Capacity Cuts Overshadow Growth

Schedule Changes

The residents of Airlineville are feeling a lot like the residents of Long Island this week. Storm clouds continue to gather. Will it be a direct hit or will it skirt the town? Either way, there will be an impact.

As Cirium data shows, Pualani and the Animal are boarding up windows for the near term, even as the latter makes more bold long term plans. Meanwhile, the Widget, the Globe, and even the Queen have taken some precautions for a longer and colder winter than they had hoped to see.

It was quiet for most of the residents this week as they take a wait and see approach, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty to talk about.

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

Allegiant Extends and Adds

Allegiant had a very busy week. It extended its schedule from February 15 to May 17, so spring break is now available. It also finally got around to filing its schedule in 22 new markets. Those are listed in this press release.

British Airways Pulls Back This Winter

British Airways will cut frequencies this winter in Baltimore, Houston, Nashville, New Orleans, and Seattle. It will also reduce aircraft size on many other routes. Notably, the A350-1000 is out for the winter in the US while the 787 will gain more flying. And the A380 is still scheduled 1x daily to LA and San Francisco, though the Miami and Washington/Dulles flights aren’t on that aircraft any longer.

Delta Takes On the Holidays, Trims Europe

Last week, Delta did a bunch of cutting into next year, but it left out the holidays. This week, it filed its holiday cuts from December 18 – January 4. The holiday schedules are below the pre- and post-holiday schedule levels, so something is going to change.

On long-haul, Delta make a whole bunch of cuts. Detroit – Frankfurt is not flying into December. Atlanta – Madrid, Minneapolis/St Paul – London/Heathrow, New York/JFK – Athens + Brussels, and Portland (OR) – Amsterdam won’t operate through the winter. New York/JFK – Lisbon, Tel Aviv, and Zurich are all seeing reduced frequencies this winter as well. Meanwhile, heading south, Atlanta – Rio and New York/JFK – Sao Paulo are gone into February while Boston – Providenciales is gone for the winter.

Frontier Cuts in Short Term, Then Shifts Denver for Orlando

Frontier is bringing down capacity again in the near term with 5 percent of seats being cut between August 26 and then end of October.

In the longer run, Frontier has poured a bunch of capacity into Orlando this winter, at the expense of Denver. Orlando will get increased frequency to Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Islip, Las Vegas, Philly, and Trenton. Some of this flying will be funded by winter suspensions of Denver – Billings, Bismarck, Boise, Bozeman, Branson, Jackson Hole, Missoula, and Palm Springs along with Orlando – Jackson (MS) and Philly – Charleston.

United Broadly Cuts Latin/Caribbean, Changes JFK

United took some scissors to its Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America schedule this week. All markets saw cuts except for Denver which grew. Newark and Washington/Dulles mostly lost in the Caribbean (though it gains San Jose, CR service). Houston and San Francisco mostly lose in Mexico while Los Angeles loses in Mexico and Central America. Big destinations that lose capacity are San Juan, Grand Cayman, Monterrey, and Belize.

The airline’s fledgling JFK service is seeing changes. Starting October 5, the aircraft will switch from a 767-300 to a 757-200. Is this an upgauge or a downgauge? Well, it’s a little of both. Remarkably, this increases capacity. The 767 has 167 seats (46 business, 22 premium economy, 43 Economy Plus, and 56 in coach). The 757 has 169 seats (16 business, 45 Economy Plus, and 108 in coach). It’s just a big drop in premium capacity.

In other news, San Francisco – Bangalore has been delayed until December. And some secondary Canada markets will be canceled into February or March.

Other Randomness

  • Air Canada won’t fly to Baltimore from Montreal or Toronto or to Raleigh/Durham from Montreal through year-end. It also won’t fly Pittsburgh to Montreal through November. Panama City – Toronto won’t operate this winter, and next summer, Air Canada is looking to fly to Milan from Montreal instead of Toronto.
  • Alaska suspended Portland (OR) to Newark, New York/JFK, Puerto Vallarta, and Washington/National for most of the month of October.
  • American did nothing this week except for updating seating capacity on some A321 flights through November. As the airline continues to retrofit its fleet, it keeps adding capacity to A321s in the schedule.
  • Azul will not fly from Campinas to Orlando until the holidays.
  • Cape Air will fly from Hyannis to Martha’s Vineyard through the winter.
  • China Airlines has extended its pandemic schedule through the end of the year while China Southern has taken it down all the way through March.
  • Contour will fly Nashville to Greenville/Spartanburg from November.
  • Hawaiian took out another 3 percent of interisland seats for the last nine days of August.
  • SATA will fly from JFK to Madeira 1x weekly starting in November.
  • Southern Air Express is ending Destin – Tampa early, pulling all remaining flights for September through November. It also won’t fly to Tampa from West Palm Beach through the winter.
  • WestJet will operate Calgary – San Francisco through the winter. It will also move 3 of its 6 weekly Vancouver – Orange County flights over to Calgary instead.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode of Skes of air Lines. If you need more network action, you can always subscribe to Cranky Network Weekly where this week we look at:

  • Delta’s Holiday Schedule Takes a Dip
  • Frontier Makes Orlando Number One
  • British Airways Adjusts Winter Capacity Down
  • United’s Latin/Caribbean Downshift
  • Avelo Tackles Big Markets From New Haven

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13 comments on “Capacity Cuts Overshadow Growth

  1. Stay tuned later today for “why Delta’s massive international cuts are really a good thing and totally different from American’s”

      1. My guess is it won’t be our host LOL, but someone who wrights extremely long diatribes on this subject.

  2. I’m surprised nobody is mentioning this, but UA downgrading aircraft from high J 767 to 16J 757 is a pretty big deal. That was their biggest differentiator in a new market. Clearly, not enough business demand to support it. That should be worrying sign for UA’s long term presence at JFK. I’m still not sure they will have permanent slots to be able to operate out of JFK after October.

    1. I was very surprised by this too, although I look at these flights frequently and they have always seemed sort of empty and I never ended up taking one lol.

      It is disappointing longer term though, as there was always availability for 50K miles in J.

  3. The big stories of the past weekend have been the activation of CRAF to get Americans and Afghanis out of the Middle East and Europe to the United States. The US military has stepped up evacuations and appears to be increasing the effectiveness of its airlifts out of Afghanistan while civilian carriers are taking passengers onward after US government processing.
    Delta and other carriers already were operating charters for the government and all of the 4 US scheduled passenger carriers with widebodies are likely happy to find some use for their international fleet which will not see as much scheduled flights they would like.

    As for international capacity, in the near term, Delta and United have very similarly sized transatlantic (Europe and Africa) and transpacific (Australasia) networks with American considerably smaller to Asia. Australia’s passenger capacity limits are so low that scheduled capacity doesn’t matter. United’s system advantage is India which begs the question if Delta will use some of its incoming A350s to restart India service.

    The good news is that covid case and death rates in S. America are stabilizing as vaccinations increase which means that there might be a decent Latin America northern hemisphere winter travel season.

    The other weekend story was the impact of Tropical Storm Henri on operations in the NE. JetBlue pre-cancelled about 25% of its operations on Sunday and yet there were very few ATC delays despite heavy rain. Other airlines cancelled low percentages of flights.

    Pulling down domestic capacity – as Southwest and others are doing – should stabilize operations going into the fall which will help restore customer service which has been horrific at most airlines this summer.

    1. Tim:

      Your mentioning of using the CRAF fleet to evacuate the Afghanis made me wonder how they decided who would get upgraded to Polaris on the United Aircraft ? :-)

      It would be interesting to see a picture of that. LOL

      I am NOT trying to belittle the enormity of this crisis, but just wondering.

      1. I have been wondering as well.
        One consideration is that the most premium seats on US airlines – Delta One, Polaris etc – do not accommodate infants in arms and many have shoulder straps with airbags in them.

        on another note, Delta added 30 more A321NEOs to its order book – conversions of options – so they see either much more demand longer term or are comfortable taking on debt to accelerate replacement of older aircraft.

  4. Cranky – the HAL changes are due to selective up-gauging of some 717 flights to 321neo because of short staffing.

    1. akke29 – Interesting, thanks for sharing that. I do see it, looks like 32 flights on the A321 from today through month end, and it’s on all routes, even thin ones like Kona – Lihu’e. I guess this helps to replace some of the lost capacity.

  5. PDX-AMS cut is tough one.

    Parents won’t bother going to Europe this fall.
    Have staffed booked on it in November for Amsterdam trade show, now routed through SEA (woof)
    Two other staff routing PDX-JFK-ATH for holidays

    I have trips I will need to go from Europe to PDX for 2-3 days and head back…. now more painful.

    At least they cut it for a while, instead of the rolling changes. Hope it comes back in Spring 2022, that’s a pretty important route for our industry.

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