Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: JetBlue and Spirit End Things, United Grows Overseas

Cranky Weekly Review

JetBlue, Spirit Agree to See Other People

The long romance is finally over as JetBlue and Spirit formally agreed to end their courtship and move on to other relationships. In the end, hundreds of millions were spent on lawyers and guarantee payments to Spirit shareholders, and we’re back where we were when all this started — with JetBlue and Spirit as separate carriers, and JetBlue going at it alone in the northeast without any AAssistance.

In their breakup announcement, the two carriers said they still believe the failed partnership would have been best for consumers, giving serious “it’s not me, it’s you’ vibes to the DOJ. JetBlue will end up paying $69 million to Spirit to break up and formally end the partnership.

Spirit will now turn its attention to its mounting debt as the airline will have more than $1 billion come due in 2025 and 2026. The airline faces an uphill climb to remain solvent after the ending of the deal with JetBlue, with several Spirit executives seen flying to Denver over the last couple weeks, booking hotels near Frontier’s corporate headquarters and proposing painting various animals on the tails of Spirit aircraft.

United Makes Early Push for 2025 Cranky

The paint is barely dry on the 2024 Cranky Network Awards, but United Airlines is making an early push for nominees for next year’s Sexiest New Route categories, after the carrier announced three new international routes for its route map today, plus the resumption of a fourth.

New flights for United include Newark – Marrakech, Tokyo/Narita – Cebu, and Houston/IAH – Medellín. The carrier will also resume service between Los Angeles and Shanghai.

Newark – Marrakech will operate in the winter 3x weekly by United’s premium-heavy B767-300ER with 46 seats up front in Polaris. Tokyo/NRT – Cebu will operate year-round with 1x daily service beginning July 31, and marks a return for United operating service beyond Tokyo. Lastly, Houston/IAH – Medellín will also operate year-round and 1x daily, with service beginning October 27 on a B737-8 MAX.

American Places Large AAircraft Order

American Airlines placed an order for 260 airplanes, spreading the love between Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer, hedging that if it buys from all three manufacturers, at least one is likely to deliver the planes on-time.

The order includes options for up to 193 more planes in addition to the confirmed orders for 85 B737-10 MAXs, 85 A321neos, and 90 E175s. The carrier insisted in its agreement with Boeing that the fine print include that the MAX 10s must come with doors that stay on during flight — regardless of outside conditions.

AA expects the MAX 10 deliveries to begin as soon as 2028, which seems wildly optimistic at this point, but good for them for being so positive.

Air France-KLM looks to grow stake in SAS

As SAS begins to exit Star Alliance and enter SkyTeam, Air France-KLM is on the hunt to grow its stake in the Copenhagen-based airline up to a controlling amount.

Air France-KLM currently owns just 19% of SAS, but CEO Ben Smith says taking control of SAS is very much in the plans of his airline. AF/KL doesn’t expect too many competition watchdog issues with growing the stake in SAS, with it prepared to divest itself of slots in Amsterdam to Scandinavia to satisfy the European Commission. Schiphol officials are expected to support the plan, as nothing makes them happier than hearing an airline might divest itself of service from its airport.

SAS is also expected to eventually join SkyTeam’s transatlantic joint venture, which aligns with its recent announcement to begin flying to Atlanta later this summer.

United is Latest to Pause Pilot Hiring

A week after Southwest announced the same, United Airlines will pause hiring new pilots through at least June as it doesn’t have enough airplanes for its pilots to fly.

UA currently hopes to resume hiring in July, in contrast to Southwest which is expecting a much longer pause. United told pilots that the delay in aircraft delivery and certification from Boeing has forced it to reduce its pilot funnel until it acquires more of the airplanes it has on order. The carrier was scheduled to receive 43 MAX 8s and 34 MAX 9s this year, but now expects to only receive 37 MAX 8s and 19 MAX 9s, while it expects to receive none of the 80 MAX 10s it had hoped to receive in 2024.

  • Aer Lingus‘s order of A321XLRs is in jeopardy.
  • Air Asia‘s parent company, Capital A, is headed toward Wall St.
  • Air Canada has finally solved all its issues.
  • Air Europa is going to wet-lease the same A330 as Corsair. Air Europa will have it most of the time, but Corsair will get the plane on Wednesday afternoons, every other weekend, and two federal holidays of its choosing.
  • Air India‘s merger with Vistara received permission to move forward from Singapore’s government.
  • airBaltic is rolling in cash.
  • British Airways will be bringing its mediocre premium class product to new destinations in Thailand and Malaysia.
  • Canada Jetlines announced a wet-lease partnership with an unnamed “prominent” European carrier. Place your guesses in the comments.
  • Delta disabled wifi on some of its B767s due a technical issue. It’s expected to be out through May. The lack of internet access is expected to hurt Delta’s efforts to distract passengers from the fact they’re now paying more for checked bags.
  • El Al is looking to buy narrowbody aircraft. Then again, who isn’t?
  • Emirates continues to live on the edge.
  • Etihad is adding a new destination in India.
  • Ethiopian is adding up to 20 B777Xs.
  • Fiji Airways continues to bat its eyes at oneworld.
  • Jazeera named Barathan Pasupathi its new CEO.
  • LIAT‘s new startup carrier is expected to begin flying this spring.
  • Lufthansa ground staff is expected to strike this week. Again. Lufthansa is apparently considering dropping its bid for ITA, while at the same it expects to close the deal by the end of the year. Someone’s lying.
  • Miami Air won’t be operating charters if the DOT has anything to say about it.
  • PLAY will play in Marrakech and Funchal this year.
  • Porter is adding service from Montréal to both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • SkyWest is adding 20 E175s.
  • Southwest expects MAX 7 deliveries to begin in late 2025 or 2026. It also expects pigs to fly at some point.
  • Sunrise Airways was forced to sunset indefinitely.
  • Turkish says it plans free wifi for all passengers. Presumably it means passengers on its own flights, as providing free internet access for all passengers would be prohibitively expensive.
  • Virgin Australia is finally tired of dealing with people, and is taking on a new type of customer.

The man who invented throat lozenges died last week. There was no coffin at the funeral.

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14 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: JetBlue and Spirit End Things, United Grows Overseas

  1. Also of note for United’s international service, LAX-HKG and SFO-ICN are both going to 2x daily

    1. ET ha quite a few flights to North America that utilize a technical stop in Rome. This order would allow those to be non-stop both ways.

    2. Is NRT to Cebu a typical fifth freedom flight or under other arrangements?

        1. Really? That’s a thing? And if it is, I thought something similar was bequeathed upon the old Northwest Orient Tokyo operation.

          1. Bill – I think the right to fly beyond Japan originally came out of that time. I just don’t think it has changed. I don’t know that it was specifically “spoils of war” but you saw the same kind of thing in Germany, even more extreme, when Pan Am flew the Internal German Service.

  2. What is your take on AA wanting a decently big quantity of some decently big jets (85 x B737-10 MAXs, 85 x A321neos) when their focus is supposed to be on those small airports that basically no-one lives near?

    1. Outer Space – I think it likely makes sense. They can upgauge flights on A320/737-8/800 to bigger airplanes. Then they can upgauge A319s to A320/737-8/800 and free up more A319s for smaller routes, in theory. I still don’t know why they didn’t order an E2 though. That would make sense.

      1. Does American’s scope clause with pilots have a weight resection along with seat restriction? E2 is heavier than the original.

        1. Yes. That’s why American ordered E175-E1s It’s also part of why Embraer has suspended development of the E-175-E2.

        2. Matthew – I’m talking about the E2 as a small narrowbody on the mainline certificate. There’s a lot to like about that if you’re really going for smaller markets.

    2. American currently has 841 narrowbody aircraft in its fleet. Out of those, 181 are A319s and A320s. That works out to about 21.5%. In other words, nearly 80% of American’s narrowbodies are 737-800/8MAX or larger.

      The following is strictly a wild guess, based on what read here and elsewhere, American is refurbishing its smaller narrowbodies to buy time and smooth out its delivery schedule, a la Southwest. I foresee a large order for A220s in the next few years. I saw JonNYC mention that American is intrigued with the potential A220-500. If that’s the case, an order of about 200 A220-300s and -500s could be in the offing to replace the A319/A320s currently at American.

      As for the E-175, American is currently allowed 336 76-seat aircraft under its scope clause. It only has 284. That’s 52 fewer frames than it can have. And that doesn’t include what the airline can add if it expands its narrowbody fleet without retirements. American can add 4 E-175s for every 10 narrowbodies it adds to its fleet. Its real challenge is to find 6 seat jets to replace the CRJ-700s and E-170s it has. That is, if American even wants to replace those. It could certainly pull a Delta, and add more than 200 A220s to expand its E-175 fleet and become an all E-175 regional operator. It has the scope flexibility to do that.

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