As a second part to my comment about emerging out of COVID, taking a look at each of the airport, how things open up and their competitors. Again, my belief is that in short term, domestic VFR and leisure to Florida comes back first, international VFR to Caribbean also come back quickly. Business comes back in short haul before longer distance. Also, my belief is that as more people work from home and more companies decentralize from their office in Manhattan, EWR and JFK will have more business demand that used to go mostly to LGA, since more people would be leaving from Jersey, Brooklyn, long island and westchester.
Also, I think given how hard COVID has hit many of the minority working class communities, they will reach herd immunity sooner than everyone else. So, these communities probably won’t have COVID shadow over them as long. People are going to be more willing to travel if they already anti-bodies.
JFK - AA will probably be giving up a lot of slots here. Go from 120 flights to 40 flights would mean a lot of slots become available. Both B6/DL will probably have fewer flights too but could downgauge. In B6’s case, it probably will need to run fewer flights outside slot hours to use up all its slots. The only ones I see looking to get slots here outside of B6/DL are NK and UA. The filed a complaint to DOT about AA’s slot hoarding. I see NK looking for LGA slots and EWR openings before JFK, but something for B6 to watch out for. UA will be more likely to come to JFK if they get in a partnership with B6. I think JFK slots will not be an issue for a while, so it’ more about how quickly B6 is willing to add flights here. Maybe they can reach 200 flights here by summer of 2022 and 220+ flights by 2025.
LGA - This really depends on when the slot waiver goes away, I see AA selling/leasing/trading a bunch of slots here due to its financial situation. I’m guessing 20 to 40. I see UA doing the same to maybe 10 slots (so CLE slots + a few more). I see DL/WS possibly having to fork out 8 slots from their JV application. It’s possible F9 will be willing to sell its slots given their new shift. I could see up to 50 slots being available to be sold/traded/divested. Their main competition here would be WN and NK (assuming DL cannot get more). PD would be interested, but I don’t think they have the money at the moment. WN’s advantage is that they have the most resources. I don’t think DOT will allow them to get all of the slots since WN already has 37 pairs. I assume that NK will be allowed to get some also. Maybe they can get 15 slots here?
EWR - I see UA shrinking quite a bit in the short term and F9 cutting back a lot. DL will probably cut EWR-BOS/RDU/CVG and AA will probably reduce the number of hub flights it has. In medium and long term, there are some upsides here for B6. Aside from what UA might do, I think only NK will be the only other airline looking to build EWR. I do see UA being smaller in the next few years, so EWR will not be maxed out for a while. B6 can concentrate on rebuilding JFK first and then expanding EWR from 2022. With the new terminal opening up, they should try to get as many gate as they can (maybe 6 to 8??)
HPN - I see everyone shrinking here. DL is leaving here until at least end of September. Who knows when they will come back. Given the wealth in this area, B6 should look to add more flights here to SJU/LAS/LAX and other location with leisure/VFR profile so that people that live here will use them for business flights out of JFK. Maybe they can get to 15+ flights a day here as legacies consolidate to JFK/LGA/EWR.
BOS - I think AA will be smaller and won’t be able to meet usage requirements for 18 gates. I think UA/WN could possibly lose gates also. And there will also be more room in Terminal E given the expansion there + likely reduced TATL flying for a few years. B6 already will have 29 gates in C + some number in E by end of 2021. AA retreating to hubs will probably bring the down to 70 flights a day in medium term. They probably need to give up 4 to 5 gates. B6 should look to get whatever they can get in B and E. Maybe they can get to 35 gates between B/C + access to 5/6 gates for most of the day in E by 2024. DL looks to be retreating to a focus city, so capacity will be down out of BOS among competitors. This is B6 time to take over that capacity before legacies recover and are able to build back up.
In short term, they should focus on building back up to the 180 to 190 flights they were running/scheduling before this started. That probably will happen sometimes in 2021. They should aim to fill in the void left by other airlines cutting back and building their BOS operation to probably 250 flights a day in medium term (2025) and aim for 300 flights a day long term (late 2020s) to dissuade another DL type of legacy buildup in BOS. It may sound too much to be adding 60 flights a day on top of what they were flying in Q1 of this year for 4 years from now. But if by 2023, DL is at 90 flights a day, AA is at low 70 and UA/WN are also smaller than 2019, they will basically be just filling in other carriers’ reductions. That along with building up a TATL hub is how B6 can turn BOS into a fortress hub.
LAX - I see AA/UA and possibly AS losing gates here. AA/UA lose gate due to their financial difficulties and AS due to concentrating in PNW/AK. F9 is gone and G4/SY likely to be reduced even more. If B6 stays in T5, it will most likely be gaining gates from F9/G4/SY/HA reducing/moving to other terminals. NK may also find a different terminal that will give it access to more gate space or it could get 1 or more that AA might give up. I think LAX won’t be gate constrained for a few years. Short term, B6 is likely to move out of LGB and into LAX if it can get 5 gates in total (like rumored before this started). It will probably be looking for more than that in medium to long term. LAX is where they want to be if they want to have a strategy of more than just East Coast.
FLL - I do think they will be a lot smaller in FLL for a while. Maybe down to 70 flights a day next summer. i think WN will also be smaller. If NK is around, I think they will recover to their pre-COVID size sooner than B6. The recovery of FLL really depends on how quickly they build out BOS/NYC and how quickly Caribbean demands come back. Either way, I don’t think FLL will be constrained for a while. The medium term is probably to recover FLL to pre-COVID size (100 to 105 flights a day). I would think the goal of 140 flights a day is more for 2025.
MCO - I think MCO will be reduced quite a bit. A lot of the international routes that depended on connection should be consolidated at FLL. They originally planned to anchor south terminal when it opens. I don’t see any reason to do this now that there are so many better opportunities around. With 20% unemployment rate, a destination dependent on leisure travel from middle class families will be suffering in demand for a while. I think the medium term goal is just pre-COVID size and long term goal probably not much beyond that.
So 2020, fight for survival
2021, focus on getting JFK/LGA to pre-COVID number of flights to use up slots and then getting BOS to pre-COVID number of flights by end of year. Start Europe
2022, meeting BOS200 goal and expanding JFK/LGA past pre-COVID number of flights to take up additional slots. Bring back EWR/HPN to pre-COVID size if not a little more. LAX to pre-COVID # of transcon flights + recover some LGB west coast flights (30 to 35 flights).
2023, Large Europe expansion, BOS to 225, grow EWR past pre-COVID size, JFK to use more slots, grow LAX to pre-COVID LA basin size (40 flights a day). Recover FLL to pre-COVID size.
2024, Bos to 240, JFK close to max out in # of flights, start up gauging again. Continue expand EWR. Recover MCO/SJU to pre-COVID size. Build on LAX to greater presence in west coast and transcon market. Start more connection through FLL.
2025, Completing TATL expansion and add selected deep SA flights from FLL. BOS to 250 and FLL to 140. Continuing upgauging at JFK/EWR. Starting new focus city opportunities?
It seems to me that if B6 does stay independent, it would be a good thing for them if NK gets acquired by someone in the next year or 2. That would remove a competitor getting slots/gates at JFK/EWR/LGA/LAX. It would give them more time to not grow at FLL and keep their focus on BOS/NYC. And it would prevent MCO from becoming a nightmare of a place to expand down the road.