Travel notes: American strikes back at Frontier’s Pittsburgh service; Avelo’s weakest routes

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The Petreon site recently listed the weakest and strongest cities in the percentage of filled seats on airline routes as of September.

When it came to Avelo, no Wilmington destinations had the highest load factors. It’s worth noting that service from Delaware was launched less than a year ago and it takes time for some routes to catch on. Avelo’s strongest routes are mainly out of New Haven and Burbank. Both destinations have been in operation since the airline’s launch in 2021.

Four Wilmington stops had the lowest percentage of occupied seats – Charleston, SC to Wilmington; Fort Lauderdale to Wilmington; Wilmington-Raleigh Durham; and Daytona Beach-Wilmington.

Service to Daytona will temporarily end in early January, resuming in March. Fort Lauderdale service remains in place, with Charleston and Raleigh-Durham listed as a seasonal routes. Avelo officials have been happy with the performance of Wilmington flights, but won’t hesitate to cut marginal routes, especially if fuel prices increase.

As suggested previously, it would be good idea if Delaware scounges up some tourism funds to promote Wilmington service to and from cities with lower passenger counts.

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American strikes back at Frontier

Frontier Airlines Sunday launched three-day-a-week nonstop service from Philadelphia International Airport to Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

At present, Frontier is the only carrier offering nonstop service between Philadelphia and Santo Domingo, with American not responding for now.

With the new route, Frontier serves 28 destinations from Philadelphia. The airline’s December 2023 schedule represents an increase in seats of more than 70% from four years ago. Frontier is now the second largest carrier operating out of Philadelphia

Frontier caters to leisure travelers and dominant carrier in Philadelphia, American Airlines has, for the most part, not attempted to square off against the ultra-low-fare airline.

That changed over the weekend with Frontier recently announcing daily flights to Pittsburgh, where fares run a minimum of $400 round-trip and some flights feature cramped regional jets. Frontier flies larger Airbus jets.

In response, American is adding flights to Pittsburgh, with indications that it will put its bigger jets to work on the route.

It mirrors that strategy of predecessor US Airways when Southwest added low-fare service to Pittsburgh more than a decade ago. Southwest retreated and has only a modest presence in Philadelphia, while building up a hub in Baltimore-Washington that attracts some Delaware passengers.

American Airlines is also keeping a wary eye on Delta Airlines, which, according to a recent Forbes story is adding flights American’s hub in Miami and Austin, Texas. In the case of the Texas city, American previously dropped some flights.

American may be the most vulnerable of the big four airlines (the others are Southwest and United) since the airline the least profitable among the big four, even though it’s the largest carrier.

Thanks in part to low-fare competitors and a location near other metro airports, Philadelphia is believed to be less profitable than other American hubs, like Charlotte.

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