American Airlines Cutting Capacity This Summer

Filed Under: American

Update: American Airlines has now cancelled many routes through summer 2020 and beyond.

This doesn’t come as any sort of a surprise, really, but today American has announced additional schedule adjustments in response to reduced travel demand.

American Airlines’ capacity reductions

With these latest capacity cuts, American Airlines is:

  • Reducing international capacity for the summer peak by 10%, including a 55% cut in transpacific capacity
  • Reducing domestic capacity by 7.5% in April

What routes is American canceling, suspending, and adjusting?

American Airlines Asia service reductions

American Airlines is greatly reducing service to Asia this summer, beyond the current route suspensions. Specifically, American is:

  • Suspending service to mainland China and Hong Kong from Los Angeles through October 24, 2020
  • Suspending service to mainland China from Dallas-Fort Worth through October 24, 2020
  • Suspending service to Hong Kong from Dallas-Forth Worth through July 2, 2020; in July the route will resume 3x weekly, and it will operate daily as of October 24, 2020
  • Extending the suspension of service to Seoul from Dallas through May 2, 2020, with the route being downgraded from a 787-9 to a 787-8
  • Flights to Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda will be operated by smaller wide body aircraft starting in May, including 787-8s and 787-9s

American will use smaller planes for some Asia routes

American Airlines Europe service reductions

We’re also seeing significant reductions to capacity in Europe. I imagine we could see even further reductions, given the US travel ban for Europe. American is:

  • Suspending service to Rome from Philadelphia effective immediately, through April 24, 2020
  • Extending the suspension of service to Milan, and suspending flights to Rome from Chicago and Charlotte through June 4, 2020
  • Delaying seasonal resumption of flights to Barcelona from Charlotte, and to Venice from Chicago, to June 4, 2020
  • Delaying seasonal resumptions of flights to Barcelona from Charlotte, and to Venice from Chicago, to June 4, 2020
  • Delaying seasonal resumption of flights to Rome from New York, and to Rome from Dallas, through April 24, 2020
  • Suspending a second daily summer flight to Rome from Dallas-Fort Worth

Several routes to Europe are being suspended

American Airlines South America service reductions

American is even reducing service to South America:

  • Flights to Montevideo from Miami will become seasonal, ending May 8 and resuming December 18, 2020
  • Flights to Santiago from Dallas-Fort Worth will be suspended through May 7, 2020

American is suspending some South America flights as well

Wide bodies coming to more domestic flights

Wide body aircraft will be deployed on key domestic routes in American’s network, and American will introduce a new seasonal service between Chicago and Honolulu this summer, using a Boeing 787-9.

More cuts could be coming with slot waivers

American Airlines notes that these capacity reductions assume that the airline isn’t granted any slot waivers. Specifically, some airports are heavily slot restricted, and have a “use it or lose it” policy, meaning that you lose your airport slots if you don’t fly a route.

That’s why we’re not seeing American cut any flights to London Heathrow, Tokyo Haneda, etc.

American has requested temporary relief from these requirements, to better align capacity with demand, without risking losing valuable takeoff and landing slots. If any of those waivers are granted, we can expect more cuts in some key markets.

American is hoping for some slot waivers

Bottom line

None of these capacity cuts come as much of a surprise, and if anything, American isn’t being as drastic as some other airlines. Assuming they’re granted slot waivers for Heathrow and Haneda, I expect we’ll see some more cuts there as well.

What do you make of American’s capacity reductions?

  1. What a basic lesson in leader ship.
    Breaking news from the Wall Street Journal. “American to reduce domestic and international travel. Southwest airlines CEO plans to take a pay cut”.
    I do not blame American for cutting. It makes good business sense. But how ironic is it that 3 DUI Doug stays silent while the Southwest chairman takes a leadership role for his employees.
    American will truly never change with the leader ship they have at the top.

  2. @Dublin – Doug’s pay is directly related to the stock price (he doesn’t actually get a salary). He is absolutely taking a pay cut. 51% vs last year as of yesterday to be exact.

  3. My wife and I are supposed to go to Aruba tomorrow. Are there any specific dangers of AA just cutting routes while we are gone? It appears Delta this morning just did some immediate cutting and trimming and not just to hot spot regions. Any advice is appreciated.

  4. Cuts like this will ripple through the economy since less flying means less money and/or jobs for employees. And that means people buying less stuff which leads to lower earnings. Hopefully by the fall things will be close to normal, if not, the stock market as well as the housing market will be hurting.

    Jobs can be fleeting and nothing is guaranteed, hopefully people have learned lessons over the years and managed to save money in an emergency fund by living below your means but the typical American usually fails at that.

  5. How times have changed..

    From Doug Parker on September 28, 2017, 12:29 PM MST

    American Airlines CEO: We’ll Never Lose Money Again!

  6. I actually think Delta and United are in worse shape. Delta is doing huge cuts and their main partner Korean Air may go out of business if this keeps up. United is heavily exposed in China. Also, American has more cash on hand than the other 2 (8 billion – I think UA is 6 billion and Delta is 2 billion). I’m first to always criticize American but Doug has been through many highs and lows of the airlines. His penny pinching has allowed American to not have to take as draconian measures yet as some others (Delta cutting 25% international!) I’ll give credit where credit due. It’s easy to spend lavishly when the times are good but the lows can be really hard if not prepared.

  7. I have a DFW-HKG flight in early October, have just called the Exec Plat line and they are like deer in the headlights. They are still showing daily flights and nobody knows anything about this announcement on their website

  8. @rich – the airlines are reacting to cuts in demand, not driving reduced supply. If people aren’t booking, the airlines can’t afford to keep flying empty planes. My employer is the second largest purchaser of airline flights in the country (federal government is first). They restricted non-essential domestic and international travel a few weeks ago and the restrictions have since gotten tighter, now restricting some travel that was previously considered essential. Federal government employees (some of whom are my neighbors) are seeing similar restrictions.

  9. @VitaliU I have a DFW HKG flight Sep 1 and customers service call back time is more than 2 hours . Sounds like a waist of time.

  10. i’m 200% in favor of relaxed slot/route-authority usage rules. the last thing we need is a bunch of completely empty planes blasting out greenhouse gases for the sake of rules that should only be applicable during normal times.

  11. Nothing on the AA website regarding China suspensions.

    I have PVG-DFW booked for May 11 and the reservation is still there, with only a slight schedule change.

  12. @VitaliU — Same here. I’m booked DFW-PVG at the end of June and no one at the Exec Plat desk knows whats going on. I think the announcement hasn’t made its way thru the system as all the flights to China are still showing bookable and not zero’d out yet.

    D3KingAmerican — Wait time is not 2 hours if you call the Exec Plat desk. You should also try calling Aussie/Fiji offices via Skype

  13. American is hoping for some slot waivers…

    Nice picture in the article’s body but I didn’t realize that AA was flying A350s.

  14. Any idea which days the DFW-HKG-DFW flights will go if 3x weekly? Booked on award J class in August and limited availability so would like to switch now vs wait weeks or months for AA to update inventory. They should update before public announcements as the CS agents have no clue what’s happening.

  15. @Vitaliu – I have a flight HKK-HKG-LAX in F on September 24 and no flight notifications or changes. Not in the mood to call EX desk at this point. Flying the opposite route on Cathay September 18 and no news on the Cathay side.

  16. Already downgauging JFK-LHR flights from 773 to 772 as well. For their most profitable market, that’s a big deal

  17. Just got an email from AA. They said my flight to Hong Kong will be canceled and they will update my ticket on the 15th

  18. Update : American has loaded the 3X daily schedule for DFW HKG

    DFW HKG will be Sunday , Monday , and Friday.

  19. Update: American removed my HKG-LAX segment on 9/24 but left my HKK-HKG with Cathay in tact. No email notification and a message to call a representative on the change in schedule. Again, all things considered, I’ll call them in a few weeks. Surprised that they did not send an email as I had to see the deleted flight on AA to deduce what had changed.

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