American Airlines Extends China & Hong Kong Cancelations To Late April 2020

Filed Under: American

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.

Bottom line

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?

Given the latest information on the coronavirus situation, my thinking changed, and I ultimately canceled my flight through Beijing. For more on the rapidly-developing situation, check out these posts:

Comments
  1. Curious if/when United will do the same. I have a few United trips from SFO laying over HKG in March and April. Would be nice to get this kind of notice from UA.

  2. Not surprised at all. AA had great hard time to compete DFW-HKG and LAX-HKG routes even before the outbreak. I hope when all the dust settle down, CX will consider new route flying to DFW direct.

  3. Amusing that DL canceling flights through late April (your post from 1/31/20) prompted surprise and Wow from you. Again, DL seems to have a handle on its business…

  4. Luckily i’m on an AA ticket just after these dates, but outbound from HKG operated by CX. Anyone know if they rebook on to CX for AA canceled flights?

  5. AA is definitely not making money on PEK – LAX. I was booked to fly that one-way in premium economy for $465. Flight got cancelled but that is a really low price.

  6. I spent an hour on the phone with Chase / AA on an award booking with return travel from Hong Kong in mid April and they are telling me I can’t change it without a waiver. Typical AA customer service. How do they expect customers to get back if they cancelled all flights through April.

  7. Alan – Any trivial event prompts “surprise and wow” on this blog!

    Sometimes I find it ridiculous, but it is kinda nice reading posts by someone who is over-excited. Much better than the normally dreary tone in the media.

  8. I think you’re reading too much into this. One of the main reasons why the airlines have delayed their operations to/from China for so long is one of a planning purpose. They can always bring the deadlines forward if the situation improves. But it’s not really the virus that is causing this. It’s more of the fact that the planes go very empty perhaps less than half full and that the flight crew refuse to fly to China at this time.

  9. @Simon, not sure what you are talking about? my last flight LAX-HKG on AA in late January was almost full, and that’s the route where they are competing head-to-head with CX. DFW-HKG is consistently full. Don’t know about the yields (does anyone?), but loads have been solid and the aircraft rotation at HKG between the two routes is quite efficient. CX transfer feed must account for the bulk of it. So I’d be surprised (and disappointed) if those two flights don’t resume as soon as the coronavirus situation improves.

  10. There’s really no need to single out American Airlines here. Obviously there is an unprecedented situation taking place. An act of God.
    In terms of getting back to normal demand as things were before and in some cases they were horrible to begin with I’d say by Fall of 2021 demand to China will be fully restored.

  11. They will rebook on CX. My canceled AA flight BOS-DFW-HKG was rebooked on a direct BOS-HKG flight on CX. Furthermore, I if you used a SWU and cleared prior to cancelation, they will rebook you into J, not Y. I’m EXP with ~$30k EQD if that makes any difference (agent had to ask supervisor’s permission)

  12. Thanks Alex – I’m booked on J anyway so good to know if the return leg was cancelled (which is AA metal) it may then get swapped to CX.

  13. American done an excellent job. We are family of four Booker on DFW – HKG flight . They Re booked all of via lax on Cathay. And they contacted me to give me the update. Excellent work !!

  14. As with Alex above, my SWU-cleared flight to ORD-DFW-PEK was rebooked in J, though on JL. Pretty solid turn of events for me. Very pleased with AA’s handling. of this.

  15. “Are you surprised to see American cancel mainland China & Hong Kong flights for this long?” not at all. Demand is down due to the virus and the protests. There are significant reasons to be skeptical of the Chinese government and their numbers at this point. There are numerous reports that they are under counting the death toll and have engaged in heavy censorship of those speaking out about the current medical situation. I’d be very hesitant to trust anything they say at this point, especially when their first reaction was to arrest doctors who tried to raise an alarm about this.

  16. Thos is a good opportunity to drop some of those flights all together that are unprofitable and redeploy them to other locations not served from DFW.

  17. United cancelled its flights from HK and I’ve been stuck here ever since. I changed my flights twice and both were cancelled. Now I read United will start operating February 20 but I don’t want to wait around for Feb 20 and they still don’t start operating. I use to love flying with them but since they are telling me I’m not eligible for a full refund I’ll be giving them a break after this.

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