Summer schedule changes/equipment swaps

Old Feb 23, 10, 9:03 am
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Summer schedule changes/equipment swaps

All of the new route announcements coming out of MKE and DEN recently mean there are a number of schedule changes/equipment swaps that need to occur to cover all of the scheduled flying.

Poking around various booking sites the last couple of days has revealed some interesting changes*:


1) MKE-LGA: Frequency reduction from 5 to 4 flights. One flight is up-gauged to an A319. Midwest and AirTran will both offer the same frequency on this route during the summer months. Frankly, I’m very surprised to see this pull-back in one of Midwest’s core markets.
2) MKE-BOS: Increasing to five flights for the summer peak (a normal increase). The number of seats will increase with a mix of 1 A319, 2 E190s, and 2 E170s.
3) MKE-DEN: Increasing to six daily flights with a mix of 3 319s, 2 E90s and one E170.
4) MKE-ATL: Down-gauged from 3 E170s to 1 E170 and 2 ER145s.
5) MKE-LAX: The second daily flight is postponed again until June.
6) MKE-LAS: Reduced to 1 daily afternoon A319 flight.
7) MKE-PHX: Still one daily flight, but re-timed for an early morning departure.
8) MKE-MCO: Only one daily A319 flight for summer peak.
9) MKE-MCI: Frequency unchanged. One E170 flight up-gauged to an E190.
10) MKE-OMA: One of the E170s has been down-gauged.
11) MKE-PIT: 4 ER135s No E145s anymore.
12) MKE-CLE: Flights up-gauged to E145s.
13) MKE-STL: Frequency reduction from 3 to 2 flights. First, the start date is pushed back. Now, before the route even begins frequency is being cut.

All other routes appear to be unaffected. MKE-FLL/RSW, MCI-RSW, and OMA-MCO/TPA all appear to end in April as previously announced.

*The big caveat with the changes listed above is that the schedules may still be in flux so more tweaking may still be done. However, we’re getting to the point where the schedules need to start getting firmed-up for summer bookings.

I must say that as things currently stand I’m less than impressed with what’s happening with Midwest’s MKE flight schedules this summer.
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Old Feb 23, 10, 9:31 am
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Didn't really bother to figure it out, how many A319's will this put in the Midwest system now? Are they actually doing them any good? I would be interested in knowing how the shuffling around of A319's and E90's have affected revenues on both sides of the swap.
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Old Feb 23, 10, 10:18 am
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Interesting how (except for MKE-BOS and MKE-DEN), all of the routes that are seeing either reduced capacity or frequency have FL competition.

MKE-CLE is seeing increased service and does not have FL competition (unless you count MKE-CAK).

I'm trying to find the strategy behind these moves. Perhaps they'll be able to maintain a revenue premium and not flood markets with seats. Let AirTran take all the junk fares and connecting traffic.

Am I off base?
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Old Feb 23, 10, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by newsmanhoss View Post
I'm trying to find the strategy behind these moves. Perhaps they'll be able to maintain a revenue premium and not flood markets with seats. Let AirTran take all the junk fares and connecting traffic.

Am I off base?
It sure looks like that might be the overall strategy based on what's been scheduled so far.

While there is obviously a lot in transition at the moment, some of these changes appear to reflect general sloppiness on the part of the route planners. How many times have they changed the MKE-LAX/STL flight schedules now? I'm starting to lose track.

Some of these changes were just recently loaded…I wonder how long the waits are at the call center these days
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Old Feb 23, 10, 11:17 am
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Some of the downgrades on West coast flying can probably be chalked up to customers being okay being routed through DEN or MCI. Most of the recent announcements on the DEN side of things have been new routes and more frequencies so perhaps the idea is to make sure MKE can support the current routes profitably before they add any more capacity and open themselves up to a larger potential loss. They probably have a much better idea of what DEN can support since Frontier service has been much more consistent the past few years (compared to Midwest) and if the numbers look like they can support more service they will upgauge.
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Old Feb 23, 10, 8:20 pm
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I saw these changes trickling in over the past two days and hadn’t gotten around to reporting or commenting on them yet. I suspect more changes are coming, but perhaps not until later into spring. What I think these changes primarily represent is covering the schedule with fewer aircraft.
Comments on a few particular markets:

LGA
Republic is using the slots used for Milwaukee’s 5th round trip to cover Denver’s 3rd round trip. By increasing aircraft size in spite of one fewer trip, Midwest’s weekday LGA capacity will increase 7.3% from where it is today, but be 8.0% lower than last year. Not a large swing either way, but a decrease.

STL:
I’m told the main purpose of the RJ in St Louis overnight was for maintenance but that is no longer necessary. I still think they need another mid-day RJ in the market. The local market is large enough for a 3rd flight.

MCO/LAS/PHX
Last year PHX and LAS ran 2x/day with the 717. MCO was 1/x day with a 2nd trip flying from 6/4 through Labor Day.
The E190 is not the ideal aircraft to send on these routes for two reasons. First, they are a limited commodity and are better used in other markets. Second, the economics of the Airbus are closer to competitor 737-700’s they fly against. So they have two options with the A319:
1x/day is 136 seats….31% fewer seats than last summer
2x/day is 272 seats….37% more seats than last summer
Given the entrance of Southwest into these city pairs, increasing capacity by 37% would be questionable. A couple of years ago before Midwest gave market share away they certainly could have flown 2x A319’s here, but the market has changed. 1x/day keeps them in these markets with a good amount of capacity, but not an excessive amount.

ATL/PHL/EWR/MSN
The move of E170’s to replace Q400’s in Denver is putting pressure on these routes which could support more capacity than what they are planned to see this spring. The move to put two RJ’s into ATL (along with one E170) is something of a surprise, but fare pressure in ATL is not as bad as it once was. Frankly, that’s AirTran’s doing – they apparently view ATL as a mature market from Milwaukee and don’t frequently price cut there nearly as much as some other markets.

LAX
The shortage of aircraft means that the LAX red-eye moves from a 7:30pm to a less-desirable 10:00pm departure. While a 7:30pm flight is a decent departure time, a 10:00pm red-eye really only works at peak times. Until and unless they move that to a better time, it probably doesn’t pay to fly it until summer vacations start and on peak days.

-----------------

What I suspect is happening is that their near-term fleet plans are a moving target, and every change results in modifications to the schedule. Beyond the scheduled deliveries they have spoken of, there are continued rumors of them dealing for more aircraft of various sizes, from RJ up to A321. But any hitch…either with scheduled deliveries or with acquiring additional e-jet or Airbus planes… means a smaller and/or different set of aircraft to cover their planned service, and thus the schedule changes.
I’m not a fan of the April/May schedule changes as they appear, and I wonder if they based some of their earlier expansion announcements on aircraft deliveries which will be delayed. Just one or two additional aircraft at MKE will make a big difference. The mid-June schedule, as it currently appears, doesn’t “work out” in terms of aircraft flow, so more changes are coming. I’m hearing three additional city pairs are planned for the YX system in the May/June timeframe, but it seems likely that would take another plane or so.

The changeability in the schedule these days does not do them any favors, and the sooner the dust settles the better.
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Old Feb 23, 10, 8:58 pm
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Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
LGA
Republic is using the slots used for Milwaukee’s 5th round trip to cover Denver’s 3rd round trip. By increasing aircraft size in spite of one fewer trip, Midwest’s weekday LGA capacity will increase 7.3% from where it is today, but be 8.0% lower than last year. Not a large swing either way, but a decrease.
The situation with LGA is rather curious. Well before Republic came into the picture, Frontier routinely flew DEN-LGA 3x daily during the peak summer months. In addition, Midwest's reductions on MCI-LGA (from five flights to three flights) should have made enough slots available to cover all of this flying. What happened to all of those slots?

LGA is a business market. If anything, that route should be 5x daily E190s due to the availability of Signature Seating (I'm told a real effort is being made to keep the ex U.S. Airways E190s in MKE due to the first class cabin...very similar to the old Signature Seats).

As it relaters to the schedules, MKE-SFO now becomes a red-eye starting in April.

Also, the sixth MKE-DEN frequency has been pushed back to June. It was announced just last week that it would start in May.
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Old Feb 23, 10, 9:04 pm
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Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
ATL/PHL/EWR/MSN
The move of E170’s to replace Q400’s in Denver is putting pressure on these routes which could support more capacity than what they are planned to see this spring. The move to put two RJ’s into ATL (along with one E170) is something of a surprise, but fare pressure in ATL is not as bad as it once was. Frankly, that’s AirTran’s doing – they apparently view ATL as a mature market from Milwaukee and don’t frequently price cut there nearly as much as some other markets.
You're right on regarding MKE-ATL pricing. I'm flying that route next week, and AirTran's fares to ATL have been considerably higher than the west coast runs, despite the major difference in distance. (Not that airlines price fares based strictly on distance of course).

Roundtrip fares to ATL frequently are in the $250-300 range, while west coast runs are as low as $94 each way from MKE.
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Old Feb 23, 10, 10:50 pm
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I have 3 confirmed reservations MKE-MCO, MKE-LAS, MKE-SAN for April and May. They all changed! Wait time is "over one hour" on the 800 number. Especially bad because I'm traveling with other friends and family to LAS and SAN and I was in charge of booking the flights! It's really going to be a hassle re-coordinating everyone's schedules.
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Old Feb 24, 10, 7:51 am
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Originally Posted by Wisconsin View Post
They all changed! Wait time is "over one hour" on the 800 number.
Completely unacceptable. We keep hearing things are going to improve. I have seen no improvement since the 2008 cutbacks.
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Old Feb 24, 10, 8:43 am
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Originally Posted by RSVP View Post
Completely unacceptable. We keep hearing things are going to improve. I have seen no improvement since the 2008 cutbacks.
This really depends on what you believe is improvement:
- Have routes been reintroduced from MKE and new one's completely introduced in DEN? --- Yes, I believe that is an improvement over the product that was seen in 2008.
- Is the company more stable (financially)? --- I think this is a no doubt and that is definite improvement for both passengers and employees
- Has the cross pollination of the Frontier fleet into Midwest routes been good for Midwest? --- I think so, it has allowed Midwest to operate more efficient aircraft on certain routes and introduce their customers to amenities not seen on a Midwest plane before...The question here is whether Republic has damaged Frontier by introducing E190's and E170's into Frontier's route structure that do not have these amenities.

I am sure there is more to talk about and there are things that have not improved, but to make the statement that nothing has improved is not necessarily correct either.
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Old Feb 24, 10, 10:21 am
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They have restored or added 10 nonstop destinations (CWA would make 11) since the depths of September 2008, and I'm hearing there are a few more to come. That's improvement.

Last edited by knope2001; Feb 24, 10 at 10:44 am
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Old Feb 24, 10, 10:43 am
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The new schedule has nearly all of the 20 minutes connections removed, and the number of 25-minute connections is reduced significantly. The vast majority of connections are scheduled at 30 minutes or more.

This should help reduce the number of hold / no hold situations.
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Old Feb 24, 10, 11:40 am
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Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
The new schedule has nearly all of the 20 minutes connections removed, and the number of 25-minute connections is reduced significantly. The vast majority of connections are scheduled at 30 minutes or more.

This should help reduce the number of hold / no hold situations.
Knope, do you work for Midwest or Republic?
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Old Feb 24, 10, 11:47 am
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Originally Posted by Pigeye01 View Post
Knope, do you work for Midwest or Republic?
Neither...not in the industry at all. I do travel quite a bit for work, however, and have been Midwest Miles Executive level for years.
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