COVID19 Increases US Domestic Capacity


One of the beautiful things about aeroplanes is that they can broadly fly anywhere; not so beautiful is the fact that they cost a lot of money to have lying around doing nothing. The current Coronavirus event has grounded a huge number of aircraft around the world, setting new challenges for network planners trying to keep some utilisation going.

With car parks around the US full of Boeing 737max aircraft we’ve taken a quick look at where the US carriers are placing those aircrafts and how that could affect the market dynamics We’ve scanned the OAG database and identified the scheduled wide-bodied frequency of the US Big Three identifying significant changes in month on month flying between February and March purely on the carrier’s domestic networks; it’s interesting!

American Airlines Hub to Hub

Naturally enough for American and indeed the other two carriers redeploying the aircraft on domestic services is the easiest option, crew rostering and operational requirements can be solved quickly making life easier for everyone.

The table below shows the top ten airport pairs that are benefitting from increased wide-bodied services in March. It’s clear that American are working hard to deploy the additional capacity out of their major hubs with Dallas/Ft Worth and Los Angeles featuring in half of the top ten. Connecting “hub to hub” services are also a notable feature with DFW – ORD, LAX-MIA, and DFW -LAX all listed.

Table 1 – American Airlines Top 10 Wide-bodied Frequency Increases March’20 V’s February’20


Source: OAG Schedules Analyser

Delta Air Lines Chasing the Warmth

An alternate deployment strategy from Delta Air Lines sees them placing a large amount of additional frequency into traditional “snowbird” winter markets such as Las Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix. In the case of Las Vegas filling capacity has never been a problem for most, yield has, and this increased capacity may have some yield impact in the short-term.

Table 2 – Delta Air Lines Top 10 Wide-bodied Frequency Increases March’20 V’s February’20


Source: OAG Schedules Analyser

United Airlines Spoiling Chicago Passengers

For a regular Chicago traveller March is a great month to travel! An early morning Orlando service on a B777 is a distinct possibility with an additional 103 flights in March or indeed an extra 102 services to Los Angeles. In total United will be operating an additional 780 domestic wide-bodied services in March so the chances of grabbing a lie-flat seat for a three-hour flight have increased significantly for their premium travellers.

Table 3 – United Airlines Top 10 Wide-bodied Frequency Increases March’20 V’s February’20


Source: OAG Schedules Analyser

Such short-term fleet changes create great opportunities for the regular domestic road warrior suddenly faced with a deeper seat, more leg room and more space in which to catch up on business or catch up on some well-deserved sleep. However, enjoy the experience because as we said earlier, aircraft can fly anywhere and at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later those planes are heading back to Asia.