Airlines continue to revise schedules in the face of reduced demand and new government restrictions related to COVID-19. With those changes, it is possible to read into not only how the airlines see the current situation, but also what expectations are for the recovery. With the announcements made on Thursday night American Airlines signaled a couple key considerations for itself and the industry at large.
Asia recovery will take longer
American’s flights from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires are suspended not just for a month or two, but through the entire summer season. Similarly, the carrier’s LAX-China/Hong Kong routes were previously announced as suspended through the summer, and Tokyo will fly with a smaller aircraft.
This all adds up to an indication that the recovery of traffic from Asia to the Americas is going to be a slog, not a quick return. At least that’s what American Airlines expects. Given that IATA and other projections were based on a quick “V-shaped” recovery this slower prediction suggests that the revenue hit will be even more significant than the already eye-watering numbers.
The old planes will leave faster
During the JP Morgan Aviation conference earlier this week CEO Doug Parker hinted that some of the companies oldest planes could be retired on a more aggressive schedule. While he specifically mentioned the oldest 757s and E190s, that wasn’t all that the carrier had in its plans. Now we know more details.
The company’s 767s are to be grounded by May 2020. That moves up the schedule by a year. The 757s are now going to leave the fleet by end of summer 2021, two years faster than previously planned.
While this could be seen as bad news for the company’s growth capabilities it should be good news for passenger comfort on board. These oldest planes are flying with interiors and amenities that significantly trail the industry in terms of passenger comfort. No entertainment screens, older seats, generally just not nice.
That’s not likely to offset the loss of service for passengers on routes being cut – anything is better than nothing in most cases – but the planes are not holding up great inside.
On the plus side, it means that new deliveries from Airbus and Boeing are more likely to continue, unless American needs to drastically shrink in the coming years.
Bonus Idea: Building to airline needs
Early schedule shifts were quick and selective changes, as if the airlines did not expect the outbreak to be nearly as bad as it is. The latest changes, from American and most others, are now rolling out based on how the airlines schedule their planes and crew, sharing with expectations of passenger demand rather than being driven by it. The airlines now know that this is a long-term issue and are planning for the cuts to roll longer than currently booked. United’s Kirby said essentially the same thing on Tuesday, noting that carrier is working about three months out at any given time.
More on COVID-19 and the airlines affected
- Alaska Airlines offers elite bonus earning in face of COVID-19 booking weakness
- Massive cuts, uncertain recovery timelines for aviation in the face of COVID-19
- Qantas cuts international 25% through September facing coronavirus-induced demand drop
- Spirit Airlines plans 5% growth reduction for April as COVID-19 hurts demand
- American Airlines slashes schedule, increases flexibility for customer rebookings
- US to block some European visitors
- Two key takeaways from American’s latest schedule cuts
- Regulators suspend slot rules, opening door to deeper airline cuts
- Beyond route cuts, airlines initiate extended suspension of operations
- Gogo looks to ride out coronavirus-related dip in demand
- Trans States Airlines: The first US airline victim of COVID-19
- JetBlue removes 40% of capacity, delays new deliveries as demand drops
- Airlines get a break on coronavirus EC261 comp, looking for more
- Airport lounges shutter as airlines slash capacity
- Will COVID-19 delay the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport?
- Qatar Airways plans 75% capacity cut in response to COVID-19
- Emirates, Turkish Airlines slash route networks, ground aircraft
- JetBlue plans additional draw down in service
- Is it time for US airports to start closing terminals??
- Converting to cargo: Putting passenger planes to use in the COVID-19 era
- IATA anticipates recession, slower recovery, as COVID-19 impact drag on
- US carriers cut frequencies, not destinations as they seek federal funding
- JetBlue plans 70%+ cut in April operations
- Cancelled flights, vouchers and the airline cash flow crunch
- Spirit Airlines reportedly cutting 90% of flights
- US airlines cut deep, but not deep enough
- An eerie quiet over New York City: The flights are gone
- Who wants what? How the US airlines are responding with CARES Act funding on the line
- Delta, United extend elite status by a year, adjust other benefits
- DOT adjusts, finalizes airline route requirements for CARES Act funding.
- Lufthansa announces major, permanent fleet restructuring
- Air Canada, Alaska Airlines extend elite status
- Deeper cuts, reprotect options coming for JetBlue
- Air Canada replaces seats with cargo in 777-300ER cabin
- American Airlines extends status, eases qualification
- A new take on amenity kits in the COVID-19 era
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 1
- Stuck in the past, DOT botches its CARES Act implementation
- DOT grants exemptions to Delta, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines under CARES Act obligations
- Introducing yin-yang seating for economy class
- Inflight social distancing will kill short-haul LCC travel: IATA
- Gogo furloughs 60% of workforce, applies for CARES Act support
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 2
- De Havilland, Air Canada Cargo partner on Dash 8-400 cargo conversion
- JetBlue plans new route network for CARES Act compliance
- Spirit Airlines running triangle routes to meet CARES Act requirements
- Sun Country wins big as United, Frontier lose in latest CARES Act ruling
- Frontier Airlines pushes new route plan for CARES Act compliance
- Argentina plans to restart flights in September 2020
- Spirit Airlines asks DOT again to drop destinations
- Delta Flight Products, TechOps develop isolation pod for COVID-19 military transport
- JetBlue aims to drop 16 "major hub" destinations from its network
- Allegiant scores leniency from DOT in CARES Act obligations
- Panasonic Avionics implements furloughs to address slowing business
- American, Delta confirm accelerated fleet retirements
- Airbus aims to ease "COVID Combi" temporary freighter conversions
- The Weekly Wrap: FlightPlan, personal screening and more!
- United’s long-haul operations focus on a new "workhorse"
- United plans touchless bag tag kiosks
- Temperature scans in, 767s out for Air Canada, Rouge
- JetBlue, Spirit score exemptions to drop service at major US airports
- IATA recommends against blocked middle seats, favors "layered" protections
- United plans to resume (cargo for now) Hong Kong-Singapore service
- JetBlue suspends six cities through June
- Project Wingman USA Opens Lounges for Frontline Healthcare Heroes at Two Major New York City Hospitals
- Cape Air’s ugly April stats (and some possible good news for May)
- Fighting for the middle: A pandemic seating shift
- Avianca declares bankruptcy, seeks protection in restructuring
- United raises ire in cutting hours for salaried employees
- DOT further relaxes airline CARES Act obligations
- Allegiant sees quick recovery on the horizon
- Delta drops 777 fleet as coronavirus cuts continue
- JetBlue offers free TrueBlue Mosaic status, plus a year extension
- United faces lawsuit over M&A employees pay cut
- Optimism on the horizon: The Weekly Wrap 15 May 2020
- Beached Whale: A380’s future turns more bleak
- TSA implementing lower-touch screening protocols
- Volotea plans for growth into a COVID-affected Summer
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- LATAM seeks US bankruptcy protection, plans to continue operations
- JetBlue plans return of international markets in June
- Frontier, Mobile bicker over flights to Orlando
- US retaliates against China, blocking all flights
- China blinks, US to back down on flight ban
- ATPCO moves to ease ticketing changes for airlines worldwide
- Inflight magazines are not dead yet: The Weekly Wrap–5 June 2020