Tag Archives: ATL

ExpressJet expands its relationship with United and American, drops Delta

Delta Connection-ExpressJet Airlines Bombardier CRJ900 (CL-600-2D24) N307PQ (msn 15307) ATL (Jay Selman). Image: 403371.

ExpressJet Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc. has announced the initiation of a clearly defined long-term strategy:

  •  Long-term agreement secured with United Airlines. As part of this plan, ExpressJet has secured a new, five-year extension of its United Airlines ERJ 145 contract, effective January 1, 2018 through Dec. 31, 2022. The new agreement enhances ExpressJet’s United partnership and provides long-term stability to its model. It also provides ExpressJet pilots with continued access to United’s Career Pathway Program. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
  •  Early termination of Delta CPA. Additionally, ExpressJet and Delta Air Lines mutually agreed to initiate the wind-down of its remaining dual-class flying agreement under the Delta Connection brand, allowing ExpressJet opportunities to place aircraft with other partners. The agreement, which includes 28 CRJ900s and 33 CRJ700s, was previously scheduled to expire beginning in 2019. The aircraft financed by Delta, including all CRJ900s, will be returned to Delta beginning in fourth quarter 2017; ExpressJet expects to transition other aircraft previously operated under its Delta agreement to other major partners throughout 2018.
  •  Agreement with American for eight additional CRJ700s. As part of this realignment, ExpressJet has secured an agreement with American Airlines to transition eight additional CRJ700s to its American Eagle operation. That transition is expected to take place during second quarter 2018.

Copyright Photo: Delta Connection-ExpressJet Airlines Bombardier CRJ900 (CL-600-2D24) N307PQ (msn 15307) ATL (Jay Selman). Image: 403371.

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SkyWest’s ExpressJet to retire its CRJ200 fleet over the next year

ExpressJet to retire its CRJ200 fleet in late 2017

SkyWest, Inc. has announced additional fleet transitions and contract updates designed to reduce SkyWest’s long-term fleet risk and enhance its ability to respond to changing partner needs.

Specifically, SkyWest’s ExpressJet operation expects to transition to flying primarily dual-class aircraft in its CRJ operation by removing its Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft from service over the next year.

The removal of the CRJ200 aircraft reduces ExpressJet’s future required investment in its 50-seat fleet and is expected to improve the airline’s operating efficiency by eliminating an aircraft type from its platform.

SkyWest also announced ExpressJet and American Airlines have agreed to place 12 dual-class CRJ700s into service under a multi-year term. These CRJ700s had been scheduled to be removed from service under a previously-disclosed early lease return arrangement.

Additionally, SkyWest and Bombardier entered into a termination agreement covering Bombardier’s residual value guarantee (“RVG”) agreements on 76 CRJ200 aircraft owned by SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet. Bombardier agreed to pay SkyWest $90 million by January 2017 along with certain other consideration in exchange for the release. Both the required sale of each aircraft and the cost to SkyWest of returning the aircraft to mid-time condition were points of risk and uncertainty for SkyWest that this termination agreement eliminates.

As a result of the expectation to remove ExpressJet CRJ200s from service and the Bombardier RVG termination agreement, SkyWest is evaluating its total 50-seat CRJ200 fleet and related long-lived assets for impairment in Q4 2016. SkyWest currently anticipates it will record a non-cash impairment charge in Q4 2016 estimated to be in the range of $440 million to $490 million (pre-tax) on its CRJ200 aircraft and other 50-seat aircraft assets, net of the $90 million in cash proceeds from the Bombardier termination agreement.

Copyright Photo: Delta Connection-ExpressJet Airlines Bombardier CRJ200 (CL-600-2B19) N923EV (msn 7826) ATL (Jay Selman). Image: 403333.

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Frontier Airlines to announce additional nonstop routes from Atlanta

Frontier Airlines (2nd) (Denver) is expected today to announce six additional destinations from Atlanta according to a report by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. A press conference has been scheduled for today in Atlanta. Frontier aims to be the third largest carrier in ATL by this summer behind Delta and Southwest. With the loss of AirTran Airways there is a void in the large hub for an ultra low fare carrier service. Spirit Airlines is also building up its presence in ATL.

As we previously reported, on March 6 Frontier added new service from ATL to Austin, Indianapolis and Miami.

Today (April 30), as planned, the airline is adding new routes from Atlanta to Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans and New York (LaGuardia).

More details will follow.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Also read Assistant Editor Aaron Newman’s Planely Speaking: The Battle for the Big Peach: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: James Helbock/AirlinersGallery.com. Ex-USA 3000 Airlines Airbus A320-214 N263AV (msn 1860) with Jack, the Rabbit, on the tail arrives in Las Vegas. The airliner has now become N219FR.

Frontier Jack, the Rabbit

Frontier Airlines aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Video: New Frontier Slimline Seats:

The expanding Frontier Airlines route map. Frontier is now flying more in the East rather than the traditional West making its name somewhat obsolete as it downsizes its fading Denver hub.

Frontier (2nd) 2015 logo

Frontier 4.2015 Route Map

Planely Speaking: The Battle for the Big Peach

Assistant Editor Aaron Newman

Assistant Editor Aaron Newman

Assistant Editor Aaron Newman

The Battle for the Big Peach

By Aaron Newman.

The world’s busiest airport will become the latest low-cost battleground this spring and summer as Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines deem Atlanta as their newest expansion target. By September 2015, Spirit will provide service to 15 cities from Atlanta; while Frontier will expand to 16 cities by the end of this month. With competition from Southwest and of course the hometown favorite, Delta Airlines; does Spirit and Frontier stand a chance at success in the big peach?

Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines routes from Atlanta

Frontier-Spirit ATL Graph

In the case of Frontier, Delta serves all of the above markets, and Southwest will compete on seven of the markets. In the case of Spirit, Delta operates service to all of the above markets except Atlantic City; while Southwest again competes on seven of the above routes.

It’s likely this aggressive growth stems from the purchase of AirTran Airways by Southwest; AirTran’s disappearance from ATL left a void for a true low-cost carrier in Atlanta. Frontier and Spirit perceive Atlanta as an opportunity to use their low-cost model to attract cost conscious north Georgia residents to travel where they otherwise wouldn’t.

Data from the US Department of Transportation demonstrates that during the 3rd quarter of 2014, Atlanta’s average domestic fare was $439, while, the average US domestic fare was $397–Spirit and Frontier advertise fares starting as low as $19 one-way.

Spirit ATL Map

Source: Spirit Airlines.

In a contrast to Cleveland, another market where Frontier and Spirit are doing battle in 2015, Atlanta is not an airport where any major airline has made a substantial cutback. Southwest has made some minor changes to its route network post-merger, but nothing like the 60% capacity reduction seen by United Airlines at Cleveland. Frontier and Spirit are aware that they are in for a battle before one airline eventually wins out. Can both of these airlines survive the threat from each other, as well as the size of Delta and the loyal followings of Southwest’s customers?

Frontier ATL Fares

Source: Frontier Airlines.

Who wins out?

Above Copyright Photo: Tony Storck/AirlinersGallery.com. Spirit Airlines Airbus A319-132 N503NK (msn 2470) prepares to land at its Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) base.

Spirit has been growing quickly and their experience as an established ULCC (ultra-low cost carrier) gives them the upper hand in this turf war with Frontier. Spirit has a slightly lower CASM (cost per available seat mile) than Frontier (marketrealist.com), giving them the ability to offer lower fares while still maintaining profitability. The newly announced routes come at a time in which Spirit is preparing for a wave of aircraft deliveries (15 aircraft in 2015) that will push its fleet to 80 aircraft by the end of 2015–an added incentive to make Atlanta work for their bottom line. Spirit had long considered an Atlanta expansion, calculating that the Southwest Airlines acquisition of AirTran Airways would increase fares. What Spirit may not have expected, however, was that Frontier Airlines would try the same approach at the same time.

Copyright Photo Above: Ken Petersen/AirlinersGallery.com. Frontier Airlines’ Airbus A320-214 N227FR (msn 6184) is pictured at Raleigh/Durham.

Frontier’s route network is accustomed to change and though I believe one ULCC can gain market share in Atlanta, I predict Frontier will eventually leave or drastically reduce service in Atlanta due to disappointing bookings and slim margins caused by over-capacity. Ultimately, consumers will make the decision, regarding which ULCC they prefer, specifically on routes in which the two carriers overlap, such as Atlanta to Chicago (O’Hare) and Las Vegas. But, as mentioned, Spirit is believed to retain a slight cost advantage over Frontier, ultimately giving them the upper hand.

Surviving the big guys

In a recent presentation to investors, Spirit Airlines estimated Delta has an adjusted cost per available seat mile (CASM) 59% higher than Spirit (Atlanta Journal Constitution). Even though Delta has created a new low-fare class with limited perks in an attempt to compete with ULCC’s, Spirit predicts legacy carriers will eventually narrow their focus to high-yield passengers on over-lapping routes. This allows Spirit to concentrate their efforts on their favorite audience—the leisure traveler. Additionally, Spirit has historically coexisted well in other fortress hubs, like; Detroit, Minneapolis, Houston (IAH), and Dallas (DFW), proving they can effectively compete with larger, legacy carriers.

ATL Market Share

I conclude that Spirit and Frontier are not entering Atlanta to gain market share from Delta, but rather Southwest. Delta’s numerous frequencies, extensive network, and corporate contracts are no match for Frontier and Spirit. The two ULCC’s believe they can use their ultra-low fares to stimulate cost-sensitive passengers that have otherwise been priced out of air travel. This business model does not directly compete with Delta, but rather Southwest.

The decisions by Spirit and Frontier to grow in Atlanta demonstrate that Southwest is no longer the low fare leader it once was. Their cost structure is higher than that of the ULCC’s competing for lower yield passengers. In a recent interview, Frontier’s president Barry Biffle called Southwest a “mid-cost carrier,” and said that in Atlanta, “fares are relatively high compared to the average,” (Atlanta Journal Constitution) creating an opportunity for a ULCC to come in and thrive.

Spirit Airlines to add nine new cities from Atlanta

Spirit Airlines (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood) is building up again its presence at Atlanta with nine new routes. The ultra low-fare airline just issued this statement:

Spirit Airlines continues its dramatic growth in 2015. Today the carrier known for its crazy low fares will add additional service to and from nine new cities from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Spirit is thrilled to announce the following new daily, nonstop routes from Atlanta:

Atlanta to Cleveland, Las Vegas, and Orlando beginning May 7, 2015

Atlanta to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Tampa beginning June 18, 2015

Atlanta to Los Angeles beginning August 20, 2015

Atlanta to Boston and Fort Myers beginning September 10, 2015

With these additional routes, Spirit Airlines will operate nonstop flights from Atlanta to 15 cities. Current routes from Atlanta include: Atlantic City, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, and Houston.

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-132 N503NK (msn 2470) arrives in Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood.

Spirit Airlines aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

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Delta Air Lines to stay at Dallas Love Field for at least another 180 days

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) has secured another reprieve at Dallas’ Love Field. Delta was due to lose their temporary sublease of a Southwest Airlines gate this week. Southwest needs the gate for expansion at DAL. Instead the carrier has secured a 180-day sublease of an United Airlines gate until early July according to Channel 5 in Dallas.

Delta offers Delta Connection service from Love Field to its Atlanta hub.

Read the full story: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Bombardier CRJ200 (CL-600-2B19) N922EV (msn 7822) of ASA (now ExpressJet Airlines) arrives at the Atlanta hub.

Delta Connection aircraft slide show: AG Slide Show