mentioned above, but they don’t have the cachet?
              Just leave the overly general “aa is run like an LCC” comment in the garbage where it belonged. It isn’t true. It wasn’t true.

              And there’s truly no backup to such a silly statement as it pertains to any true hard product advantages/differentiation between AA, DL, and UA.

          2. @SawTheMasters,

            I don’t think American needs to file for Chapter 11. As long as there’s cash flow to make its payments, American will be able to pay down its debt. It’s really no different from our personal finances. As long as there’s enough income to make our payments things will be fine.

            Nothing personal, but I really don’t understand the apparent desire some people have to see American file for Chapter 11 or be liquidated.

            As for running American as an LCC, that claim is exaggerated by some people who have a vision of an American Airlines that hasn’t existed for 30 + years. If I remember correctly, US Airways, the “LCC” everyone who hates Doug Parker loves to whine about, had lie-flat seats (Envoy Suites) before American.

            If one looks objectively, the LCC and ULCC airlines are generally more profitable on a percentage basis than the legacies. There are a number of structural reasons for this, most of which lie in the fact that LCCs have more seats on their aircraft. More seats = lower unit costs and more revenue-generating capability. Southwest has been the most consistently profitable airline in the U.S. for four decades. It has no in-seat entertainment, no power at every seat, etc. Its seats, at least to me, are about as comfortable as a park bench. Yet Southwest has only had one losing quarter in the last 35 years or so. Low fares are apparently what the vast majority of the traveling public wants. LCCs and ULCCs are gaining share worldwide, while the legacies are losing share.

            Which brings up the question: Why does every airline have to have precisely the same offering or business model? Can’t they be different? Alaska and Hawaiian seem to do quite well as hybrids. JetBlue also is a hybrid of sorts, since it doesn’t have first-class cabins. Alaska and Hawaiian have the same device holders American has. Alaska has been consistently among the more profitable U.S. airlines. As for in-seat TV, It might also be remembered that there were a lot of complaints on airline blogs about the space the systems took up under some of the seats. American began its standardization program a number of years ago. It made its decisions based on what was available at the time. No airline can wave a magic wand and refit 1000 aircraft overnight.

            The bottom line is simple: Airlines have to base their decisions on how people actually spend their money, not by reading the comments of a few disgruntled people on airline blogs. No airline is perfect, not even Delta or Southwest. Every airline is different. When did that become a crime?

            1. Like you, I wish no ill-will on any carrier, AA included. What I was really hoping is that you would elaborate on the potential of a Franke-orchestrated, Parker-led rebirth of AA as an ULCC, as part of the Indigo worldwide cartel. Now THAT would make for good analysis.

            2. Ghost,
              Can you let us know who and when people wished that AA would file for bankruptcy?
              There are people – including me – that have accurately noted AA’s financial situation including the fact that it had negative stock holder equity and the industry’s highest debt levels by a fairly wide margin before covid.
              Of course, government aid provided a massive reset of industry financials and it will take time to see how it all shakes out at specific airlines. United’s massive refleeting also will significantly change where American stands with respect to industry debt and financial obligations; long-term leases are required to be on the balance sheet just like debt.
              Characterizations of AA as an ULCC are clearly hyperbole regarding all aspects of AA’s hard product – but airline service is not just about hard product and never has been. Southwest has an egalitarian, stripped down product but they also have unbelievable loyalty among their customer base. Despite their own operational disasters – which happen far more than a lot of people believe – they do a very good job of making it up to their customers so their customers don’t complain near as much as other airlines’ customers do.
              The simple reason that American needs to have the highest revenue product – which is not a hybrid of anything but a full out legacy carrier model – is because the legacy carrier model generates the highest fare levels and that has been proven over 40 years of deregulation. American’s position of having the highest unit costs requires them to pursue the model that generates the highest revenue. American also has said that large portions of its pre-covid longhaul international network didn’t make money on an ongoing basis and that is the biggest distinction between the big 3 and the rest of the industry.
              Given that American is outsourcing portions of its network in both NYC and the west coast to low cost carriers, something no other legacy carrier is doing or has sustained when it has been done, it is very much a guess how AA will fare by shrinking its own footprint in some of the world’s largest markets while contracting out more flying to low cost competitors which do not have the same full service, global business model.
              And, finally, generalizations are great but American competes in the United States domestic market and US international markets. Delta and Southwest were generating nearly identical profit margins pre-covid at the top of the industry. American was at the bottom of the industry, low cost carriers included. United’s margins were on par with some low cost carriers including JetBlue. Business and life doesn’t fit well in nice boxes.

            3. @Tim Dunn,

              I see people who apparently hope American files for bankruptcy all the time, on many blogs.

            4. @Tim,
              I’m not going to copy and paste every blog comment I’ve read where the writer implies a desire to see American file for Chapter 11 or be liquidated. I have better things to do with my time. There are close to a hundred I’ve seen on Airliners.net alone over the last few years. But I must ask why you are the only person who consistently reacts to my observation in such a defensive way?

              I’ve never suggested that American reinvent itself as a ULCC. There’s no reason to. You correctly observed above (or below depending on where this post gets placed) that American isn’t a ULCC, and any comment that makes that comparison is hyperbole. I merely asked why every legacy airline has to offer precisely the same products and services. No one has answered that question. Is there something wrong with a marketplace that offers choice? Does anyone really want to see “AmAir?”

              So American has higher labor costs than Delta or United at the present time. When did that become a crime?

            5. Ghost,
              these replies are getting messy.
              There is no crime for having a different business model and nobody said any differently. There is a pretty proven model for legacy carriers to maximize revenue and it is by providing high quality service in order to gain the top revenue – and to distinguish a legacy carrier from low cost carriers.
              OF course American can be something other than a full service global carrier but they have to demonstrate that they can get superior revenues per unit of production (RASM) to what DAL and UAL are trying to do and also at a lower cost of production (CASM) than what AA has now and what DAL and UAL are doing).
              If AA can figure out how to change the model and beat its peers, then they absolutely should. United has watched Delta at the top of the industry in terms of margin performance and decided that since they can’t beat them, they will copy Delta’s model as best as they can. If American can best Delta and United, please let Dougie know how.

              I know full well what other people say elsewhere – but don’t you think that CF should stay as a place where we discuss what is on this site and not a dozen other sites?

              Bee,
              Bankruptcy means you don’t have the cash to meet your obligations. Southwest most certainly gained a cost advantage relative to the big 3 when WN was able to retain hedging but that became a cost issue for the big 3, not an issue of enough cash. WN still hedges and still regularly loses money doing so while the big 3 do not. WN accepts a small amount of hedge losses as the price to pay for stability of fuel costs.

              WN did grow aggressively as a result of its lower costs and, ironically, is now in Spirit’s sights with many of the routes they are adding…. if they can ever run an operation reliable enough to get people where they have bought tickets.

          3. @SawTheMasters,

            I can’t analyze something I don’t know. I can only speculate. I have no clue about what a joint Franke/Parker business arrangement could look like. All I think I know is that it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Indigo has a controlling interest in both JetSmart and Frontier. It has a stake in Wizz and Volaris, and is partnering with Enerjet to launch a new Canadian ULCC. Volaris is probably out of the picture, as it has an ongoing arrangement with Southwest. But the others could be in play. I don’t know how deep Indigo’s pockets are, but who’s to say that Frontier couldn’t be used as a vehicle to buy out American, JetBlue, and Alaska in the U.S., use Enerjet as a vehicle to buy Porter, and AirTransat in Canada, and add Wizz to oneworld. Again, this is pure speculation. For someone who had no interest in airlines, Franke has apparently come a long way. He seems to have figured out a way to avoid turning a billion dollars into millions.

            1. I’m uncertain what relationship Volaris has with Southwest. Aside from that, I honestly believe the path you describe above (or something similar to it) might be the very best way for AA to ensure its future viability. This would require a Chapter 11 filing, and new financial covenants giving Indigo a controlling interest in the “new, new” American Airlines. It would offer AA worldwide ULCC code-sharing at the least and a worldwide ULCC carrier at the most in the event of full Open Skies. It would cause the U.S. airline industry to reach a tipping point, at which the ULCC model would become dominant. And it would return American Airlines to a financial position of self-control, with a future much brighter than today. Again, I’m not “rooting” for AA to go bankrupt. I am hoping for a brighter future for them, in whatever capacity it can thrive in the marketplace. Thank you for engaging and sharing your insights.

          4. @Tim Dunn,

            Based on every measure I’ve seen, ULCCs and LCCs consistently outperform the legacies on a percentage basis. There may be an outlying quarter here or there, but the overall pattern is pretty clear. Southwest’s history of consistent profitability is ample evidence of that fact. How many times has it been in Chapter 11 over the last 40 years? Interestingly, the most profitable airlines also seem to be the ones that have a very limited presence in New York. Go figure! LOL

            1. As to your comment above, I still struggle with the notion that the internet is one big discussion forum. I am looking for specific examples on this distinct site of where people said what you think they have.

              And calculating margin is not difficult for those that have a basic understanding of business finance. It is not a slight on those that do not have that knowledge but those that do not know how to read financial statements for themselves can’t exactly argue against the findings that others provide. Every major US airline is publicly traded which means their financial statements can be viewed by the public.

              Southwest and JetBlue haven’t filed for bankruptcy in large part because they don’t have and never have had defined benefit pension plans. It was after 9/11 and the stock market collapse that multiple companies in multiple industries faced bankruptcy because of their pension requirements. Because of union representation, airlines were some of the last large private companies that retained pension plans and it was by Congressional Act that nearly all of those pension plans are now frozen – if they weren’t terminated earlier – and legacy airlines do not now have the huge cash funding requirements that low cost carriers never had. You cannot consider business models without considering pensions and the role they have had on US airline finances.

              Southwest is very small in NYC but Delta and United are very large. Delta and Southwest had nearly identical margins pre-covid while United was nearly identical to JetBlue. It is more significant that Delta’s CASM during the pandemic was lower relative to B6 and WN than it has ever been. If DL retains even part of that, they have an enormous financial advantage.

              American has been the least profitable US airline on a margin basis because they have high labor costs which are directly attributable to Parker’s need to gain labor’s support in order to get the merger through and that has persisted. There are multiple metrics that show that AA is the least productive in terms of revenue and ASMs per employee and the amount of work AA doesn’t do in-house does not excuse them. The revenue should then be higher and the airline should be more productive than Delta and United – which operate similar types of networks – but that isn’t the case.

              The reason why AA can never convert to an ULCC is because they would have to lay off such a high percentage of employees and rework labor contracts so aggressively that the airline would not survive. AA’s industry high labor costs are why if they manage to merge with anyone else, whatever they acquire will no longer become economically viable. For example, most of B6′ network won’t work at AA’s costs.

              It will be fascinating to watch airline strategies post covid and this weekly schedule update gives us some insight but airlines can’t and won’t do what is economically impossible.

            2. @DesertGhost The southwest track record is even better than that. 50 years of operation as of June and 2 years they did not have a profit, the first year and 2020 due to covid. Also, the Volaris agreement (not sure it even was a codeshare but similar) went away when the AirTran purchase was finalized so that doesn’t exist anymore.

              I can’t believe the only reason airlines went thru bankruptcy (and some multiple times) was due to pensions @Tim Dunn. One of the reasons southwest survived post 9-11 was due to their fuel hedging program put together by Gary Kelly when he was CFO in the late 90s on top of many other business decisions they have made related to costs and balance sheet management.

  6. Can one have a truly Honduran travel experience if one doesn’t experience the white-knuckle approach into TGU?

    1. That’s like asking if one can truly have a Bolivian travel experience without seeing one’s plane struggle to gain height above the ground (only for the ground to fall away dramatically, revealing the city below, as the plane passes over the plateau) when departing from LPB, located at over 4,000 meters (> 13k feet) above sea level… And then (upon arrival) get suspicious looks from Customs and the drug-sniffing dogs at the destination, simply because one flew out of Bolivia… So, no, not a truly local travel experience without that. :-)

      Kai Tak closed before my time, and I’m more than a little disappointed that I never got to do the infamous Heart Attack approach… Would have loved to have been a pax in a window seat on that one.

  7. Just like southwest is a fascinating case study done in numerous college business programs for its success and profitability, this spring and summer will be as well. Will the likes of American and Southwest and Spirit trying to put every available asset to use as much as possible to try new routes but not have any wiggle room to work thru any issues that arise (be it weather delays, technology, runways down for maintenance causing delays/cancellations, fuel supply issues, etc), all which tax your workforce and end up causing crew issues from both FAA timeouts/rest time to illness and fatigue related sick days, or the likes of Delta and United flying a smaller schedule compared to 2019 to ensure you have those proper backup plans and lower load factors enabling the ability to be able to recover from trouble. After all United has 40% less revenue seat miles in their 2Q2021 financial report vs 2019 and Delta has 47% less? In the end, which strategy will work, give it a go to try and capture that summer demand not knowing what the fall business travel will be like… or be slower, more measured, try to keep that fare premium up, and hope it helps.

    I’ve even seen talk that the changes this summer in the average passenger weight amount that the FAA has increased has hurt as well as it can potentially reduce those extra pax you might be able to reaccommidate on other flight impacting recoveries when these airlines are running 90% load factors already.

    It is interesting @Tim Dunn you bring up Delta’s costs. Yes, the 13.00 CASM in 2Q2021 is lower than the 14.51 from 2Q2019 but it is nowhere near the $10.22 southwest has.

    Make fun all you want of ‘weather delays happen’, Sunday was a complete mess in Dallas. A big cluster just blew up right over DFW with a severe thunderstorm warning and really put a dent into their operation. With the banks of flights they run through there along with most airlines not having lots of reserves this summer, you can see how it cascades. It happened to southwest during their tech outages, rolling over for a few days where crews have to get required rest, then fatigue, then airport workers working extra and top it off with so many crazy passengers these days.

    But those delays cause crews to get out of place, no flights to put them on to reposition them because they were already full and now 100% with rebooked pax, and it doesn’t take a genius to see how it takes a few days to recover. Oh yea, why did it not impact southwest as much? Sure, they had a bunch of delays at Love Field having only 1 usable runway this summer, but that 15-20 mile separation was enough to stay out of that warning window and they could continue on. Days in the past it has been flipped…

    But if you are darling Delta running that 69% load factor for 2Q2021 vs 77% for AA or 82.9% for WN during the same quarter, then you are the only airline winning, right?

    1. Glad you are reading financial statements, Bee.
      Delta’s costs went up in the 2nd quarter like many airlines as they prepared to expand their operation after almost a year of very slim operations.
      The RELATIVE cost difference between Delta and Southwest as well as JetBlue throughout the pandemic has significantly narrowed. I am not saying that will remain so but IF Delta narrows its costs relative to low cost competitors – which they said they would do coming out of the pandemic – they will have gained a significant strategic advantage. But that is not just a Delta narrative but true for any company. Airlines are most efficient running full and that is why some airlines are trying so hard to schedule so much capacity. Airlines like Delta and United have adopted a smaller approach but have gotten costs out far better. However, American’s capacity for August is down about 14% compared to 24-25% for Delta and United but American is tripping all over their operation while still being smaller.

      The major weather event in Dallas was Sunday. AA has cxld 10% of its flights today after a double digit percentage yesterday- and that includes flights that do not touch DFW because AA, like most airlines, rotates aircraft and crews throughout their system.

      Spirit has cancelled more than half of its flights today and yet has only cancelled a couple percent for tomorrow. There is no way they will operate anywhere close to a normal schedule for days. No rational person would choose Spirit over a basic economy fare on another airline.

      Several airlines are pushing their systems to the limits, have no margin for any errors, and minimal ability to recover when IROPS happen. Given that the airlines were publicly handed tens of billions of dollars in aid, the public has a right to be upset and there is a very good chance that the industry will pay for what is happening operationally this summer. Even if the government is slow to act, the market will respond as people shift to more reliable airlines.

      Load factor is not and never has been the goal of airlines. Even in the regulated era, the airline industry was for-profit. Massive disruptions are extraordinarily costly in terms of resetting the operation and paying employee overtime but even more so in eliminating the ability to sell higher priced last minute tickets as well as result in passengers going to other airlines.

      We may see much thinner schedules esp. going into the winter. The world has been messed up for over a year and people are desperate to find normality. Airlines are certainly not delivering it. There is a reason why airlines consistently rank as one of the least-liked U.S. industries.

      I very much hope the airline industry and those airlines that are having enormous problems can get it together and figure out the need to schedule within the limits of their resources.

      1. From all the different reports, Spirit seems to be a completely different beast these last few days @Tim Dunn. Yes, they have some weather / staffing issues but it really sounds much more deeper than that. Probably some internal technical issues that are not being shared but reports of their contractors just walking out in San Juan, etc, really sounds like an operational mess.

        It was just last month that drove Southwest to lots of lingering cancellations due to a couple of tech issues. Then the word on too much sick time being used by exhausted staff dealing with the backup of delays. What was a Tues/Wed tech issue lingered into a solid week before they were back to ‘summer normal’.

        I know AA has its debt problems, Southwest has its operational issues / delays, Delta is running a smaller but better operation, but in all of this I do wonder about United. The couple of times I’ve been in / thru Denver it has been a ghost town over in Terminal B. And I don’t see much related to delays for United in Denver when all the storms keep spinning up and hurting Southwest on-time flights there. Granted, Southwest has stated they are trying to protect some of their operation by more proactively cancelling flights, but there was a time I thought that United wasn’t giving flight aware any data for them to know what was delayed or cancelled. All the FAA/ATC metering programs they put in place around these weather issues should impact airlines equally and all.

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