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Airline's beef up domestic summer schedules with larger jets as international travels are uncertain.

Airlines beef up domestic summer schedules with larger jets

April 20, 2021: -The twin-aisle Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has a range of above 7,500 nautical miles to fly passengers on a non-stop 15-hour journey from Los Angeles to Sydney. American Airlines is planning to use the 285-seat plane on much shorter routes, such as Chicago to Orlando, this summer.

With many trips abroad still grounded in the pandemic, American and Delta Air Lines opt to put some of their large jetliners to work on domestic routes or shorter international trips.

The planes are meant to fly long-range, filling up with higher-paying passengers to travel abroad. If international travel demands come back, as the expectations of Americans this fall, the airline would wind down the practice. “It’s like buying a Porsche to drive it to church on Sundays,” said Brian Znotins, Vice president of network planning of America.

Domestic leisure travel has recovered from a year ago, shuttle executives say. However, international bookings and services are still depressed because of quarantine requirements, closed attractions, and outright entry bans such as the one on most non-citizens from much of Europe entering the U.S. and vice versa.

Delta uses Boeing 767s it would usually use for long-haul international flights on routes from Atlanta to Denver, Las Vegas, San Diego, and its hub at Minneapolis-St. Paul. These planes and their Airbus A330 will serve Hawaii from Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, but also shorter flights like the Twin Cities to Phoenix.

The idea is to “fill up the biggest boat you can find with very low-cost seats and hope that the fares come in,” said Robert Mann, an industry analyst, and former airline executive.

American’s schedule so far shows it will operate a combined 3,104 flights using twin-aisle planes on domestic routes in July and August, up from 563 a year ago and 2,846 during the same months of 2019, according to data from Ascend by Cirium, an aviation consulting firm.

“American’s current strategy seems to be to fly as much as they can and worry about yields later,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline manager. He runs an air travel assistance company, Cranky Concierge, and writes the Cranky Flier blog.

United typically flies more domestic trips using wide-body planes than other U.S. carriers. Still, this year, flying has been hampered by the practical grounding of its Boeing 777 fleet with Pratt and Whitney 4000 engines pending inspections after a failure shortly after a Hawaii-bound flight took off from Denver in February.

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