Alaska Slashes the Fall, American Takes September Down, and Southwest Extends – Cranky Flier

It is time for another episode of Skeds of air Lines. This week may seem somewhat quiet on the surface, but underneath that facade, there’s turbulence a brewin’. The Eagle (American), the Eskimo (Alaska), and Pualani (Hawaiian) all proved to think alike, each taking September down a notch. The Eskimo, not one to be outdone, brought things down all the way into November. The Widget (Delta) did a little international pruning for October as well.

It’s not all bad news, however. The Big Yellow Bird (Spirit) actually bumped September up a bit. And the Tulip (sounds better than the Globe for United, right?) launched a few new routes, as we discussed here last week. Meanwhile, the Luv Bug (Southwest) extended its schedule all the way into April. It wasn’t a particularly eventful schedule, but that won’t stop us from talking about it.

All this and more on this week’s episode. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the…

American Takes September Down Again

This isn’t the first time, and it may not be the last. American has once again taken September schedules down. This time, flights have been cropped nearly 9 percent for the month.

Forty routes that were going to operate now… won’t. That includes 15 from Washington/National, 9 routes from Chicago, 8 from LA (including Boston), 4 from Miami (all international), 2 from Dallas/Fort Worth (both long haul, Haneda and Hong Kong), and a lonely 1 from both Phoenix (down to Mexico City) and Philly (to Asheville).

But there’s a bigger picture here. American has reverted to pieces of its previous strategy when demand was low. In Philadelphia, Tuesdays and Saturdays have been pulled down to near nothing. It’s back to only having service to the other hubs plus Boston and a couple of Florida cities. Here’s how it looks.

And then there’s Chicago. American had previously been planning a split schedule where Thursday through Sunday were peak days and Monday through Wednesday were off peak. Now, Thursday has been made off-peak. Here’s how it looks.

Alaska Gets Real Until Thanksgiving

This weekend, Alaska took the opportunity to pull down flying significantly through November 19. There’s a lot of Hawai’i and Canada coming down, and the suspension of JFK to LA is now going all the way until Thanksgiving. Will it ever come back?

The best way to look at this is from a high level. Here’s a look at flights this year compared to last year.

The dotted line is what was there last week. The solid line is what’s there now. Make no mistake… November may look like it’s seeing big growth, but that’s really from November 20 through the end of the month during the holiday season which hasn’t been touchded yet. Until then, it’s pretty similar to October.

Delta Adjusts Europe, More in October

Delta has done some early pulling down for October and into November. Much of the pulldown is to match what’s happening in September already. For example, Amsterdam to Minneapolis, Portland, and Salt Lake all remain suspended. There is a whole lot more than that.

Interestingly, the 3 weekly flights from Atlanta to Dublin in September go away in October, but JFK to Dublin comes back into the schedule. Meanwhile, as another example, Boston to London has one more flight per week in October than September while JFK to Milan has two more. The are a lot of adjustments going in both directions.

There are 10 routes that come back into existence. JFK to Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, and Zurich are scheduled to return in October, as is Seattle to Paris. In the Americas, it looks like Atlanta to Grand Cayman, Liberia, San Jose (CR), and San Salvador all come back, as does JFK to Bermuda. Considering we know nothing about where Americans will be able to travel in October, I’d consider this a very preliminary hope of a schedule.

Huge Allegiant News

Just kidding. Allegiant put nonstops from Boston to Grand Rapids and Austin to Louisville into the Oct/Nov schedule. Try to contain your excitement.

Hawaiian Gets Ahead of the Quarantine Curve

It has been a rough go of things for Hawaiian, and it’s not looking better in September. Usually Hawaiian waits until a decision is made on extending the quarantine before setting its schedule, but that’s not happening in September. It’s just assuming the extension is a foregone conclusion.

On mainland flying versus August, LA to Honolulu goes from daily to 8 weekly. That’s the good news. Portland to Honolulu drops from daily to 5 weekly and Sacramento to Honolulu goes from daily to 3 weekly.

On interisland flying, there is modest growth on all 717 routes from Honolulu and Kahului, but it’s not much to speak of. It’s just another slog of a month for the airline.

Spirit Actually Grows in September

Spirit has already pulled down September, but apparently it’s having regrets. The airline is adding 5 routes and increasing frequencies on 12 others.

Let’s just bask in the glow of this relatively minor growth. It’s… something.

United Takes a Swing On New Routes

You already know all about United’s new flights from a bunch of non-hubs in the Northeast and Midwest down to Florida. Or if you don’t, well, read this.

But United also snuck in a couple of other new routes this week. The EAS-supported route from Denver to Cheyenne joins the network on November 12 while Houston to Tallahassee comes online November 18. The latter joins three other panhandle airports already served by United. Apparently there’s room for one more?

Oh, and we can’t forget the news that the booming metropolis of Presque Isle in Maine sees 5 weekly flights move from Newark down to Washington/Dulles starting October 1. Newark still keeps 1 daily.

Lastly, United is beefing up some frequencies in Latin markets from October into next year. I’m not sure if this is just wishful thinking or what, but United is at least being hopeful here.

Southwest Extends the Schedule And Adds An Interesting Route

This week, Southwest extended its scheduled into the middle of April. That’s a pretty lengthy extension, but it doesn’t look too significant overall. I mean, considering how far away January is, I’m not surprised to see this as mostly just an extension of what was happening in December with a little seasonal fluctuation thrown in. Here’s the map showing just how things look year-over-year.

As you can see, Southwest is staying relatively flat year-over-year from the end of October through the schedule, but let’s be honest, this is far from final. September is the last realistic month we have right now. We’ll just have to wait until things get closer to know what the real plan will be for each subsequent month.

But wait, I did mention an interesting new route. You probably think I’m talking about Steamboat Springs which gets its first Southwest service from Denver and Dallas (on weekends for the latter), but no. I’m more interested in one looooong flight… Norfolk to San Diego.

Southwest has been shying away from transcon flying for some time, but this one bucks the trend. It’s also a special case. This is the Navy express, shuttling military folks back and forth. In 2019, this was the largest route without nonstop service in the US. Ok, ok, Southwest flew it on Saturdays 9 times last year, so technically there was service there, but I’m not really counting that.

Last year, the route had 181 passengers per day each way. Now it’ll have a nonstop, but why now? Ah, well, guess who just snagged the government contract rate away from Delta? That’s right. Starting October 1, Southwest is the government contractor. Anyway, just thought that was a fun little tidbit.

And that’s a wrap on what was a relatively uneventful week. Next week… you’re on your own. I’ll be on vacation starting tomorrow for a week. If there’s something incredible that happens, I’ll cover it on delay. Otherwise, you can go watch re-runs of past weeks on Skeds of air Lines.

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