United Airlines will curtail some Hawaii flights temporarily in yet another example of an industry in turmoil. This came just one day after Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines were stung with a manufacturer’s recall to inspect some 1,200 jet engines they use on many Hawaii flights.
At the same time, American Airlines is looking at how to better manage future flight delays and cancellations while Southwest said in their earnings call that we can expect more changes ahead. Who said flying to and from Hawaii was going to be easy?
First, United said today that it must prune back some flights this summer. The reduction in flights includes their nonstop flight between Honolulu (HNL) and New York City (EWR). The carrier hopes to resume service on that route after September 4.
A comment earlier today from regular John said, “So many details, it seems (jet engines removal & repairs, not just mere engine “inspections”); these repairs done on the mainland (?) vs. Honolulu (?); time frames for complete resolution (?); safety of air travel on not-yet-fixed planes (?). It would be nice to be able to plan ahead. I am personally avoiding at all costs, the specific airlines that are affected.
To which we replied, “We will know more in a few days about this particular problem. As for avoiding airlines, it does seem that the entire industry is more prone than ever to unexpected things happening that can result in delays or cancellations.”
Plus a shortage of air traffic controllers.
A lack of air traffic controllers means that United will be reducing peak summer flying, as has been agreed to by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA approved waivers to allow a reduction in flights at congested airports that are suffering from shortages of air traffic controllers.
Earlier this month, the acting head of the FAA, Secretary Polly Trottenberg, met with United CEO Scott Kirby. This came after outspoken criticism of the FAA by United Airlines, specifically related to air traffic control performance.
United Airlines said that “the FAA has frankly failed us.”
Last month, in an email to United Employees, CEO Scott Kirby said that more than 150,000 United customers had been impacted due to “FAA staffing issues and their ability to manage traffic.”
After United and the FAA met, Kirby uttered more conciliatory words, saying that the agency had recently become “particularly helpful, responsive, and communicative.”
Flight cancellations and delays that won’t settle down.
Yesterday, for example, it was reported that there were nearly 8k flight delays nationally and 1,300 cancellations. Hawaii did somewhat better yesterday, with a relatively small 143 delayed flights.
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines address industry-wide issues.
Southwest announced on its earnings call that it will need to revamp its 2024 flight schedule “To reflect post-pandemic changes to customer travel patterns [and] align our network, fleet plans, and staffing to reflect the current business environment better.”
So what does that mean? It means we can expect more shakeups in Southwest’s plans as well as that of all the other airlines, without exception.
Meanwhile, American Airlines has just implemented new software (their “Hub Efficiency Analytics tool”) in order to become more efficient in analyzing aircraft, crew, and gates needed. Their system can advise American on which flights to cancel and those to delay so as to reduce the overall impact on the airline’s global operations. American says the new software has already significantly reduced delays and cancellations.
Worse than expected financial performance at Alaska Airlines.
And lastly, at Hawaii-centric Alaska Airlines, their financials, released earlier this week, indicated total revenue in the 3rd quarter of zero to 3%, far less than the nearly 7% increase produced in Q2. On that notice, U.S. airline stocks declined due to the lower than anticipated performance and an apparent decline in airfares. We’ll have more to say on that and how it relates to Hawaii vacations soon.