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American and Delta reactivate 300 planes as summer travel plans get a boost

June 11, 2020
7 min read
American and Delta reactivate 300 planes as summer travel plans get a boost
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Rows upon rows of parked planes are one of the most striking images of the coronavirus pandemic's impact on airlines. Now, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are among carriers returning some of those jets to the sky as they slowly build back their schedules.

American has reactivated 64 stored jets for its June schedule and plans to bring another 141 aircraft back from storage in July, spokesperson Brian Metham told TPG. The planes are being brought back to help support the airline's plans to boost flying this summer. In July, American will add more flights to account for an uptick in travel, though the carrier's overall schedule will be just 55% of what it flew in July 2019.

Delta has returned 16 aircraft to service in June on top of 30 that were previously reactivated, according to airline spokesperson Morgan Durrant and a June 3 memo to pilots. The airline plans to bring another 74 planes back in July.

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More aircraft in the skies is a welcome sign for the travel industry. While the number of passengers on flights remains a fraction of where it stood a year ago, airlines see clear signs that people are willing to fly again even as concerns of COVID-19 remain. Travelers are heading to places with open spaces, like the Rocky Mountains, and to beaches in Florida and other coastal states.

In addition, the reopening of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and theme parks like Universal Orlando are attracting people tired of being cooped up at home for months.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening numbers hit a new post-COVID peak of 441,255 people on Sunday, June 7. However, the number remains around 17% of those screened on the same day a year ago.

Related: American to reopen lounges, add flights to Florida, Rockies as flyers return

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
American is bringing 34 737s out of storage and placing them back in service in June. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

For June, American brought 12 Airbus A320s, 34 Boeing 737-800s, 10 Boeing 777s and 8 Boeing 787s out of storage. The jets are being used for both passenger and cargo flights, said Metham.

American's U.S. domestic flights are operating on average 62% full this month, said CEO Doug Parker at the carrier's annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

Delta brought back a mix of Airbus A321s and 737-900ERs in June on top of the 30 jets already reactivated, it told pilots. In addition, four new Airbus A350-900s were brought out of storage for planned maintenance, though they are not slated to return to passenger flying in the immediate future.

Related: A state-by-state guide to coronavirus reopening

Delta is returning nine A321s to service this month. (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)

American will still have 153 mainline jets stored come July. Delta will have around 618 mainline and regional aircraft stored by that time, though notably it continues to fly all of the Airbus A220s in its fleet.

At their peak, U.S. carriers had more than 3,000 jets in storage, according to trade group Airlines for America (A4A). That number stood at 2,882 as of June 7.

Both American and Delta were also among the first U.S. carriers to use the crisis to accelerate aircraft retirements. American has permanently removed five types — Airbus A330-300s, Boeing 757s and 767s, Bombardier CRJ200s and Embraer E190s — from its fleet. Delta has retired three types, including the McDonnell Douglas MD-88s and MD-90s that flew revenue flights for the last time on June 2.

Related: Alaska Airlines is leaning towards an all-Boeing 737 fleet after the coronavirus

Alaska Airlines plans to return 20 of its stored jets to service this summer, president Ben Minicucci told The Seattle Times this week. The carrier has retired 12 jets, all 10 of its Airbus A319s plus two A320s, due to the pandemic.

Southwest Airlines continues to monitor travel demand and will adjust the number of aircraft it has in storage accordingly, spokesperson Brian Parrish told TPG. The airline has 400 aircraft in some form of storage, though only 140 737 jets are in what it considers "long-term" storage.

United Airlines spokesperson Rachael Rivas told TPG that they continue to evaluate their "fleet mix" for the airline's planned summer schedule.

Related: Delta operates final MD-88 flight amid tough times for airlines

Featured image by American, Delta and United regional jets temporarily parked at the Pittsburgh airport. (Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport)

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases