Issue No. 860

Summer Ahoy!

After First-Quarter Losses, U.S. Airlines Look Forward to a Record Summer

Pushing Back: Inside the Issue

It's easy to forget now, toward the end of April when mask mandates are falling and travel restrictions are easing worldwide, that the Omicron variant surged just a few months ago. The coronavirus variant was responsible for much of the red ink the U.S. industry spilled in the first three months of this year, making a historically weak quarter even worse. But that's in the past. What's ahead is summer.

And this summer, the largest U.S. carriers see almost untrammeled — or, yes, "pent-up" — demand, finally marking the "inflection point" CEOs have talked about throughout the pandemic. CEOs are hammering home that they believe Covid-19 has gone from a pandemic to an endemic, seasonal disease.

Epidemiologists may have different opinions, but the public seems so far to be backing up the the CEOs' claims. Forward bookings are strong even now, and are expected to get even stronger as summer approaches. In fact, United Airlines believes this summer could see record transatlantic travel as people rush to take vacations they put off for two years. Even the pilot shortage in the U.S. could redound to the airlines' benefit by forcing capacity cuts and increasing yields. (That's the silver lining of the pilot shortage. The rest of that picture is murkier, of course.)

We'll get a fuller picture of how the pilot shortage is affecting smaller U.S. carriers as they report their earnings in the next few weeks. Will the smaller airlines be as optimistic about summer? Stay tuned.

The Airline Weekly Lounge Podcast

Cape Air CEO Linda Markham warns that the U.S. industry’s every-airline-for-themselves approach to easing the pilot shortage may not be the best way to address supply. Edward “Ned” Russell and Madhu Unnikrishnan discuss her comments, and our favorite spokes-seagull. Then, Delta Air Lines was the industry’s bellwether on financials with the recovery turn it saw in March apparently set to carry other U.S. airlines back to the black. Listen to the episode, and go here for an archive of the 'Lounge.

Weekly Skies

There are two main issues limiting American Airlines schedule this summer: staffing and fleet. The mainline carrier will fly several points less capacity than it would like due to these concerns despite robust demand that executives say will flip it…

Routes and Networks

Breeze Airways is making something of a power move to enter the New York market. The David Neeleman-led startup will launch the only transcontinental flights from Westchester Airport that, located north of New York City, serves some of the area's…

State of the Unions

Cape Air CEO Linda Markham is worried that airlines are doing the industry a disservice in pursuing individual approaches to boosting pilot supply as the industry works to ease the shortage in the U.S.

Landing Strip

The days of trains passing one block from the end of the runway at San Diego International Airport may be nearing an end. The airport, along with the local transportation planning organization the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the…