How Airlines are responding to demand growth with domestic and international route expansion
The airlines have had quite a rough patch over the past 15 months having to manage reduced flight schedules, the necessity for aircraft storage, and overall reduced revenue. With the success of domestic vaccine availability, and the appetite for individuals and families to reconnect, many travelers are once again taking to the skies and the airlines are responding with new domestic and international routes to support the demand.
Much of the rebound seen in travel currently is for leisure trips. However, a recent survey conducted by the Global Business Travel Association found that over 60% of businesses are preparing for, or already permitting, non-essential travel. This along with the European Union’s efforts to allow international travel from fully vaccinated US travelers in the Summer, encourages airlines to prioritize new routes for what is expected to be a busy rebound into the Fall.
Based upon projections submitted by the OAG, which tracks trends on seat availability and schedules, it is anticipated that 2021 will have between 68 – 81% of the capacity levels of 2019. For more statistics, please find full report here.
For your convenience, we have summarized some of the key routing expansions for each of the major US Carriers as follows:
American Airlines is betting big on summer. The airline expects to fly more than 90% of its domestic seat capacity compared to summer 2019. With over 150 new routes planned this summer, including expansion from Austin, Bergstrom Airport as well as flights out of Newark, Liberty. In the latest announcement of the airline’s summer schedule, Orlando International Airport (MCO) is getting eight new routes. Moreover, widebodies will stay on short-haul and medium-haul Latin American and Caribbean routes out of Miami. Click Here to Read More.
As Delta moves into the summer, the airline is adding nine new routes and expanding services on over 20 destinations. The carrier is expecting a summer surge with expanded interest in domestic and short-haul international travel. As Delta takes delivery of some new jets and reactivates existing ones, it is ready to fight against its competitors for as many domestic leisure travelers as possible. Click Here to Read More.
Widebodies are often an exciting prospect, and US domestic widebody flights have risen by 12% this summer. Delta has become the largest domestic operator, usurping United, while some 73 routes have 100+ widebody flights.
In parallel with the American Airlines code share, JetBlue is planning significant expansion to seven new cities later this year into 2022. These new locations include expansion to either Boston and/or JFK from San Antonio, Kansas City, Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Asheville Regional Airport and San Pedro Sula in Honduras. Click Here to Read More.
Southwest Airlines also revealed plans to expand service in the coming months. Between late May and early June, the airline plans to add flights to Myrtle Beach from Baltimore, Chicago, Nashville, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Columbus and Indianapolis. It also said it would add flights out of Austin, Texas, to a handful of cities this summer. Click Here to Read More.
United Airlines announced it would be adding close to 500 daily domestic flights in June. Operating an average of 3,100 flights per day, this will bring the airline to 67% of its pre-crisis capacity. Most will connect cities in the Midwest to tourist destinations, such as Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; Portland, Maine; Savannah, Ga.; and Pensacola, Fla., as well as National Parks. United also said it planned to offer more flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America in May than it did in May 2019. Click Here to Read More.
From an International perspective, United updating aircraft for the Washington Dulles – Tel Aviv route to the more luxurious Dreamliner, and has announced starting in July the new nonstop flights from Newark Liberty (EWR) to Dubrovnik (DBV) in Croatia; Washington Dulles (IAD) to Athens (ATH) in Greece; and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Reykjavik (KEF) in Iceland.