Here’s Where US Airlines are Growing This Quarter — and Which Big Airports See Them Running Away

Airline Weekly (subscription only) ran charts this week with data from Diio Mi showing the number of scheduled seats departing various airports for the largest U.S. airlines in the second quarter, and the year-over-year growth (or retrenchment) that represents.

Some fascinating take-aways:

  • American Airlines customers in Charlotte should now realize they don’t need to fear for the future of their hub post-merger integration, Charlotte is the airline’s second biggest city and seat capacity there is growing. It may not see transatlantic growth but it’s the only gateway to the Southeast to rival Delta’s Atlanta.

    We cannot say the same for legacy US Airways hubs Philadelphia or Phoenix which will both see fewer seats in the second quarter. There’s some pullback at New York LaGuardia, and American’s New York JFK operation will be down 9% (and American offers fewer seats there than at LaGuardia).

  • Capacity at Delta is fairly steady state in the second quarter, notching up a bit at Salt Lake and LaGuardia and double digits off a much smaller base in Boston.

  • United is growing across the board — up 4 to 8 percent in Chicago, Newark, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles. They’re growing in Chicago while American is not. I had not realized that Chicago O’Hare offers more departing seats for United than Newark or Houston.

  • JetBlue is growing gangbusters in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Long Beach, and Newark.

  • Like JetBlue, Spirit is doubling down in Fort Lauderdale, adding 18% seats year-over-year in the second quarter to the airport that already is the airline’s biggest operation. They’re also betting heavily on Orlando. (Meanwhile Frontier is growing 35% in Orlando as well.)

  • Alaska, which continues to offer more than twice as many seats out of Seattle than Delta does even though Delta is flying widebodies internationally, will grow there and in Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco — and a whopping 17% in San Diego and 30% in San Jose (though those operations remain only about a tenth as large as in Seattle).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Who did the research on the article? American Airlines is indeed GROWING in Chicago. Just this year they’re adding:BCN,GUA, BZN, ATW , BHM, BOI, COS, GSO, GSP, PIB, MEI, ONT.
    Also they are building 5 more gates in Chicago, While United is no gates in the pipeline. AA is and will be adding lots of flights/seats to ORD.

    ORD, LAX & DFW are big winners in the merger.
    CLT & PHX added lots of domestic flights.

  2. PHL has been a disappointment since the US Air/AA merger. AA flights out of there are so freaking expensive and never have decent award availability. Hopefully AA starts giving up some gates there so other airlines can move in and at least make it competitive.

    Also, how has JetBlue been growing “gangbusters” in Newark? I haven’t researched it that much but I see the same direct flight options out of there as I have seen in the past few years. Would be interested to hear more about this. Is it just more Boston and Orlando flights?

  3. As a PHL-based flyer, I can also vouch that PHL flights on AA being more expensive than they were pre-merger. PHL was a strategic hub for US Air, but for AA, it appears to merely be an opportunity to gouge a niche group of flyers.

  4. I think JetBlue is retreating in LGB. Only Southwest is adding flights there. There are only 42 slots there and Southwest acquired 2 more. JetBlue cannot grow in LGB unless AAgives up some slots. DL & WN want to grow LGB.

  5. @ Marshall : you do realize when he says an airport is growing or shrinking its based on available seats to and from the airport As such it’s very possible to add a few routes and cut some others and still be shrinking. Growing doesn’t mean more destinations – it means more available seats

    Example – if two airports have the exact same routes and frequencies which do you consider more important ? They both have the same exact departure and arrival count.

    Let’s say one consisted of 10 a380 flights and the other is 10 CRJ flights.

    Clearly we want to measure in available seats.

  6. As an American flier, I have noticed DL is eating AA’s lunch a bit in LGA and JFK. AA is trying to make it up through promotions, status giveaways and such, but DL (I guess along with JBLU and maybe UA over at Newark) seem to be winning here

  7. CAKFLYER, seriously, you are talking about A380s? Which US based carrier flies an A380? And why would you compare an A380 to a CRJ?
    Look the article is wrong and I spoke facts. He said that UA is growing in Chicago while AA is not. That is absolutely false and I told you what cities they have added. They are building 5 more gates which means that they will be ADDING even more flights.
    Jetblue is shrinking LGB. There are only 42 slots and Jetblue is losing slots.
    I realize that you wrote just to try to protect the writer but you didn’t use any facts. Why on earth you are talking about an A380 when no airline mentioned has one. Why don’t you come back with facts to show that AA is indeed shrinking in Chicago. They are growing and will grow. AA has also added: PUJ, ALB, PVD, ASE, MTJ, ORF, LAN, RAP & CAK. So AA is adding, was adding and will be adding in Chicago. Jetblue cannot grow in LGB and has been shrinking.
    If you have any facts other than talking about the a mythical A380 that no US based carrier flies I’d love to see your facts and data.

  8. Sometimes it seems like they should rename Logan International Airport to JetBlue International Airport. It will be great if they ever add in flights to Europe.

  9. It feels like UA is shrinking at IAH. It seems like I’m getting a schedule change announcement showing how a flight I purchased a seat on has been eliminated….flights to big cities. Both were ‘last flights of the day’ with limited connection possibilities at the end.

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