Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Southwest & JetBlue Add, Frontier’s Newest Loyalty Frontier

Cranky Weekly Review

Southwest Announces Q3 Financials, Extends and Adds to Schedule

Southwest Airlines squeaked out a $193 million profit during Q3 on a record revenue figure of $6.5 billion. The gross revenue represents a 5% increase from last year despite a nearly 7% drop in Q3 RASM as Southwest had fewer close-in bookings than it projected.

The carrier also extended its schedule through August 4 and added 24 new routes, led by six new international destinations from its Orlando hub focus city that it moved over from Fort Lauderdale. Beginning June 4, Southwest will begin daily flights from MCO to:

  • Cancun
  • Grand Cayman
  • Nassau
  • Providenciales
  • Punta Cana
  • San Jose (CR)

Burbank is adding five, with nonstop daily service also beginning June 4 and flying to:

  • Boise
  • Kansas City
  • New Orleans
  • San Antonio
  • St Louis

Dallas/Love is adding summer, Saturday-only flights to Buffalo, Fresno, Providence, and Spokane while Nashville adds Saturday-only summer flights to Bozeman and Grand Rapids. Other additions are Colorado Springs to Baltimore (daily), Columbus to Kansas City and San Diego (daily), Pittsburgh to San Diego (Saturday only), Denver to Greenville/Spartanburg (Saturday only), El Paso to Chicago/Midway (daily), and Eugene to Sacramento (daily).

Southwest finished the quarter with $12.7 billion of liquidity which it’s holding in reserve for potential compensation for toiletries and rental cars in the event of another December meltdown.

JetBlue Adds Across the Pond

JetBlue Airways is adding two new destinations in Europe – giving it five total – in Dublin and Edinburgh, with seasonal service to begin for both in the spring.

The carrier will launch daily service from both Boston and New York/JFK to Dublin on March 13, and from JFK to Edinburgh on May 22, with all three ending for the season on September 30.  All three flights will operate on traditional schedules, leaving BOS or JFK around 10 p.m. and arriving the next morning, with the westbound return leaving about noon and arriving in the mid-afternoon. 

DUB and EDI service will operate on JetBlue’s minty-fresh A321neo aircraft, which do not feature ovens.  Unlike the A321LRs which fly to AMS, CDG, and LHR, JetBlue will have to restrict itself to cold corn beef, cabbage, and haggis on-board in both directions, unless it manages to invent a way to heat meals with a heat source – while onboard an aircraft – in the next six months.

And while it’s adding new cities, the airline figured it might as well add frequencies as well.  It’ll add Boston to Paris flights on April 3, while adding a second daily Paris frequency from New York/JFK on June 20.

Frontier’s Loyalty Program Enters New Frontier

Frontier is following in the steps of the kids who sit at the cool table in the cafeteria, as it switches its FRONTIER miles loyalty program to being revenue-based instead of mileage-based beginning next year. This is part of the airline’s plan to reverse its losses just reported for the 3rd quarter.

Frontier’s program used to have three elite levels, but it now has four.  Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond replace Elite 20k, Elite 50k, and Elite 100k, at least for as long as it takes for Delta to sue over the names. Each tier will require 10k qualifying miles, 20k, 50k, and 100k respectively. Non-members earn 10x miles per dollar spent — going up to 20x per for Diamond members — which makes retaining status easier than earning status.

The benefits are very ULCC-focused, meaning as you get higher on the chart, you can opt out of more and more fees. 

Silver members receive opt-outs such as free seat assignments, while customers along the way can earn free checked bags, free in-cabin pets (it’s just a waiver to bring your own pet, Frontier doesn’t offer them a selection to choose from upon boarding), status gifting, and more.  It didn’t remove the biggest impediment from earning elite status through — having to actually fly Frontier to both earn the points and reap the rewards – and forcing customers to actually fly on the airline to use the new perks is expected to keep most from taking advantage of the new program.

Spirit Posts Brutal Q3 Loss

Spirit Airlines lost $157.6 million during Q3 on $1.3 billion in gross revenue.  The loss represented a 15% drop from a year ago and comes on the heels of softer demand for its product, according to CEO Ted Christie.

With its challenging quarter in the book, the carrier now plans to scale back from growth opportunities while deferring new aircraft deliveries that were currently on their way to the airline.  It also plans to host a fee summit where it looks to find new ways to nickel and dime customers back to profitability. Some options being considered are an oxygen mask emergency fee where customers must swipe their credit card to have their oxygen mask come out during an emergency.  The carrier plans to implement dynamic pricing for the oxygen fee, depending on how dire the situation is on-board. In completely unrelated news, Spirit is expecting a significant increase in the number of decompressions.

The airline is looking ahead to its merger with JetBlue, with the trial over the Justice Department’s attempt to block the transaction beginning on Wednesday.  Spirit concluded the quarter with $1.2 billion in unrestricted cash, most of which is expected to first be physically used to stop the hemorrhaging, then be spent on blue paint to swap its aircraft from their distinctive yellow livery to that of JetBlue.

Breeze Blows into the Magnolia State

Breeze is adding three new routes to its seasonal schedule for this winter and is adding its first foray into Mississippi, beginning service to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, the official airport of Chat GPT.

From Gulfport, it’ll operate to both Las Vegas and Tampa, with 2x weekly flights launching January 12. The Vegas flight will double as a shuttle from the casinos on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast to those in Las Vegas, and the average age is expected to be about 87 on the flights. Breeze president Tom Doxey said residents of the Gulf Coast will now have convenient and affordable service to two of the country’s most popular destinations, proving that he’s never actually been to Tampa himself.

In addition to these two from GPT, Breeze is also starting new 2x weekly flights between Akron and Raleigh-Durham beginning February 2, highlighting service between two cities that no one likely will ever need to travel between ever.

  • Air Canada lost the wheelchair on a flight from Toronto to Vancouver of the person at the airline who’s job it is to make sure it doesn’t lose wheelchairs.
  • Air France-KLM posted a profit of about $1 billion on $9.15 billion of revenue.
  • Air Greenland might add airplanes. It also might not.
  • Air Transat is launching service from Montréal to Marrakech (RAK). The 2x weekly service beginning in June will mark the carrier’s first route to Africa.
  • American might order some planes. It also might not.
  • Bamboo is ending service to both Sydney and Melbourne as it shrinks its operation in an effort to stay in business.
  • BRA finally ran out of support.
  • British Airways completed its lounge refresh at LHR’s T5.
  • Delta extended its suspension of service to Tel Aviv through November 15.
  • Etihad will begin daily, nonstop service to Nairobi on May 1.
  • FedEx is flying to Israel again.
  • Fiji Airways will add a third weekly nonstop to Vancouver this December.
  • Finnair reported a solid Q3.]
  • Frontier lost $32 million in Q3, blaming low sales, which checks out. As a cost saving effort, both Fran the Sea Lion and Hops the Rabbit have been told their jobs are on the line if Q4 doesn’t show a dramatic improvement for the airline.
  • Hawaiian‘s A330 and A321 fleets will be getting new parts from Lufthansa Technik.
  • JAL is retiring its last B777-200ER.
  • JetBlue is doing its best impersonation of “Angry man yells at cloud.”
  • Korean says it won’t fire Asiana’s employees when its merger is complete, which is probably the right things to say when you’re still looking for government approval of the merger whether you mean it or not.
  • Lufthansa is bringing A380 service back to its Munich – Bangkok route.
  • Qantas linked up with Rachel Yangoyan, naming her the new CEO of QantasLink.
  • Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker resigned, effective next week.
  • SAS is beginning to codeshare with Etihad beginning this December for travel beginning in January.
  • SkyWest had a profitable Q3.
  • Southwest reached a tentative agreement with its flight attendants. Those who paid for early bird can see the agreement today, everyone else will see it in the order they line up 24 hours from now.
  • SWISS is growing its air and rail links.
  • Turkish is adding to two U.S. gateways — Atlanta will go from 7x to 10x weekly beginning June 11, Detroit from 4x to 5x beginning July 11, and Seattle will go from a Dreamliner to A350-900 beginning July 8.
  • United flight attendants filed a discrimination lawsuit after being forced to watch the Dodgers get pounced out of the postseason by the Diamondbacks. It’s also adding new 4x weekly service to Faro, Portugal from Newark.
  • Ultimate Jet ultimately decided to enter Chapter 11 proceedings.
  • Virgin Atlantic will say “Howdy, Partner” in Austin for the final time on January 7.

When I was in college, my uncle told me it was pointless for me to apply to medical school because I was “too much of a partier and too stupid to be a doctor.”

Well its eight years later and one of us is an unemployed loser with a drinking problem and the other is making six figures and going to Maui to renew his wedding vows with my aunt.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

10 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Southwest & JetBlue Add, Frontier’s Newest Loyalty Frontier

  1. I am really curious about the folks who earned thier Frontier Diamond/elite 100k. What do they do and what kind of route to put 100k butt-in-seat miles in Frontier? How much do they spend on all the fees and physical therapy? 100k on the big 3 is normal for those road warriors, but Frontier? That is way too uncomfortable and the network coverage is just not there. On a side note, yellow + blue makse green, after the new paint job, are we sure Spirit jets won’t be in Frontier color?

    1. You can buy the 100k status if you wish through their status match program. F9 monitizes everything:) It is a pretty good deal for a weekly traveler from ISP to florida during the winter. I dont think Frontier is designed for a road warrior, more for a frequent leasure travler.

    2. I can’t imagine that they have more than a handful of 100k elites. Heck, even 50k is a lot of flying if you don’t cross an ocean a few times.

  2. Wrt the Air Canada piece, it’s worse! They delayed the wheel chair of the officer of Parliament whose job it is to raise accessibility issues.

    Major fail.

  3. So Southwest booked a measly 3% margin during the busy summer travel quarter. Hard to think Q4 or Q1 will be profitable, especially as demand declines this time of year. WN is going to have to figure out how to be more profitable, especially when it is going to have to settle with SWAPA soon and will have more costs from the new contract. They need to better monetize the Rapid Rewards Program with Chase like DL has done with AMEX.

  4. I never had the chance to fly Ultimate Air Shuttle, but I always thought that its business model was fascinating and had promise as a niche model. I know UAS hasn’t flown for a while, but still disappointed to see the parent company go bust.

  5. Did you even read the Air Canada article? She is a member of the Canadian government, not an employee of Air Canada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier