April 14, 2021

American’s Aggressive Summer Schedule

American Airlines will operate more than 150 new routes this summer, with the airline flying more than 90% of its domestic capacity and 80% of its international capacity compared to summer 2019. It expects some of the flights to operate on-time, and it is rumored that some of the international flights may actually have passengers.

Highlights of the new schedule additions include a daily nonstop between Raleigh-Durham and Nashville along with two new flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Bangor, ME (BGR) and Burlington, VT (BTV).  Because nothing shouts “highlight” like Bangor, Maine.

Another example of “highlight” needing to be in quotes is Orlando, which leads the way with eight new Saturday-only non-hub routes beginning June 5. If you live in a medium-sized city in the midwest, or near the midwest, you can safely assume you’ll be getting a flight.

Miami will also see an upgrade to the west coast, JFK, and to six destinations in South America, with widebodies for all. American will put its 787 Dreamliner aircraft on daily flights to Cali (CLO), Guayaquil (GYE), Lima (LIM), Medellin (MDE), Port-au-Prince (PAP) and Quito (UIO), all of which seem slightly better than just parking the airplanes in the desert.

JetBlue and AA Northeast Alliance Undergoes Further Scrutiny

The proposed Northeast Alliance between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways will undergo a more detailed examination from the Department of Justice’s antitrust division in the coming weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) signed off on the deal earlier this year, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not weighed in. With a new Biden Administration likely to be tougher than the previous regime, the DOJ is now taking a closer look. It has not helped that several airlines – led by Spirit – have objected to the partnership based on anticompetitive actions taken by the two airlines primarily at three northeast airports: New York/JFK, New York/LaGuardia, and Washington/National.

The DOJ is expected to investigate Spirit’s formally-filed objections that coordination in the northeast could lead to higher prices for consumers. Spirit wants nothing to do with higher ticket prices; it wants American and JetBlue to stuff their high prices into nonsensical fees like a real airline does it.

Really what Spirit wants — along with United — is for American and JetBlue to divest themselves of slots at all three airports so they can get their hands on them instead.

Southwest Devalues Rapid Rewards

A rapid change in the value of Rapid Rewards points came overnight, with Southwest making all point redemptions 6% more expensive while simultaneously annoying countless loyal travelers and credit card mileage schemers.

The airline took a page out of the Delta SkyMiles playbook, enhancing the price of rewards with no warning to its customers. Existing bookings are still valid at the previous price, but any changes to those itineraries will be repriced at the new redemption levels.

Previously, Wanna Get Away fares cost between 76-78 points per dollar, with Anytime and Business Select consistently at 78 points per dollar. With the update the airline made overnight, redemptions will now cost 83 points per dollar – a valuation of ~1.2 cents per point.

The change did not appear to affect cash fares. This is the first enhancement of Rapid Reward redemption rates (RRRR) since 2018 when the airline made a similar 6% devaluation. The change likely is correlated to the glut of Rapid Rewards points in the market. With earning rates staying steady, especially with those who earn points via credit card purchases, but travel being way down in 2020, this change help Southwest clear more points off its balance sheet.

Oh Canada: True North Strong and Free: Except for the Caribbean

Air Canada is extending its suspension of flights to most “sun destinations” through the end of May, matching announcements from its fellow Canadian airlines.

Canada’s four largest airlines — Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing, and WestJet — agreed earlier this year to stop flying to most sun destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico through April 30 at the request of the Canadian government. All four are extending their suspensions beyond that deadline. In addition to Air Canada’s holding off through May, WestJet will not resume flying to the Caribbean until June 4, Air Transat is holding off until June 14, and Sunwing will pick things back up on June 23.

The Canadian government’s border is still closed to Americans and other foreign, non-essential visitors. While Canadian residents can return following international travel to any destinations including Mexico and the Caribbean, the federal government is strongly discouraging leisure and non-essential travel.

Air Canada will continue to operate cargo-only flights to three destinations – Mexico City, Barbados, and Kingston, Jamaica. In rare instances, it will fly some passengers on the return portion of those cargo flights – back to Canada – to repatriate those Canadians who either need to hitch a ride back home or those Latin/Caribbean residents who exhibit superior ice hockey and/or bobsledding skills.

Norwegian CEO Says Norwegian Needs More Money

Norwegian Air Shuttle, the Babe Ruth of bankruptcy filings, needs more money if its to continue filing for bankruptcy flying, according to its CEO.

The airline has recently received approval for its restructuring plan from bankruptcy courts in both Oslo and Dublin — or as it’s known in airline circles, the Deep in Debt Double — allowing it to cut its debt obligations by converting them to stock. But both courts agreed to debt-cutting provision on the condition that the airline raise 4.5 billion crowns (~$207 million) on its own.

The airline duped the Norwegian government received a cash infusion from the Norwegian government to cover the first 1.5 billion crowns, but it needs to raise the remaining three billion crowns (approximately $133 million). That process will require Norwegian to find rich investors who love the airline industry and have no good use for material possessions or money.

  • Air France’s cargo flights to and from Brazil will continue, but all other flights between the two nations have been suspended indefinitely by the French government.
  • Air Tunilik, a Canadian seaplane operator has received C$5 million in aid from Québec. It had to promise to only speak French, and not to speak English, to any potential customers in exchange for the cash.
  • Alaska was so impressed by United’s plan to convert trash to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) yesterday, that it announced its own plan today. You might want to click the link, print the release and leave it by the toilet for quality reading material later on.
  • Avianca says it will fly again, but it will need to right-size its airline, planning to emerge from bankruptcy with fewer aircraft and fewer employees.
  • China Southern is reviewing the future of the A380 in its fleet. The airline is also reportedly reviewing the number of sticky pads and ballpoint pens in its supply closet.
  • FlyArystan is beginning its first international service into Georgia (this one, not this one), flying to three cities beginning May 2.
  • Jazeera Airways’s board of directors has recommended the airline increase its cash on-hand via a capital increase. My online banking app tells me the same thing every time I log on.
  • Norse Atlantic Airways, the airline being started by three guys named Bjørn, has fooled investors into raising $165 million for the airline’s IPO.
  • PLAY, a fun-focused Icelandic startup airline has raise $35 million in play money real money through a private share offerings.
  • Qantas intends to return its entire A380 fleet to active operations but not until 2024. Stay tuned to Cranky Daily for updates on this story as it unfolds over the next four years.
  • Red Wings Airlines is launching a new base at Chelyabinsk (CEK).
  • Royal Air Maroc has suspended flights to 17 countries through May 21 because of Morocco closing its borders due to a new wave of COVID infections.
  • Ryanair realized it hadn’t sued anyone lately, so its taking the EU to court over Finnish, Danish, and Swedish aid favoring Finnair and SAS.
  • Smartwings has resumed flying between its Prague hub and St. Petersburg/Pulkovo (LED).
  • Southwest operated its inaugural flight to Santa Barbara yesterday, a nonstop flight from Las Vegas. The inaugural wasn’t supposed to operate until this weekend, but Santa Barbara Airport Administration purchased Early Bird.

I saw a porcupine try and race a squirrel today, and it lost the race badly. It really was a slowpoke.