Airlines Dare To Make Summer Plans, Try to Get Back Toward Normal

Schedule Changes

The residents of Airlineville have been living day by day for the last couple of years, and they’re sick of it. So, they’re doing something crazy. They’re going to start making plans for next summer. How bold!

According to Cirium, the Eskimo, the Widget, and the Globe have all thrown caution to the wind. Of course, they know they can always change their minds later, but they’re feeling pretty good that next summer will, in fact, exist.

On the other hand, both the Eagle and the Maple Leaf seem focused on the cold winter before they have time to think about summer. It’s hard to blame them.

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

Alaska Makes Massive Changes for Summer

Alaska made a slew of changes for next summer this week. Overall, capacity is mostly flat, but it moved flights around a LOT. Many routes see increases — with Anchorage – Seattle and its 6 additional daily leading the way — while others see decreases, but there are some that stand out completely.

Take Los Angeles, for example. It appears that Boston and Chicago will now join JFK in the dustbin for good from LAX. Beyond that there are several routes around the system that are pulled at least for next summer.

  • Anchorage – Kahului, Kona
  • Boise – Palm Springs
  • Los Angeles – Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Paine Field, Tampa
  • Portland – Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Tampa, Tucson
  • San Diego – Cancun, Fort Lauderdale
  • San Francisco – Fort Lauderdale, Tampa
  • San Jose – Paine Field
  • Seattle – Belize

American Brings Down the Holidays

American has finalized its holiday schedules… finally. It was the last to do so, but now travelers can know that holiday schedules are largely set across the board. This was mostly a frequency cut and surprisingly American’s domestic schedule now sits lower than the other big airlines vs 2019/2020. Interestingly, LaGuardia won’t have service to Bermuda, Bangor, Charleston (SC), Orlando, Philly, and Portland (ME) through the holidays.

Delta Looks Long

Delta is making big changes as well, but those are mostly deep into the summer season. Some big changes in Europe and Asia are in store. These routes are either taking longer breaks or going away for good.

  • Atlanta – Stuttgart is gone for good
  • Los Angeles – Shanghai is gone for good
  • Paris/CDG – Cincinnati and Raleigh/Durham are out until August
  • Portland (OR) – Amsterdam and Incheon are out through April
  • Salt Lake City – London/Heathrow is gone for good

There is a whole lot more when it comes to frequency changes. What’s left in Beijing, assuming it can resume, will operate less than daily. Many other Asia routes will do the same along with some Europe routes too.

It’s not all bad news. Delta will fly from JFK to both Copenhagen and Prague next summer along with Detroit – Munich.

I also have to mention that additions of LA and Orlando to Panama City, Panama. Sound weird? Remember that last week, Copa added Atlanta flights from Panama City. Let the games begin.

Lufthansa Group Takes Down the Winter

Lufthansa and its other airlines have brought down capacity through March, largely mirroring the end of the 2021 schedule. Here’s what’s happening:

  • Frankfurt – Atlanta (1x daily -> 3/4x weekly), Austin (5x weekly -> 3x weekly), Dallas/Fort Worth (1x daily -> 5x weekly) Denver (1x daily -> 5x weekly), Detroit (1x daily -> 5x weekly), New York/JFK (2x daily -> 1x daily), Philadelphia (1x daily -> 3x weekly), Seattle (1x daily -> 5x weekly)
  • Geneva – New York/JFK (1x daily -> 3x weekly)
  • Munich – Boston (1x daily -> 5x weekly), Charlotte (1x daily -> 3x weekly), Denver (1x daily -> 3x weekly), New York/JFK (1x daily -> 3x weekly), San Francisco (1x daily -> 3x weekly), Washington/Dulles (will not operate)
  • Vienna – Newark (5x weekly -> 4x weekly), New York/JFK (4x weekly -> 3x weekly), Washington/Dulles (5x weekly -> 4x weekly)
  • Zurich – Boston (1x daily -> 5x weekly), Los Angeles (1x daily -> 5x weekly), Miami (2x daily -> 1x daily), Newark (1x daily -> 5x weekly), New York/JFK (2x daily -> 10x weekly), San Francisco (1x daily -> 5x weekly)

United Files Its New Long-Haul Flights

United has filed all the new flights that we discussed on the blog last week. There were a few additional tweaks. For example, Athens and Naples to Newark start back up in April instead of May now. And Newark – Kahului will fly through the summer while Dulles – Honolulu will go daily instead of 1x weekly.

Also, Jackson Hole gets a big boost with summer flights to Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco in addition to what was already filed.

Other Randomness

  • Air Canada will serve Buenos Aires as a tag off the Sao Paulo flight instead of off the Santiago flight beginning in December.
  • Air China won’t fly LA to Beijing through the winter, but it will fly to Shenzhen, just no more than 3 or 4 times a month.
  • Air India will drop Newark – Mumbai through the winter.
  • Avelo has officially pulled the plug on Burbank – Provo flights before they began. It has also now filed Fort Collins – Las Vegas as expected.
  • British Airways is cutting frequencies in Nov from London to Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Tampa.
  • Cathay Pacific won’t resume Boston or Chicago in November.
  • Cayman Airways is back in Denver and JFK starting in January. That joins Miami and Tampa which will see increases in frequency.
  • China Airlines will keep LAX at 1x daily and Ontario at 1x weekly through the winter.
  • Elite will fly 2x weekly from Newark to St Augustine in Florida through May.
  • Japan Airlines has extended its pandemic schedule through January in US beach markets.
  • LEVEL will fly JFK-Barcelona 4x weekly instead of 5x weekly next summer.
  • Philippine will move 2x weekly flights from LA to Cebu from Manila.
  • Singapore will not fly Singapore – Newark or Seattle through winter, but Seattle will be served via Vancouver.
  • Spirit pulled another 2 percent of capacity in December. The only routes to disappear are Fort Lauderdale – Hartford, Minneapolis/St Paul, and Pensacola. Meanwhile, Orlando – Ponce will join the network in February.
  • Sun Country is suspending all DFW service this winter which means no MSP or Cancun flights.
  • Swoop will start Winnipeg – Orlando/Sanford flights in December.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode of Skeds of air Lines.

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25 comments on “Airlines Dare To Make Summer Plans, Try to Get Back Toward Normal

  1. I think you should look again at the United IAD – HNL as well as JAC groups. I pulled the same report. While yes, indeed, before this weekend’s change United had minimal schedules filed for summer 2022, when you look at year over year, there really is no change. IAD-HNL has flown daily in the summer for many years, while United has always had a robust schedule to JAC from most of its hubs during the summer months, and what was filed this weekend just aligns the schedule with what they traditionally have offered. Not sure if you meant it, but the way you wrote your commentary made it seem like you were marveling over brand new/ expanded service, while what really is happening is simply United filing and putting out for sale the service they always have.

  2. While PHX has been a strong performer during the last year, I’m shocked by AA’s huge Dec cutbacks. The frequency cuts bring PHX down to the lowest mainline level in memory.

    I’m hoping this drastic reduction is a temporary measure to prevent another holiday meltdown or post vaccine mandate employee shortage and not permanent.

  3. What AS did here is what it was planning to do in summer of 2020. Adding a lot of seat share into SEA to try to grab as many gates as possible. The eye popping ones are going 2x on CVG/CMH-SEA and 20x on SEA-ANC. The difference vs 2020 is the abundance of MAX9, which will give them even more seats per fight and lower CASM. Keep in mind that port of Seattle allocates gates based on number of seats offered. It’s quite interesting that SEA will see more flights/capacity to places like CMH/CVG than LAX. From AS point of view, once they grab all the gates that become available at SEA, they can go back to growing at LAX.

    I’m sure DL will try to retaliate against this + AS flights on MSP/SLC-ANC, but it simply is limited in # of pilots/aircraft vs 2019. And it’s trying so hard to retaliate against NEA (and now even COPA) that it has already slowed down on its SLC growth plans along with its old focus cities of CVG/RDU.

    1. 20 flights between SEA and ANC is somewhat staggering.

      Seems that’s where one aircraft type is a pretty big disadvantage. Would love to see a few widebodies on that route instead of 20 737s. They should get a little subfleet of 787s!

  4. There needs to be caution with respect to the timeframes for decisions.
    For example, China is and will be less about market demand and more about restrictions on frequencies which the Chinese gov’t has imposed on US carriers and on their own carriers. Delta’s summer 2022 schedule only has Detroit and Seattle as gateways – ATL and LAX are both out – but flights for now are showing nonstop. American is down as well but not as much on a percentage basis. United has long been the most aggressive in posting schedules to China, only to have to pull them down later. Given that Delta and United are flying the same number of flights to China, I expect that won’t change until they can fly whatever they want – which does not appear to be the case.
    Tokyo to US schedules are more realistic; UA’s summer 2022 capacity is above 2019 while DL is more bullish on Tokyo than secondary Japan. ICN is the only E. Asia city where DL’s 2022 capacity is up while neither AA or UA are publishing full pre-covid schedules to even HKG.
    In Europe, Delta’s TATL schedules for 2022 are all to/from hubs except for PDX; no CVG, Florida, IND, or RDU. Whether that changes is up for debate but DL will have more aircraft available than they have schedules published.
    and then you have routes like AS transcons which are the result of years of re-evaluation of the former VS network and that is likely to be more solid.

    Schedules for the next six months for all carriers are more certain. Summer 2022 is still very much a work in progress for all carriers. There will likely be additions and further reductions.

    WRT AA and the next couple months, I cautiously throw out the possibility that they may expect a certain percentage of employees to leave the company over the next few months and are planning accordingly. Maybe so, maybe not. It does not appear WN has pulled down its schedules based on the need for improved operational reliability.

  5. @CF – what do you think Delta’s thinking is here with launching LAX and MCO to Panama? Copa likely sustains those markets on the feed they have in PTY, whereas DL can only hope to compete for the local market right?

    1. HBAlbany – It could mean that, but when I pull it up in Sabre, it shows all zeroes in availability for a booking on that short segment. So they don’t seem to want to sell that.

      1. I discovered an phenomenal 5th freedom flight on Singapore over the summer. We flew FCO to CPH. Amazing service for what otherwise would have been a crappy flight on SAS.

    2. SQ is flying SIN-YVR-SEA and vv starting Decemebr. Just an additional stop at YVR for the SIN-SEA flight. No 5th freedom between YVR and SEA.

  6. Maybe I’m being overly simplistic, but I’m a fairly simplistic thinker. All of the schedule minutiae is a symptom of airlines trying to figure out what the new normal is for the short term, and what it will be in the long run. The bottom line is that nobody knows what that new normal will be. All anyone can do is make an educated (or not so educated) guess.


    Captain Obvious

    1. Dear Capt. Obvious,
      you are spot on.
      Trying to extrapolate fuzzy data points in the future into sustainable market trends which are counter to verifiable data before and during the pandemic is highly unlikely to turn into reality.

      oh, and you forgot to say that “different is good” which, of course, it is. :-)

      1. That’s what UA did for their recent TA announcement…complete guesswork, albeit creative, using fuzzy data points. Many probably won’t stick long term.

        1. I don’t think what UA did was guesswork, I think they did their homework and the routes they announced and the routes they will resume across the Atlantic will make money for them next summer.

          Long term I think UA has a problem, they don’t have enough widebodies to sustain all the additional flying they will do across the Atlantic once the Pacific recovery begins. I think it is a fair assumption to say recovery in the Pacific may not fully begin until 2023 or later. If UA wishes to maintain the dominance they had across the Pacific pre-COVID then in 2023 they are going to have to draw down or cancel quite a few flights across the Atlantic because they don’t have enough widebodies in their fleet to maintain all the additional TATL flying they have planned as well as rebuild their Pacific operations once demand recovers across that region.

          Short term good for UA, long term they will have to tough decisions to make especially if these additional TATL flights prove profitable.

  7. LH seems to like BOS. The Frankfurt route stays daily and MUC is 5x weekly…besting all the other cities.

  8. Level making periodic schedule changes is just about the only time I get reminded I that the airline is still alive…

  9. What is happening with the suspended US—>HND flights? I know there are a lot waivers now, but is there a point where airlines will have to use or lose them? Could the waivers gradually lift, with airlines being required to operate a portion of them until they have to operate all services?

  10. It would seem Alaska is doing the only thing AS knows how to do: build a fortress around Seattle and cross your fingers that 2010 stock gains happen again. It is fascinating to see them constantly repeat the cycle of testing the waters in new business models and then hastily retreating back to SEA in a panic. Over and over, they just can’t find any other business model than making an SEA base and defending it.

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