This is my best snapshot at
what to expect for the next six to twelve months. Be aware, however,
because of the natural ebb and flow of the airline industry, things can
easily change. In fact, the need to be quick and nimble has driven
us to redeploy aircraft and capacity in unprecedented fashion over the
last two years from the poor-performing Pacific and Latin America theaters
of operation to the better performing domestic and Atlantic theaters.
Because you need to make career and lifestyle decisions, I continue to
pledge to keep you informed of any significant changes in interim Pilot
Schedule articles leading up to the next six- month overview.
Since the last six-month overview back in January, we converted seven
B400s slated for delivery in the 2000-2002 time frame to nine B777 deliveries,
bringing the B777 fleet to 61 aircraft by 2002 -- up from the current plan
of 52. Also due to revenue weakness domestically, retirement of two
B747-100s was advanced from December to September 1999.
The firm fleet plan now lays out like this:
Year-End Fleet Plan
We also have enough A319/320 options (89) to start retiring the B727s
and some of the B737-200S between 2001 and 2003. This will help us
achieve our fleet simplification goal of going from the current nine fleet
types to five fleet types, with the B747-400, B777, B767/B757, A319/A320,
and B737-300/500 as the remaining fleets. A simpler fleet enables
us to build you better quality schedules, helps you avoid going to transition
school, and helps us move toward a goal of a big, medium and small equipment
domicile at each of our eight mainland domiciles, allowing pilots to progress
within one domicile.
B400. We continue to be long on B400s and short on B777s.
Generally, the economics of the B777 are so superior, that any route that
is within payload range for the B777 is best flown by a B777. Routes
that are B777-range capable but have high demands could be supported by
the B400s without much economic penalty, freeing up the B777 to do much
more valuable service on lower-demand international missions like SEA-NRT.
Since the last overview, we've canceled B400 service to LAXKIX and ORD-KIX,
but will be adding LAX-MEL service effective Dec. 4 and SFO-SHA service
in April 2000. We are also converting SEA-NRT B400 service to B777
service. Over time we expect to see B400s deployed on high-demand
routes like HNL-NRT and on high-demand routes to Europe during the summer,
as well as have B400s start replacing the B747 on heavy domestic wingtip
missions as the B747s retire. We take the 44th and last B400 on April
HNL is now expected to close Jan. 1, with the HNL B400 base scheduled
to open Jan. 31. The remaining B747-238 flying will be consolidated
at SFO. Mainland- to-HNL flying in the B747-238 with up to four roundtrips
will continue until year end 1999 and probably extend into 2000.
The final B747-238 aircraft is expected to retire March 2002.
The first Pacific mission to receive the B777 is SEA-NRT-BKK, which
starts Oct. 31 flown by the new SEA B777 crew base. If Asia recovers,
we can expect to see previously canceled routes return in B777B bunked
aircraft: SFO-SEL, LAX-KIX, ORD-KIX, and LAX-NRT #2. We also expect
to see two-class B777As start being deployed on LAX/SFO to the Hawaiian
Islands starting in early 2000. No major changes in the Atlantic
or South America are contemplated. IAD-MUC is expected to remain
as a B777 throughout the winter.
The DC10s will start retiring fairly rapidly at the end of 1999.
Expect to see these base closings: LAX in IQ/2Q 2000; SFO in 3Q/4Q 2000;
and ORD in 3Q 2001.
B767/757 missions should not change appreciably. As we take more
two-class B767-300s (five in 1999, three in 2000), they will be deployed
on hub-to-hub missions and West Coast to Hawaiian Islands. Anticipate
a sharp increase in B767/757 flying from LAX/SFO to Hawaiian Islands in
early 2000 after B747- 100s are retired and DC10s start dropping rapidly.
The big news here is the deployment of incremental narrowbody aircraft
in LAX this fall. These aircraft will be sourced primarily from the
growth narrowbodies that we were planning to take this year, as well as
aircraft freed up from wingtip replacement with the B747. If the
slot restrictions lift at ORD, look for us to build up ORD over time.
The slot issue is under pending legislation. The A320 will continue
to replace the B300s and B727s on longer- haul midcon missions. Look
for the B727s to continue to move east to Business One markets, and the
B300s to serve high utilization short-haul missions, some of which may
be converted to U30 operations.
Over the last year we have opened or announced the opening of JFK A320,
LAX B777, SEA B777 and HNL B400. Possible additional new domiciles
include MIA A320, DEN B777 and DCA U30. With respect to existing
domiciles, given the constant churn in the route plan, our short-term strategy
is to maintain stable line levels across all equipment domiciles -- where
possible -- by shifting flying around. This allows us to use existing
manpower in the short term, minimizing pockets of trapped surplusses.
If there is a clear picture of where we are heading with our route plan
and the resulting impact on an equipment domicile in the long term, then
we will be building or reducing line levels at that location in a very
orderly fashion, with the goal of avoiding taking lines from other domiciles
and also avoiding involuntary surplusses as much as possible.
With equipment in all stable or growing fleets, JFK lines are expected
to grow slightly across all equipment types. No significant changes
expected in the B400 or B777 fleets. No B400 domestic route expected
out of NYC, as no route has demand to support 400 seats. If we add
international service out of NYC with the B777, we would return ORDLHR
#3 to ORD. ORD-LHR #3 is used to keep JFK line levels stable, after
JFK-EZE was downgauged from a B777 to a B767. The A320 flying from
MIA-CCS/LIM service could go to MIA if a MIA A320 base opens. In
this scenario, we would backfill JFK with domestic A320 lines.
No net change from summer to winter on B777. This winter, IAD
B777 will have two roundtrips each to LHR, FRA, CDG and one roundtrip each
to AMS and MUC. Normal seasonal pulldown from B777 to B767 on IAD-CDG
#2 and IAD- MUC is not expected. IAD B777 loses the seasonal LAX-LHR
#2, but picks up the second IAD-FRA which is flown in the summer as a B400
with ORD crews. IAD-LHR #3 which is flown as a B400 by LAX crews
in the summer returns temporarily in September/October as a B777.
IAD B767 will continue to fly IAD- BRU, IAD-MXP, and possibly ORD-CDG #2.
Narrowbody lines in the A320 and B300 should increase by 25 to 50 to
support the buildup implemented this spring. We will move narrowbody
lines to IAD, as pilots bid off these equipment types at other bases.
Possible U30 domicile here if quickturn B300 operation proves successful.
The two B767 trips downgauged from B777 (GIG, SCL) are expected to
remain in B767 equipment throughout the winter peak. An A320 MIA
base is possible early 2000 if MIA-LIM proves economically viable.
However, the LIM route is payload restricted and has historically struggled
to make money in a B757. Hopefully we'll have an answer by later
Since ORD is a slot-controlled airport, expect overall stable line
levels but a shifting of lines from smaller to larger equipment.
However there is pending legislation to lift ORD slot restrictions.
If this were to occur, growth at ORD could explode. Summer flying
IAD-FRA for B400s will return to B777 flying with IAD crews in the fall.
A possibility exists that the second ORD-NRT could convert to B777 in future,
and ORD-KIX could return as a B777, but not until late 2000 at the earliest.
We'll maintain three ORD-LHR B777 roundtrips throughout the winter, with
two flown by ORD crews and one flown by JFK crews in a "W"
pattern as mentioned above.
No real changes here. A B777 base is possible, especially if
we receive DEN-LHR route authority. We still would like to have other
flying DEN-FRA and/or domestic flying to support an efficient base.
While DEN has been identified as a growth city for us, plans are put on
hold due to resource needs at IAD and LAX.
The B777 base opening was advanced to Oct. 31 to support SEA-NRT-BKK
service. There aren't enough A320 entries to justify an A320 base.
B767 and U30 operations remain fairly stable.
Like ORD, SFO is a capacity-limited airport, so overall line levels
will probably stay the same, but there will be shifting from one equipment
type to another, probably to larger equipment over time. SFO B400
loses SEA-NRT and HNL- NRT, but will pick up SFO-SHA in April 2000.
The second summer seasonal SFO-HKG B400 was canceled before it started
due to revenue weakness in HKG. B747-238 flying consolidates in SFO
after HNL base closing. A B777 SFO-SEL return is possible if Asia
recovers. Also possibility that second SFO-NRT converts from B400
to B777. Two-class B767-300 domestic and two-class B777A flying to
Hawaiian Islands expected to increase as we take delivery of these planes,
with sharp increases in B757/B767-300 two-class flying to Hawaiian Islands
expected in early 2000. DCIO base expected to close second half 2000.
No significant changes to narrowbodies. B727 expected to remain viable
until at least 2001 when we expect to start replacing B727s with A319s/A320s.
We officially made LAX a "hub" recently with facility expansion/renovation
and 30 incremental departures this fall, with southern tier flying to competitors'
hubs and short-haul United Express flying converted to United Shuttle flying.
Like the IAD buildup earlier this year, we will use existing allocated
manpower from other domiciles to pick up some LAX flying until the narrowbody
pilots bid off. So expect some shifting of lines to the LAX A320
and U30 fleets over time. LAX B400 lost LAX-KIX, but picked up LAX-MEL.
LAX B777 could pick up two- class flying to Hawaiian Islands in 2000, and
possibly some Japan flying in late 2000. DCIO base expected to close
first half of 2000. Sharp increase in B757/B767-300 domestic two-class
flying to Hawaiian Islands expected in early 2000.
A three to four aircraft operation is expected to continue to exist
here until August 2001, when the passenger DC10s retire. Then, we
would like to convert the flying to B40OFs, B777Fs, or B767Fs.
HNL B747 closes Jan. 1 and HNL B400 opens Jan. 31, with HNL-NRT flying.
HNL possibly picks up some NRT-tag flying.
We expect to hire 600 to 700 pilots this year, compared to 540 last
year. We anticipate that approximately 450 pilots will retire this
year (including age 60, MD, etc). Additional pilots may be needed
to support the FAAissued Notice of Proposed Rule Making for a dedicated
rest period for domestic reserves.