Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shrinking Airlines; Buh-Bye Butte

From this afternoon's news. And we'll be seeing a lot more of this in coming months:

---American Airlines announced the first round of reductions to its schedule as part of its plan to reduce capacity.

The highlights:

-- Discontinuing Chicago-Buenos Aires effective Sept. 3.

-- Discontinuing Chicago-Honolulu Jan. 5, 2009. (Between
September 3, 2008, and Jan. 5, 2009, American will operate
Chicago - Honolulu service only on peak demand days.)

-- Discontinuing Boston-San Diego effective Sept. 3.

-- Restructuring American and American Eagle operations at San Juan beginning in September. This round of reductions will affect American and American Eagle flights originating from San Juan to the United States and various islands in the Caribbean.

American said last week it planned to cut domestic capacity in the fourth quarter (compared with the 2007 fourth quarter) by 11 percent to 12 percent mainline and 10 percent to 11 percent regional. The airline plans to sideline 40-45 mainline jets (mostly MD-80s and some Airbus A300s) and 35-40 regional jets. American said today it will retire its fleet of 26 Saab 3240B 34-seat turboprops by the end of the year.


And don't look for JetBlue to be filling in gaps any time soon ...

---JetBlue announced today that it plans to defer 21 Airbus A320 aircraft originally scheduled for delivery between 2009 through 2011 to 2014 through 2015 in what Dave Barger, the CEO,
described as a plan to “help us further moderate our growth rate in 2009 and beyond.”


Meanwhile, Horizon Air also is shrinking …

---Horizon marketing director Dan Russo said today that with fuel prices soaring “it’s never been more important to ensure every single Horizon flight is as productive as possible.” Horizon is phasing out its 37-seat Q200s and its 70-seat CRJ-700 jets in favor of a single fleet of more fuel-efficient 76-seat Q400 high-speed turboprops.

Horizon said these routes are being discontinued:

* Butte-Seattle: Horizon is discontinuing all service to Butte, where the airline currently offers two daily flights to Seattle. "It's with great regret that we leave Butte, where we've been part of the community since 1989," said Jeff Pinneo, Horizon’s president and CEO. After Horizon’s last flight from Butte on Aug. 24, the nearest Horizon nonstop service to Seattle will be via Helena (68 miles from Butte) or Bozeman (76 miles from Butte).

* Billings-Portland: Horizon is discontinuing its once-daily nonstop service between Billings and Portland. Service to Portland will be available via connections from Horizon’s current twice-daily Billings-Seattle nonstop service or on a new third flight between Billings and Seattle that will make an intermediate stop in Helena. All Billings flights will be operated with Q400s.

Routes where frequency is being reduced

* Portland-Seattle: Horizon is trimming five flights each way from its current weekday schedule of 31 flights each way between Seattle and Portland. Flights will continue to operate every half-hour during the higher-demand morning and afternoon commute periods, with one-hour intervals between flights during some periods spanning the middle of the day. Sixteen of the 26 flights each way will be operated with Q400s or CRJ-700s.

* Pasco-Seattle: The current seven daily flights (five Q400 and two Q200) are being reduced to six (all Q400). The net result will be the same number of seats in the market.

* Kelowna-Seattle: The current four daily flights (three Q200 and one Q400) are being reduced to three (all Q400). This will result in a 20 percent increase in seats in the market.

* Idaho Falls-Boise: The current two daily Q400 flights are being reduced to one starting Oct. 12. The early morning flight from Idaho Falls and evening return will make connections in Boise to Horizon flights to Los Angeles, Portland, Sacramento, San Jose and Seattle. From Aug. 25 and continuing through Oct. 11, Horizon’s only service to Idaho Falls will consist of four daily Q200 flights to Boise, covering a period when the longer of the airport’s two runways will be closed for repairs. Horizon will be the only carrier serving Idaho Falls between Sept. 2 and Oct. 1.

* Lewiston-Boise: The current two daily Q400 flights are being reduced to one. The remaining flight will originate and terminate in Pullman.

* Medford-Portland: The current five daily flights (two Q400 and three Q200) are being reduced to four (two Q400 and two Q200).

* Redmond/Bend-Portland: The current five daily flights (four Q200 and one Q400) are being reduced to four (three Q200 and one Q400).

* Redmond/Bend-Seattle: The current four daily Q400 flights are being reduced to three.


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