North America market update

Routes’ latest North America market round-up, featuring new route launches, capacity changes and news from across the region.

Welcome to Routes’ look at how the North America aviation market is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The data is supplied by OAG using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool unless stated. Please note: the COVID-19 crisis remains fluid as airlines around the world continue to make dramatic capacity cuts. OAG has taken several steps to ensure the data is as accurate as possible. 

Capacity across North America has increased for a second consecutive week. The number of departure seats totaled 5.57 million last week (w/c May 25), a modest rise of 1.4% compared with the previous seven days. However, the market remains 77% smaller than the same week a year ago. The US accounted for 5.35 million seats last week, while there were 214,910 departure seats in Canada. 

The upward trend appears set to continue over the coming weeks as airlines gradually begin to restore routes and frequencies. The latest schedules data shows that capacity from and within North America during June 2020 is expected to be about 3.28 million departure seats, a rise of 32% compared with May.

Southwest Airlines remains the largest carrier in North America by capacity, offering 1.55 million seats last week. This is equivalent to 39% of its weekly capacity a year ago. American Airlines is second with 1.3 million seats and Delta Air Lines is third with 825,000. The OAG data shows that the number of seats offered by Air Canada and Spirit Airlines remains in excess of 90% lower than this time in 2019.

Denver-based Frontier Airlines plans to launch 18 new routes over the coming weeks, adding flights from Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD) and Newark (EWR) among others. Senior VP of commercial Daniel Shurz said the network additions were in response to a “strong uptick” in summer travel demand.

“We anticipate these new routes to a variety of popular vacation destinations will be in high demand as family and friends seek affordable domestic summer travel options,” he added. 

American Airlines’ CEO Doug Parker does not believe the airline will need bankruptcy protection to survive the current downturn. “I don't think people should view bankruptcy as a financial tool. I think it's failure [and] we're not going to do that,” he said during a Sanford Bernstein investor event.

Parker said that US carriers are facing a “demand crisis” caused by the coronavirus pandemic but added that “there's no one trying to push anybody else out of business.”

"I think we're all going to be fine,” he said. "I think we're all going to go raise enough liquidity to get ourselves through this wall.”

However, the oneworld alliance member will cut 30% of its management and support staff, or about 5,000 positions, in anticipation of “running a much smaller airline” for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, a bankruptcy court has given Ravn Air Group the go-ahead to move forward with a proposed bidding process for the airline to sell “all, substantially all, or a substantial part of its assets.” 

RavnAir Alaska was a regional carrier that before the COVID-19 crisis had provided connectivity throughout the state of Alaska prior to shutting down in April.

“This court decision helps clear the path for Ravn to find new ownership that will allow us to resume operations later this summer,” president and CEO Dave Pflieger said.

“This is great news for our creditors, our employees who have been temporarily laid off, our customers, our important fishing industry, and the 115 rural and urban communities we serve throughout the state who are currently suffering from a lack of service since we parked our 72 aircraft.” 

Latest updates from Airlineroute:

Air Canada removes planned A220 Toronto – Vancouver service in June 2020

Alaska Airlines files Temporary domestic routes cancellation in S20 11:20

WestJet delays Calgary – Dawson Creek launch to Sep 2020 11:00

Delta NS20 Intercontinental operations as of 24MAY20 

Air Canada concludes Embraer E190 scheduled operation 31MAY20

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week