US carriers still growing internationally; Canada still #1 destination, JFK #1 airport

Image: Big 6 International services are up 1%
America’s airlines may have removed over 10% of domestic capacity from their networks this winter but as far as international capacity is concerned, the ‘big6′ US legacy airlines have between them actually increased their offer to passengers by just over 1%. An analysis of international routes being offered from US airports this winter reveals that overall international capacity provided by both US and foreign carriers is down around 1%.

American Airlines is still by far the largest airline in terms of international capacity though it has reduced its capacity by 2% this winter compared to last. Continental and Northwest remain virtually unchanged while United is down 4% and Delta up 5%. The biggest change is at US Airways where international capacity is up over 25% compared to a year ago. The ‘big6′ now account for just over 50% of all international scheduled capacity at US airports this winter.

Chart: Top 15 airlines on US international routes
Source: OAG Max Online for November 2007 and November 2008

Despite a capacity reduction of almost 10% Air Canada still offers more international seats from the US than either US Airways or Northwest, although they are all to Canada. British Airways leads Lufthansa, Air France and Virgin Atlantic in the ranking of European airlines. Low-cost heavyweights jetBlue and WestJet have both significantly increased their capacity on international flights to and from the US compared with last winter.

Canada extends lead as most popular country market

Neighbours Canada and Mexico continue to be the leading two country markets for US international air travel with Canada extending its lead with a 4% increase in seat availability. All of the other top 10 international markets have seen capacity decreases with the exception of Brazil, where seats have increased by 27%.

Chart: Top 15 US international country markets
Source: OAG Max Online for November 2007 and November 2008

Outside of the top 10 China, Italy and Jamaica have all seen double-digit capacity growth since last winter. Capacity to Puerto Rico is down after American axed a number of routes while surprisingly the UK market is down as well, despite the revised air service agreement which allowed a number of carriers to start services from London Heathrow this summer.

Miami gaining on JFK as #1 international gateway

Since last winter the number of airports offering international flights has fallen from 71 to 68. Thanks to daily Air Canada flights to Toronto, the US airports of Dayton, Grand Rapids and Richmond are now all international airports. However, Bakersfield, Bangor, Chicago Midway, Daytona Beach, Melbourne (in Florida) and Tucson no longer offer destinations requiring a passport.

New York’s JFK airport continues to be the leading airport for international traffic but Miami is gaining ground.

Chart: Top 15 US international airports
Source: OAG Max Online for November 2007 and November 2008

Among the top 15 international airports the biggest capacity increases have occurred at Philadelphia (+14.3%) and Atlanta (+11.3%) while the largest reductions have occurred in California at Los Angeles (-13.1%) and San Francisco (-12.3%). The top 15 airports account for around 84% of all international capacity at US airports.

Delta reveals major transatlantic expansion plans

Having already grown 5% this winter Delta recently announced plans for several new international routes starting next year including serving Paris CDG from both Raleigh/Durham and Pittsburgh, and new routes from New York JFK to Bucharest, Gothenburg, Lagos, Prague, Valencia and Zurich.

Meanwhile, US Airways is continuing to grow its international offerings with new services from Charlotte to Paris CDG and from Philadelphia to Birmingham, Oslo and Tel Aviv. United has also unveiled plans to connect Washington Dulles to Geneva from mid-April and to re-start its abandoned Denver to London Heathrow service on a summer-only basis. Continental is heading in the other direction with a new daily service to Shanghai from Newark starting at the end of March.


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