Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Street
The Street
Daniel Kline

Delta Follows American, JetBlue Airlines In Making Unpopular Move

Airfares get priced based on demand. When there are fewer seats to sell, the price of the existing inventory goes higher.

That forces airlines to balance customer demand and their own capacity. That has to be measured against the flight schedules its rivals offer and the number of flight "slots" it has committed to fly from that airport. Airlines can change where their planes go, but they need to use their allotted slots unless they get an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

DON'T MISS: Southwest Airlines Passenger Shares a Big New Problem

Even when they can, airlines rarely reduce their flight schedule because if their rivals don't do the same thing, they're just sending passengers to other airlines and not meaningfully increasing their own demand. If all airlines make cuts, however, that's bad for consumers and raises prices for every available airline seat.

This summer, the FAA has a severe shortage of air-traffic controllers in New York and Washington. That has forced the agency to ask airlines flying out of the airports in those areas to voluntarily cut their flight schedules by 10%.

United Airlines (UAL), JetBlue JBLU, and American Airlines (AAL) have already cut their summer schedules into those cities. Now Delta Airlines has done the same, albeit to a lesser extent and Southwest Airlines (LUV) has been quiet, not sharing any cuts to its schedule.

Most major airlines are cutting their summer schedules in the northeast.

Image source: Shutterstock

Delta Joins United, JetBlue, and American In Making Cuts

Delta Airlines (DAL) only plans minimal cuts in flights leaving from New York in June and July but will cut 6.3% of its flights from New York's LaGuardia and JFK airports in August, according to The Points Guy. Flights to Boston's Logan Airport and Washington D.C.'s Ronald Reagan National Airport will be the hardest hit.

Some of the cuts will continue into September.

"These adjustments were made in domestic markets where our customers have plenty of options available so they can be easily re-accommodated," a Delta spokesperson told The Points Guy. "This decision reinforces our unwavering commitment to provide the best possible travel experience for our customers."

Delta's changes follow large cuts made by United, JetBlue, and American.

"As of April 3, American Airlines had removed 4,790 flights to or from JFK, LaGuardia and Reagan National, as well as Newark Liberty International Airport, from its May 1 to Sept. 30 schedule compared with what was filed on Feb. 3, 2023," according to data from Cirium.

United Airlines was close behind at 4,353 flights cut, while JetBlue so far had trimmed 3,565 flights. Delta had cut 1,983 so far, Travel Weekly reported.

Southwest Airlines May Not Need to Make Cuts

While the FAA opened the door for flight cuts, United, JetBlue, Delta, and American can use the relief. All of those airlines to varying extents, have been struggling with staffing issues.

Southwest Airlines has been very aggressive in building back its staff after significant losses due to retirement during the covid pandemic. In fact, the airline would have been aggressive in adding flights if it were not for Boeing (BA) having trouble delivering the airplanes the airline has ordered.

That's something Southwest Executive Vice President Bob Jordan spoke about during the airline's first-quarter earnings call.

"We are reducing our full-year 2023 growth plans due to a lower planning assumption for Boeing MAX deliveries this year. This relates to the recent news of further supply chain challenges at Boeing. The outcome is a reduction to our 2023 capacity and capex outlook, and we are currently reevaluating our hiring needs relative to our most recent expectation to hire more than 7,000 net new employees this year, he said.

The Boeing issues, however, will impact the company's plans later in the year, not during the summer, according to CFO Tammy Romo.

"As a reminder, we have a surplus of underutilized aircraft and our fleet due to pilot hiring constraints. Therefore, the reduction in our delivery should not impact our summer flight schedule. We continue to expect our second quarter capacity to be up 14% year over year," she added.  

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.