US airlines recovery after pandemic

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to increase flights to some destinations

Major and regional airlines gear up to respond to slow-paced increase of travel demand. To diminish the losses accumulated during the economy lock down American, United, Delta, and Southwest want to capture the possible increase of passenger demand as the US economy gradually opens up.

The travel market certainly changed and it may be long before it ever restores to its levels of 2019 airline executes say. Such new business environment calls for agility and adjustments.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is the biggest budget airline in the US. It took steps to get the business it needs for its future survival. Earlier in May Southwest started taking new business travel bookings via Travelport’s Apollo and Worldpsan Global Distribution Systems. One of the tools budget airlines use to keep the price of airline ticket low is to sell flights on their websites exclusively. Southwest deviating from this model involved third parties into their product distribution chain in an effort to sell no matter the cost.

“We’re rounding out our plan for this unprecedented year with our business travelers in mind with a fourth quarter schedule that brings them new routes across the country. We’re also offering more flights for all of our Customers in places such as Denver, Las Vegas, Nashville, and Phoenix,” said Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer in a statement last month.

“We anticipate business travelers will hit the road with a heightened focus on costs, so we’re pairing unmatched schedules with our value and Hospitality to welcome them back, whenever they’re ready to travel.”

United Airlines

The second largest US carrier, United Airlines is planning to resume 150 more flights from their Canadian and US destinations, according to NPR. This is only 23% of United’s passenger capacity from June 2019 and it shows how low travel demand has dropped.

US flights are currently down by 72% nationwide compared to their levers in January of this year according to the industry association Flights for America.

American Airlines

The second largest airlines in the world by revenue hasn’t been spared by the corona virus pandemic. For the last week of May American Airlines (AA) reported 80% decrease of domestic travel vs. the same period in 2019. On Thursday, June 04 American announced in a statement that’s “planning to fly more than 55% of its July 2019 domestic capacity in July 2020,” and it’s “resuming lounge service on June 22 at 11 Admirals Club lounges in 10 key US. cities.”

Even though international demand is much slower to return the AA said it will return service to eight international destinations. These include service:

  • from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Amsterdam (AMS),
  • from Paris (CDG) and Frankfurt (FRA), as well as service 
  • from Miami (MIA) to Antigua (ANU) in the Caribbean
  • and Guayaquil (GYE) and Quito (UIO) in South America.

American also restores additional service to London (LHR) from Chicago (ORD) and New York (JFK). However, American will delay the return of some previously announced international routes—including transatlantic service from Philadelphia (PHL) and Charlotte (CLT) — to August. The airline will operate the following long-haul international flights in July.

The second biggest in the world by passenger capacity Delta Airlines is taking a completely different route. To mitigate its loss of Covid-19 as of July 8 Delta suspended operations in 11 US markets.

“As the world responds to the Covid-19 pandemic, Delta continues to face an unprecedented impact to our business, and suspending operations at these airports will reduce costs where customer demand is low,” said Sandy Gordon, Senior Vice President – Domestic Airport Operations. “We will move quickly to work with affected customers, whose patience we sincerely appreciate as we navigate this unprecedented time together.”

The affected 11 markets are:

  • Aspen, CO (ASE),
  • Bangor, ME (BGR),
  • Erie, PA (ERI),
  • Flint, MI (FNT),
  • Fort Smith, AR (FSM),
  • Lincoln, NE (LNK),
  • New Bern/Morehead/Beaufort, NC (EWN),
  • Peoria, IL (PIA), Santa Barbara, CA (SBA),
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA (AVP), and
  • Williston, ND (XWA).

Additionally, Delta permanently stops service to Ottawa International Airport as of June 21. Delta has announced an 85% reduction in second quarter schedule, which includes reductions of 80% in US domestic capacity and 90% internationally.

With the reopening of the US economy industry experts expect passengers to take it back to the skies incrementally. It will be a gradual recovery that it may take years, the experts say. Over 7 million jobs in the travel industry have been lost according to the The U.S. Travel Association.

“Our national economy is in a recession, but the travel industry is already in a depression,”the President and CEO Roger Dow of US Travel Association said in a statement. Regardless of the current situation, we’re sure that as long as the economy stays open the travel demand will gradually be restored.

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Ian Powers is a travel blogger and nature enthusiast. Ian has over 20 years of aviation travel experience.

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