May 27th and 28th were big days in the United States. While Breeze Airways took much of the thunder, the unofficial start of the summer season was on full display. Airlines inaugurated hundreds of new routes and connected new passengers. Here are just some of the highlights from the last week.
Breeze Airways launched
The week’s highlight was Breeze Airways, which made its maiden flight on Thursday, May 27th. The newest airline in the United States, Breeze Airways, connected Tampa with Charleston. Many new routes are on the airline’s horizon.
After that inaugural, the airline inaugurated flights from Charleston to Hartford, Connecticut, and Louisville, Kentucky, on May 28th. Tampa and Louisville also received a new connection on May 28th. In the next two weeks, Breeze Airways will start flying out of Norfolk, Virginia.
Southwest Airlines came to two leisure-oriented cities
Southwest Airlines came into two new cities in a major way. Service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, started on May 23rd. The first services were to Nashville, Baltimore, and Chicago. On Saturday, May 29th, service to Dallas and Pittsburgh from Myrtle Beach started. Then, on June 6th, new flights to Atlanta, Columbus, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and St. Louis will start from Myrtle Beach.
Meanwhile, over at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Southwest inaugurated flights to several destinations, including Las Vegas. Bozeman will also see connections to Chicago, Dallas, and Phoenix this summer.
We touched down in Montana for the first time today with our inaugural service to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport! Thanks to @MontanaState for the warm welcome. Are you ready for Big Sky country? BOOK: https://t.co/rmWIObrbaQ. https://t.co/SazEzCx5Kc pic.twitter.com/9ejJrvyanN
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) May 27, 2021
United added point-to-point services
United Airlines began point-to-point services on May 28th. The airline brought new coastal services from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis. The airline connected these cities to places like Charleston, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Pensacola, Savannah, and Portland (Maine).
These services are on a mix of regional jets. One of the more popular jets United is using on these services are the CRJ550s, which are premium 50-seater jets in United’s regional fleet. These flights augment United’s point-to-point strategy it started to fly last year.
Delta turned to a diverse array of routes
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines turned its eyes to the international network. Delta resumed nonstop service between New York-JFK and Athens. Over to Iceland, Delta Air Lines resumed nonstop service between Minneapolis and Reykjavik, Iceland.
— Athens Airport (@ATH_airport) May 29, 2021
Weekend service from Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York-JFK launched to Anchorage, Alaska. From the Seattle hub, Delta returned nonstop seasonal summer service to Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka. Also, out of Seattle, Delta launched flights to Bozeman.
Delta expanded leisure domestic flying to destinations like Bozeman, Glacier Park, Missoula, Jackson Hole, Fresno, and Rapid City between Friday and Saturday. This was part of Delta’s massive domestic schedule boost for summer.
The ultra-low-cost carriers grow as well
On May 27th, Spirit Airlines also inaugurated services to two new cities. The airline added St. Louis and Louisville to its route network. At the same time, the airline also announced route expansions out of both cities.
Allegiant Air started new routes, growing out of Boston, Austin, and Bozeman, Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Diego, Portland (Oregon), and more.
Frontier Airlines also furthered its Miami operations. The airline launched a new route from Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
It may seem strange that a random Thursday and Friday saw the greatest number of new routes launch in one day compared to most other days in the calendar, but airlines deliberately scheduled these flights.
Monday, May 31st, is Memorial Day. With schools out and warm weather spreading across the country, Americans showed interest in taking to the sky. With vaccinations continuing to roll out and restrictions starting to come down, US airlines launched new nonstop services to various new cities.
Load factors are going up, and airlines are starting to boost their fares. Airlines from United to American to Delta to Spirit have benefited from passengers showing greater willingness to take a flight and go on a vacation.
Many of the new routes that launched in the last few days are seasonal summer routes. As a result, airlines are bringing their planes back out of the desert and putting them back into service.
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This summer is going to be a big one for airlines. After a far-reduced and difficult 2020, airlines are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Memorial Day holiday weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season in the United States. The recovery should accelerate in the coming months as more schools close for summer vacations and families can return to major tourist destinations. As a result, some airlines have delayed the launch of some services into June and July.
Other airlines, such as American and Alaska, launched a host of new routes – international and domestic – in the weeks leading up to the Memorial Day weekend. These carriers also have new routes slated to start from June onwards.
What will happen with fares?
There will be some deals to be had. Airlines are still having to do some demand stimulation with lower prices. However, around the weekends and holidays, expect higher fares. If you are looking for some reduced fares, shop around for flexibility.
There is certainly overcapacity in some markets, such as Bozeman, for example. As a result, loads are generally a little lower to those highly competitive destinations. The problem for many passengers will be bottlenecks on connections. While a flight from, say, Denver to Bozeman might be going out with a lower load, a connecting flight from Austin to Denver may lead to the overall itinerary to price out higher given higher loads on the Austin to Denver flight.
Beyond fares, airlines will also have to contend with shortages in rental cars and, in some localities, reduced availability of lodging.
Some options for deals could be abroad. International travel demand is still lower than it was in 2019, even though destinations are opening up. If you are priced out of domestic trips, it may not hurt to turn your attention abroad – especially if you have been vaccinated.
Are you planning a summer trip? What new routes are you most excited about for the summer? Let us know in the comments!