American Airlines has just announced some major changes to their international route network, including several new transatlantic routes, as well as the cancelation of transatlantic and transpacific routes. Let’s look at what’s changing:
American is adding nine routes to Europe
I feel like for many years airlines weren’t at all creative, and simply added frequencies to existing routes. While that can be useful, there’s something that’s a lot more fun about seeing new routes altogether being added.
American has just announced that they’re adding quite a few new transatlantic routes, and some of these are quite surprising and creative.
American is adding nine transatlantic routes next summer, eight of which will be seasonal. Specifically, American will fly:
- Daily between Charlotte and Munich starting March 31, 2019, using an Airbus A330-200
- Daily between Phoenix and London between March 31 and October 26, 2019, using a Boeing 777-200
- Daily between Dallas and Dublin between June 6 and September 28, 2019, using a 787-9
- Daily between Dallas and Munich between June 6 and October 26, 2019, using a 787-8
- Daily between Chicago and Athens between May 3 and September 28, 2019, using a 787-8
- Daily between Philadelphia and Edinburgh between April 2 and October 26, 2019, using a 757-200
- 4x weekly between Philadelphia and Berlin between June 7 and September 28, 2019, using a 767-300
- 4x weekly between Philadelphia and Bologna between June 6 and September 28, 2019, using a 767-300
- 3x weekly between Philadelphia and Dubrovnik between June 7 and September 27, 2019, using a 767-300
American also notes that the seasonal transatlantic routes that they launched this summer between Philadelphia and Budapest, Philadelphia and Prague, Chicago and Venice, and Dallas and Keflavik, will be returning in 2019.
Here’s what Vasu Raja, American’s VP of Network and Schedule Planning, had to say about the new routes:
“By providing the only nonstop service from North America to Bologna and Dubrovnik and adding Berlin to our international footprint, American is making it easier to see the world. Through our Atlantic Joint Business, we have seen increased interest to these markets from the U.S., and adjusting our network to introduce these destinations will provide more choices for customers on both sides of the Atlantic.
We are in the business of making the world more accessible, and with the success of Budapest and Prague, as well as the new flights we’re announcing today, we continue to make the world a little bit smaller for our customers.”
These flights will become bookable as of Monday, August 27, 2018.
American is reducing flights to Asia
While American is adding some cool new transatlantic routes, there are also some reductions. Let’s first look at their Asian route network, will American will be:
- Cutting flights between Chicago and Shanghai as of October 26, 2018
- Reducing flights between Chicago and Tokyo Narita from daily to 3x weekly from December 18, 2018
These are only American’s latest cuts to Asia out of Chicago, as the airline announced in May that they’ll be discontinuing their flight between Chicago and Beijing as of October 2018.
American says that these route cuts are due to fuel prices and the current competitive environment. American is seeking a dormancy waiver for the Chicago to Shanghai route, which would allow them to restart the route once conditions improve. I would be shocked to ever see them bring back the route.
American continues to have a transpacific joint venture with Japan Airlines, which offers flights between Chicago and Tokyo Narita as well.
Here’s what Vasu Raja, American’s VP of Network and Schedule Planning, had to say about the cuts:
“We remain strongly committed to Asia and will continue to serve the region through our hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles. Our Chicago–Shanghai service is unprofitable and simply not sustainable in this high fuel cost environment and when we have opportunities to be successful in other markets.
These adjustments to our Asia service are necessary in this high fuel cost environment, but we remain committed to the network we’ve worked hard to build. As with Shanghai, American will continue to serve Tokyo through our hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles.”
It’s pretty crazy that American will be going from 3x daily flights to 3x weekly flights between Chicago and Asia. But as they say, their focus for Asia is definitely at DFW and LAX.
American is canceling other routes as well
While the Chicago to Asia cancelations deserve their own section, American is canceling other routes as well. Of course they’re very quiet about this. The press release focuses on the transatlantic expansion, and it’s only an attached document that references these cuts.
American will cancel the following service:
- Daily year-round A330 flights between Philadelphia and Munich as of March 30, 2019
- Daily seasonal A330 flights between Philadelphia and Frankfurt as of October 27, 2018
- Daily seasonal 757 flights between Philadelphia and Glasgow as of September 29, 2018
- Daily seasonal 757 flights between New York and Dublin as of October 27, 2018
- Daily seasonal 757 flights between New York and Edinburgh as of October 27, 2018
- Daily year-round 737 flights between New York and Port-au-Prince as of November 3, 2018
- Daily seasonal 787 flights between Chicago and Manchester as of September 3, 2018
- Daily year-round E140 flights between Dallas and Puebla as of December 18, 2018
- Daily year-round A319 flights between Los Angeles and Toronto as of December 18, 2018
- Daily year-round 737 flights between Fort Lauderdale and Port-au-Prince as of November 3, 2018
Obviously whether this is good or bad news depends on what routes matter most to you. The Asia cuts are a negative development, since it reduces the options we have for transpacific flights. Add in that American is reducing the size of business class cabins on many planes, and transpacific upgrades will continue to get tougher. American is more or less giving up on the transpacific market out of Chicago.
The network changes to and from Europe are a mixed bag, with American adding slightly more flights than they’re canceling. I at least appreciate that they’re trying new routes, and if they don’t work, they don’t work. Fair enough.
It’s also noteworthy that American is launching transatlantic flights out of five hubs, though out of New York we’re just seeing cuts. It’s clear American is focused on just a few transatlantic business markets out of New York, and they’re giving up everything else to Delta and United.
What do you make of American’s network changes?