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American Airlines Lays Out Brand New International Flight Strategy

by Gary Leff on July 1, 2020

United Airlines is more reliant on international flights than other big U.S. airlines. They are out today with an expansion of their international route network for August.

On Saturday I told you that one was coming from American that’s much broader including, quoting internal comments by CEO Doug Parker, “what we plan to fly next summer and what we don’t plan to fly.” That announcement is now out.

They’re revamping their international strategic focus, and bringing back many routes for summer while break-even load factors are so low thanks to the CARES Act. LAX is no longer their Pacific hub. They’re doubling down on close partnerships. And that means a lot of flight changes.

Summer 2021 will still be 25% below 2019. The airline indefinitely parked or retired Boeing 757s, Boeing 767s, and Airbus A330s.
Focus on connecting markets leveraging partnerships. Hubs and connectivity with joint venture partners is how Senior Vice President Vasu Raja sees the airline’s strength.

The airline will use Dallas, not LAX, as their primary transpacific hub and Miami remains focal for Latin. They are pulling back some flying from both Philadelphia (their main European gateway) and Charlotte.

Routes killed:

Philadelphia: They won’t fly Philadelphia – Casablanca after all, and are killing Philadelphia – Berlin, Budapest, and Dubrovnik.
Charlotte: Killing Barcelona, Rome, and Paris
Dallas Fort-Worth: Dropping Munich
LAX: takes a beating, dropping China flights Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai and they’re also dropping Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. Hong Kong was relatively cheap to operate because they needed two planes to operate to and from Dallas, adding LAX took only one additional aircraft. The future there then is seen as really grim.
Miami: loses Brasilia and Milan
Chicago O’Hare: has been a weak international city for American, scaling back, and it will lose a chunk of its summer leisure Europe – Budapest, Krakow, Prague, and Venice. Budapest, Prague and Krakow were supposed to be new routes.

Leaning into their British Airways joint venture they anticipate a full Heathrow schedule by summer 2021. They’ll also double down on their Alaska Airlines partnership, still planning to launch Seattle – Bangalore and seeking to move LAX-Shanghai to Seattle.

The airline also announced the following service resumptions or launch of previously planned new routes:

Origin Destination Schedule change
Charlotte (CLT) Frankfurt (FRA) Service resumes summer 2021
CLT London (LHR) Service resumes winter 2020
CLT Munich (MUC) Service resumes winter 2020
Chicago (ORD) Barcelona (BCN) Service resumes summer 2021
ORD Dublin (DUB) Service resumes summer 2021
ORD Paris (CDG) Service resumes summer 2021
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Beijing (PEK) Service resumes summer 2021
DFW Buenos Aires (EZE) Service resumes winter 2020
DFW Lima (LIM) Service resumes winter 2020
DFW Sao Paulo (GRU) Service resumes winter 2020
DFW Rome (FCO) Service resumes summer 2021
DFW Santiago (SCL) Service resumes summer 2021
DFW Tel Aviv (TLV) Service launches winter 2021
Los Angeles (LAX) Auckland (AKL) Service launches winter 2021
LAX LHR Service resumes winter 2020
LAX Sydney (SYD) Service resumes summer 2021
New York (JFK) CDG Service resumes winter 2020
JFK BCN Service resumes summer 2021
JFK EZE Service resumes winter 2020
JFK Rio de Janeiro (GIG) Service resumes winter 2021
JFK GRU Service resumes winter 2020
JFK Madrid (MAD) Service resumes summer 2021
JFK Milan (MXP) Service resumes summer 2021
Miami (MIA) CDG Service resumes summer 2021
MIA GIG Service resumes winter 2020
MIA GRU Service resumes Aug. 6, 2020
MIA MAD Service resumes summer 2021
MIA SCL Service resumes Aug. 5, 2020
Philadelphia (PHL) Amsterdam (AMS) Service resumes winter 2020
PHL DUB Service resumes winter 2020
PHL LHR Service resumes winter 2020
PHL Manchester (MAN) Service resumes summer 2021
PHL MAD Service resumes winter 2020
PHL CDG Service resumes summer 2021
PHL FCO Service resumes summer 2021
PHL Zurich (ZRH) Service resumes summer 2021
Phoenix (PHX) LHR Service resumes winter 2020
Raleigh (RDU) LHR Service resumes winter 2020
Seattle (SEA) Bangalore (BLR) Service launches winter 2021
SEA LHR Service launches summer 2021
SEA Shanghai (PVG) New service subject to government approval

Miami – São Paulo and Santiago are two routes I told you on Saturday to expect. Neither route is expected to have a lot of passenger demand. Currently Brazil passenger arrivals into the U.S. are restricted. American’s bet is that a low level of passenger demand, supplemented by a bit of cargo, will make the flights work. Remember that the airline is already paying for its planes, and thanks to the CARES Act is paying its crews through September 30 so the cost of incremental flying is mostly just fuel. Break-even load factor is low right now.

American also announced that change fee waivers for new ticket purchases are extended through July 31 excluding Basic Economy and award tickets. New more expensive AAdvantage change fees go into effect today.

AA and AE News

* * * * * * *

On Oct. 7, American Airlines will suspend service to 15 smaller markets, citing low demand.

The markets are: Del Rio, Texas; Dubuque, Iowa; Florence, S.C.; Greenville, N.C.; Huntington, W. Va.; Joplin, Mo.; Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Mich.; Lake Charles, La.; New Haven, Conn.; New Windsor, N.Y.; Roswell, N.M.; Sioux City, Iowa; Springfield, Ill.; Stillwater, Okla.; and Williamsport, Pa. Service to those cities will be suspended only for the October schedule, which runs through Nov. 3, and American plans to release an updated November schedule by the end of September.

The cuts are "the first step as American continues to evaluate its network and plans for additional schedule changes in the coming weeks," according to the carrier.

The timing of the suspension comes after the end of service requirements of the Coronavirus Air, Relief and Economic Security Act, which required carriers to maintain service as a stipulation of receiving government aid. American noted that it would re-evaluate its plans if an extension of the program is approved.

​​​​​American Airlines to Operate 45% of October Capacity, Add 24 Seasonal Routes

By Kurt Stolz on 31 August 2020

American Airlines said it plans to operate 45% of its October schedule compared to the same period in 2019, the airline said Sunday.

The airline had said in July its capacity for the quarter would drop by 60% year over year.

The move comes as the airline will drop at least 12 cities once the terms of a federal bailout that required the flights expires. The original plan was to drop 15 cities including Sioux City, Iowa, Joplin, Missouri, and Roswell, New Mexico.

Sioux City, Iowa, and Joplin, Missouri, are considered “essential air service” cities.

Essential Air Service is a U.S. government program that dates back prior to the deregulation of the airline industry in 1978.  It guarantees that small communities that were served by a commercial carrier prior to deregulation would continue to receive a minimal level of scheduled air service that would otherwise not be profitable.

The list of cities where the airline will discontinue service include Del Rio, Texas; Dubuque, Iowa; Florence, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; New Haven, Connecticut; Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  American is the only airline that services these cities.

Other cities where service will likely be discontinued include Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Michigan; Huntington, West Virginia; New Windsor, New York; Springfield, Illinois; and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

American said it plans to add 24 seasonal routes in its new schedule in an attempt to lure more leisure travelers planning trips to warmer cities such as Miami and Phoenix

American Airlines Backs Off Illegal Plan To Stop Serving Joplin, Missouri And Sioux City, Iowa

by Gary Leff on August 29, 2020

On August 20th American Airlines announced plans to drop air service to 15 cities unless the government forked over another $6 billion in subsidies. The cities were spread across 14 states (28 Senators!) and many of the airports slated to lose service October 7 are represented by members of the House Transportation Committee.

However the plan while containing a certain amount of logic was too clever by half. As I noted the same day, no one at American Airlines realized the problems – and I promised they would walk back the plan to drop at least two of the cities specifically Sioux City, Iowa and Joplin, Missouri – and pointed out a wrinkle in eliminating service to Roswell, New Mexico as well.

So it was no surprise to see the report that American is pausing its plan to drop service to Sioux City, Joplin, and Roswell. (HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

Sioux City and Joplin are ‘Essential Air Service’ cities
American agreed to continue flying these routes without subsidy to block United Airlines from receiving subsidies
EAS cities that were part of the program prior to September 2011 have special conditions. An airline with an EAS award cannot stop serving the route without providing notice to DOT, and is usually required to continue operating flights until DOT finds a replacement.
American announced the plan to drop service but hadn’t realized this notification requirement.

When I asked American about the rule they’d be breaking by dropping service October 7 without having served notice, they offered “We will follow the DOT process with regard to EAS markets.”

Meanwhile Roswell, New Mexico is performing poorly. Though it’s far from the next-nearest air service, New Mexico restrictions have limited air recovery to an extent greater than many other cities. It’s understandable that American wouldn’t want to continue passenger service.

Back in March American Airlines parked Boeing 737, 737 MAX; 757; 767; and 777-200 aircraft in Roswell. They’ve made the decision to retire the 757s and 767s, and have been ferrying MAX aircraft to Tulsa.

Since they’re storing aircraft in Roswell and ferrying mechanics back and forth to maintain planes, they’d still need to fly without passengers – or send mechanics to Albuquerque and rent cars for the 3 hour, 200 mile drive each way.

Expect the American Airlines filing with DOT to drop Joplin and Sioux City service to show up online this week. Meanwhile American “hasn’t decided how long it will continue air service to Roswell.” I imagine they’ll work out a deal to pick up subsidies for their Roswell flight. And they may receive subsidies during any DOT-mandated holdover period at Joplin and Sioux City.
[American's Plan To Drop Service To Sioux City, Iowa And Joplin, Missouri Is Illegal]

American's Plan To Drop Service To Sioux City, Iowa And Joplin, Missouri Is Illegal