A look at US airlines' cutbacks

June 4, 2008 2:05:08 PM PDT
A look at recent cutbacks and prospects for more among the seven largest U.S. airlines: AMERICAN -- The nation's biggest airline announced last month it would cut domestic capacity 11 to 12 percent after the peak summer travel season, but already has begun trimming flights. American will end its short-lived service from New York to London's Stansted Airport and drop a daily nonstop flight from Chicago to Honolulu. The carrier also is pulling out of Oakland, Calif. It plans to retire 45 to 50 planes, most of them gas-guzzling MD-80s, and its American Eagle sister carrier will retire 30 to 35 jets.

UNITED -- Announced Wednesday it is removing an additional 70 planes from its 460-aircraft fleet beyond the 30 announced earlier this year, including its entire fleet of 94 single-aisle 737s. The carrier is cutting mainline domestic capacity 14 percent by year's end and another 11 percent in 2009, for a total reduction of 17 to 18 percent in 2008-09. Also scaling back international capacity 4 to 5 percent.

DELTA -- More domestic capacity cuts likely to be disclosed in the future on top of the 10 percent reduction announced in March, which was 5 percent more than previously planned. Delta also said in March that it plans to use some aircraft less and park 15-20 mainline aircraft and 20-25 regional jets. Still expanding international flying -- plans to increase international capacity by more than 15 percent this year.

CONTINENTAL -- Still expanding its international network but plans to cut U.S. capacity 5 percent this fall because of concern about record high fuel prices and a weakening economy. Plans to drop service at Chicago's Midway Airport.

NORTHWEST -- Plans to reduce domestic flying beginning in September by 5 percent more than previously planned, and has said further domestic capacity reductions are likely. However, in April it said its overall capacity would still rise 2 percent to 3 percent, although it also said that might come down because of fuel prices. Northwest has also accelerated the retirement of its old DC-9 aircraft, planning to operate 61 by the end of the year, down from 94 that it owned at the end of 2007. Northwest is also parking five to 10 Boeing 757s and Airbus A320s and A319s this year.

SOUTHWEST -- Unlike the rest of the big carriers, Southwest has been adding flights. Airline said Wednesday it had nothing to add to CEO Gary Kelly's comments last month that "I would love for Southwest to grow modestly next year and in 2010, but at this point we're not making any announcements."

US AIRWAYS -- Plans to trim capacity 2 to 4 percent in the second half and also will replace older aircraft, letting leases run out on 28 planes, including four Boeing 757s and 24 Boeing 737s. Those aircraft will be replaced with 14 Embraer 190s and five Airbus 321 aircraft. Morningstar analyst Brian Nelson says US Airways must make more cuts because of its financial position, which he says is "among the least attractive" of the big U.S. carriers.

- Headlines at a glance


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