World News – US – Airlines experiment with new routes in ‘musical chair game’ to stem billions of dollars in pandemic losses


Airlines spent the first few weeks of the pandemic cutting routes and parking hundreds of planes to cut costs as passenger numbers fell to lowest level since the 1950s

Some airlines are now launching new routes, in hopes that they can turn a small rise in air travel into desperately needed income Some airlines are moving to some of what are normally some of the most popular airports more crowded in the country, hoping to make inroads as air traffic is relatively low

« It’s a game of musical chairs, » said Robert Mann, airline analyst and former airline executive

JetBlue Airways announced two dozen new routes last month, including several between the United Airlines hub at Newark Liberty International Airport and the Caribbean Southwest Airlines last week unveiled plans to fly to the Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where United dominates, as well as Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a stronghold of United and American Airlines Meanwhile, United is launching a host of new routes to Florida for the season vacation and aims to return to New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport early next year after more than five years of absence

“It has all been about consuming cash for the last six months,” Ankit Gupta, vice president of home network planning at United Airlines “In the future, we hope to be able to change these settings now that we are trying to get out of survival mode and rebuild the airline »

The pandemic has shaken the airline industry, already costing more than 50,000 US jobs Business travel, long the backbone of airline revenues, has all but ceased, and carriers have shifted their focus. efforts to woo price-sensitive leisure travelers seeking sun and outdoor destinations primarily in the US, where they can physically move away and avoid the travel restrictions that have left much of the world off limits

Getting it right is crucial Delta Air Lines released a $ 5 billion third quarter net loss last week as United loses $ 1.8 billion American Airlines and Southwest on Thursday reported $ 2.4 billion and $ 1.2 billion on Thursday. losses, respectively, for the quarter This was Southwest’s biggest quarterly loss on record The four carriers have slashed their daily cash consumption rate, but it’s unclear exactly when they’ll stop bleeding

United’s Gupta said the airline’s bookings have increased since coronavirus cases spiked in the summer and have recently stabilized despite a further rise in infections

« This is very different from what we saw in early July It’s a bit surprising, » he says

Sudden shifts in consumer confidence challenge airlines Customers book much closer to their flight time Gupta said customers would normally book domestic flights 90 to 120 days before departure and that now it’s half of that

In response to the uncertain nature of the virus and the resulting changes in consumer behavior, Gupta said routes were planned much closer to launch For example, the carrier before the pandemic would aim to advertise national and Caribbean routes about six months in advance, but like reservations, it’s about half that time.

A recovery in air travel is still a long way off As the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday examined more than one million people for the first time since March, volumes have averaged 835,573 per day this month, in 65% decrease from 24 million per day during the first 20 days of October 2019

« While it’s really important to cut costs, to get out of it we need more traffic, more revenue on board, so bringing these assets to new markets is the name of the game, « Andrew Watterson, Southwest chief commercial officer told an industry conference last week

The plane is « sitting on the ground differently, » said Brett Synder, former director of the airline who runs an airlift assistance company, Cranky Concierge, and writes the Cranky Flier blog « Now is a great time to try new things and maybe it’s short term and maybe you find something that works »

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Southwest Airlines, Savannah, Savannah International Airport / Hilton Head, Colorado Springs Airport

News from around the world – US – Airlines are experimenting with new routes in a « game of musical chairs ”to stem billions of dollars in pandemic losses


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