In late January American Airlines first cut routes to China due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has reduced demand, and which made many American employees uncomfortable with operating flights to & from China.
Since then we’ve seen them increase the scope of flight suspensions, and they’ve just done that again, but in a pretty drastic way.
American cancels mainland China & Hong Kong flights through late April 2020
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, really, but American Airlines has just announced that they’re extending their cancelations of flights to mainland China and Hong Kong from both Dallas and Los Angeles through late April 2020:
- Flights from Dallas and Los Angeles to mainland China are now suspended through April 24, 2020
- Flights from Dallas to Hong Kong are suspended through April 23, 2020
- Flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong are suspended through April 24, 2020
Prior to this suspension, American had canceled these routes through the following dates:
- Flights from Dallas and Los Angeles to mainland China were suspended through March 27, 2020
- Flights from Dallas to Hong Kong were suspended through February 20, 2020
- Flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong were suspended through March 27, 2020
As you can see, these latest cancelations push back service by another one to two months, give or take.
American says that the longer suspension comes due to reduction in demand for these flights. The airline will continue to evaluate the schedule and make adjustments as necessary.
What happens if you have a ticket booked?
On February 16, 2020, American will run a formal schedule change, and customers who were booked on these flights will see their itineraries updated. Customers on canceled flights should be contacted for alternative options for getting to China. Those on canceled flights can receive a full refund.
I’m not surprised to see mainland China flights canceled for an additional several weeks, though I’d say the only thing that’s perhaps a little surprising is that American has canceled both of their Hong Kong flights all the way through late April.
At this point American Airlines’ only destinations in Asia include Tokyo and Seoul.
What happens to planes in the meantime?
With these cancelations we’re talking about up to six daily flights to Asia being canceled, all operated by 777s and 787s. So what happens to all of these planes in the meantime? Not a whole lot.
It’s my understanding that American Airlines plans to do some maintenance on these planes earlier than they usually would ahead of the summer schedule, but so far it doesn’t look like American has upgraded (m)any routes as a result of the situation.
While they most definitely have some spare 777s and 787s, the reality is that:
- Winter is generally weak for demand in most of the markets American serves internationally, so putting a bigger plane on a route wouldn’t necessarily be helpful
- Airlines take a complex approach to revenue management, so even adding capacity in domestic markets last minute won’t necessarily be profitable
I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see American maybe upgrade an existing domestic route to a 777, or something, but that’s the extent of what I’d expect to see.
One has to wonder if mainland China or Hong Kong flying will return in its previous form not just this summer, but in the medium to long term. We knew before all of this started that American wasn’t making money on some of their mainland China flights (Los Angeles to Beijing in particular comes to mind), so could this whole situation be used to eventually scale back some routes?
Only time will tell…
Are you surprised to see American cancel mainland China & Hong Kong flights for this long?