Frontier Takes a Stab a November, Delta Swings at the Competition, and United Whacks International – Cranky Flier

Happy Monday, everyone. It was a quiet week in Airlineland as most residents stayed behind the scenes working on future plans, but that didn’t stop the Animal from putting out a first stab at November plans.

Meanwhile, the Eagle made a couple minor but possibly telling changes in the mountains, the Widget made more friends in Africa, and the Globe gave China, Oceania, and even some South American flying a haircut through the winter.

Oh, and did I mention Ms Blue? Well, that saucy little minx made a big splash by announcing a slew of new service last week, but that is worthy of its own post. I’ll cover that tomorrow. For today, however… Like sands through the hourglass, so are the skeds of air lines.

American Grows Aspen… But Not Everywhere

It was a quiet week for American, but that doesn’t mean there was nothing to report. The airline tactically bumped up some flying in a handful of markets ranging from Florida (Dallas/Fort Worth to Sarasota, for example) to the less likely — American will go from 1 daily to 2 in DFW to Yuma this winter. But Aspen saw the most action of all.

The sky destination gains additional frequencies from Chicago/O’Hare, DFW, and Phoenix. But wait, it’s not all good news. American’s already limited schedule from Los Angeles during the holidays is cut even more. That means there’s now one less flight operating December 17 through January 6. This is all minor, but does it reflect LA’s diminishing importance in the network? It feels a little like the “death by a thousand cuts” strategy while Phoenix continues to bulk up.

Delta Grows Africa, Swings at Other Airlines

It was only last Wednesday that United announced it would begin flying from Newark to Johannesburg and from Washington/Dulles to Accra and Lagos. Could Delta have already responded or was this just a happy coincidence? Delta loaded moves in all of these markets over the weekend.

  • Atlanta – Johannesburg goes from 5x weekly to 1x daily starting in March 27 (the beginning of the IATA summer season)
  • Atlanta – Lagos goes from 4x weekly to daily after the holiday season (when it’s already loaded as daily)
  • New York/JFK – Accra goes from 5x weekly to 1x daily starting October 1
  • New York/JFK – Lagos restart moves up from March 29 to December 11 and will operate 4x weekly instead of 3x weekly

It seems difficult for Delta to have put together a response to United that quickly, and if that’s the case, then this growth just reflects what United was thinking. Africa may be a bright spot.

Meanwhile, unhappy with JetBlue no doubt, Delta added the only intra-West market it doesn’t fly that JetBlue announced it would fly from Los Angeles — LAX to Reno — to the schedule twice a day starting December 19. It also begins flying from JFK to Salvador that day which seems like a market that’s had a lot of action from more than one airline.

There are a handful of Salt Lake routes — Eugene, Medford, and Tulsa — that bump up by one daily frequency this fall and winter. Medford also gets an extra frequency to Seattle.

Lastly, there’s poor Providence. I’m not sure why, but Delta took an axe to the city. Detroit drops from roughly 3 a day down to 2 while Atlanta goes from 3 to 1. Those are the only routes Delta flies from the city.

Frontier Takes a Look at November

Now that September is here, October is pretty much locked in. That means it’s time to start taking a harder look at November. Frontier has done just that.

2020 Frontier % of Flights versus 2019 via Cirium

Frontier didn’t schedule the same sort of backsliding this summer that other airlines did, but it had been pretty stagnant for some time. In October, it ticked up to above 60 percent, and now in November, the first shot is at a high 77 percent.

Is this wishful thinking? Possibly. After all, Frontier tweaks schedules a lot up until the last minute. (Case in point, it cut September a half point last weekend, and it’s already been September for more than a week.) But for now, it appears to be feeling a bit more bullish that things will ramp up.

United Hacks China, Oceania, and South American Flying

United spent last week talking about all the new international flying it would do, but that isn’t ready to be filed yet. No, instead, this week was filled with a lot of international cuts focused on China, Oceania, and South America for this winter.

  • Chicago/O’Hare – Bejing restart delayed until March 26
  • Chicago/O’Hare – Sao Paulo restart delayed until March 27
  • Houston/Intercontinental – Sydney restart delayed until March 26
  • Los Angeles – Melbourne restart delayed until March 26
  • Los Angeles – Sydney cut from daily to 3x weekly until March 26
  • Newark – Hong Kong restart delayed until March 26
  • Newark – Lima restart delayed until March 28
  • San Francisco – Auckland restart delayed until March 27
  • San Francisco – Hong Kong cut from 2x daily to 1x daily until March 27
  • San Francisco – Melbourne restart delayed until March 27
  • San Francisco – Shanghai/Pudong cut from 2x daily to 1x daily until March 26
  • Washington/Dulles – Beijing restart delayed until March 27
  • Washington/Dulles – Sao Paulo restart delayed until March 27

That is quite the lengthy haircut, but in Australia, it better matches what Qantas is expecting to see happen. And in China, well, that’s a whole different ball of wax anyway with all the political and security issues plaguing the market.

And that’s all for this week’s episode. Stay tuned tomorrow for a look at JetBlue’s moves, and then, come back next week to see what transpires in the next thrilling episode of Skeds of air Lines.

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