Coronavirus has hit San Francisco particularly hard. The California airport is the hardest hit in the US. The planned capacity for this summer is still well below that of two years ago. This is based on the study of 455 airports across the country.

San Francisco is still a long way from prepandemic. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying.

Around 192 U.S. airports have already exceeded their pre-pandemic levels, with Fort Myers growing the fastest with a capacity of over three million seats. However, 263 airports are down, led by San Francisco, and the country’s airports were cut by a total of 128 million seats this summer.

The 20 airports that fail the most

While California was one of the most coronavirus-hit states in the country, it now has an above-average number of vaccinated citizens, and the number of cases per 100,000 is the lowest on the mainland.

Still, a quarter of the 20 worst-hit airports are in the state, including three in the Bay Area. San Francisco is down 15.4 million seats, a 37.4% decrease as shown below.

  • San Francisco: Reduction of 15.4 million seats compared to S19 and -37.4%
  • The angel: -12.9 million; -21.2%
  • New York JFK: -11.4 million; -25.2%
  • Chicago O’Hare: -10.9 million; -17.9%
  • Boston: -7.5 million; -24.4%
  • New York La Guardia: -6.7 million; -28.8%
  • Atlanta: -6.6 million; -8.8%
  • Newark: -5.4 million; -16.5%
  • Philadelphia: -4.9 million; -20.4%
  • San Jose: -4.2 million; -34.4%
  • Washington Dulles: -4.1 million; -22.7%
  • Minneapolis: -3.9 million; -14.2%
  • San Diego: -3.8 million; -20.7%
  • Detroit: -3.7 million; -14.1%
  • Washington National: -3.6 million; -20.9%
  • Portland, Oregon): -2.7 million; -18.8%
  • Oakland: -2.5 million; -24.4%
  • Baltimore: -2.4 million; -12.4%
  • Las Vegas: -2.4 million; -6.9%
  • Houston Intercontinental: –2.3 million; -7.5%

Taiwan’s EVA Air will operate 14 weekly departures to Taipei starting July, up from eight that same week in 2019. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying

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Why is San Francisco so depressed?

San Francisco’s international capacity has practically halved, a fate that has plagued many airports with normally strong international presence. While a large portion of this comes from airlines that still service the airport at a lower level, this summer about 15 international passenger airlines are not serving it compared to S19.

  • Air china
  • Air Italy
  • Air New Zealand
  • China East
  • China South
  • El Al
  • Finnair
  • Hong Kong Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • Interjet
  • Norwegian
  • Qantas
  • Thomas Cook
  • XL Airways France

In S19 Norwegian had a route from London Gatwick to San Francisco, later Barcelona and Paris CDG were added. It is one of the few airlines that no longer serve the California airport. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying.

Some airlines are no longer active

Some of the above airlines have ceased to exist, such as Air Italy, Interjet, Thomas Cook and XL Airways France, while others, such as Norwegian and Hong Kong Airlines, have ceased long-haul flights. Meanwhile, Icelandair has cut the airport while others, like Qantas, are only temporarily absent and will be returning.

However, Qatar Airways inaugurated San Francisco on December 15, 2020, while Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways is keen to begin long-haul flights possibly as early as September 1. Bamboo Airways tends to show an interest in new routes only to not start them. So let’s hope this actually happens.

As the largest airline in San Francisco, it’s no surprise that United is the most underdog at S19 with nearly eight million seats fewer. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying.

Big domestic reductions

Apparently, most of the capacity cuts in San Francisco came from the domestic market, with the following four airlines dropping 900,000 seats or more. With United firmly the leading airline of San Francisco, it’s no surprise that it is the hardest hit. Simple Flying recently researched Denver, which has become the airline’s premier hub.

  • United: Decrease of -6.2 million domestic seats; -41.0%
  • Alaska: -1.6 million; -33.9%
  • southwest: -1.3 million; -49.0%
  • delta: -981,000; -30.6%

Alaska Airlines introduced San Francisco to Anchorage, Boise, Bozeman, Missoula, Phoenix, Redmond, and Spokane. All good places in the open air. Even so, cuts elsewhere mean it is still well below its pre-pandemic volume. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying.

Far fewer intra-California flights are a big reason the domestic market is declining so sharply, which is not helped by the coronavirus-induced drop in business travel and the resulting need for high frequencies. Of the larger targets, Burbank is particularly hard hit with a capacity reduction of almost 60%. For example, on July 12th there will be two departures compared to 12 two years ago.

In contrast, two airlines – JetBlue and Frontier – have exceeded their prepandemic levels. As Frontier’s network dropped from six to five routes, and Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Austin disappeared, Phoenix and Ontario have been added. However, the growth is mainly due to the strong expansion into Las Vegas.