American Announces HUGE International Route Changes

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

Bottom line

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?

Comments

  1. I am excited about the addition of Dubrovnik, it is an extremely hard place to travel to. This makes it easy.

  2. Such a shame that ORD-PVG is going away. I remember 7 years ago seated in the middle of 5 seats on one of AA’s 2-5-2 777s flying that route.

  3. Just out of curiosity I see they are cutting both Frankfurt and Munich from Philadelphia flying the A330-200 which means they should have at least 2 free aircraft going forward. However, I only see a Charlotte Munich replacement for the A330-200 which would leave 1 additional A330 to deployed. As such is the PHL-MUC flight going from year round to seasonal or does American have other plans for the aircraft currently utilized for this flight and just hasn’t released its new destination and departure city yet?

  4. Once American travelers find their spine they inundate the place. Go where Americans are not cuz pretty soon Americans will be there.

  5. I didn’t even know that Dubrovnik could support long haul flights. Knowing the airport, it’s going to be messy

  6. Such a shame to see the rise, fall and ultimate cessation of the ORD-MAN route.

    Have flown on the 767-200, 767-300, 777-200, MD-11 and the venerable 757 on the route over the years.

  7. >3x weekly between Philadelphia and Dubrovnik between June 7 and September 27, 2018, using a 767-300

    While this is great for people who want to fly to DBV from the US, I’m not confident in the city’s capacity for any more tourists. Visiting the old city this summer was a really unpleasant experience, with people packed shoulder to shoulder in the streets. And the airport was barely able to handle the current narrowbody traffic: it took over an hour and a half to clear security and passport control on my outbound.

  8. Awesome to see a Dubrovnik nonstop being attempted! Anyone remember if there’s a US => Zagreb nonstop on any airline?

  9. Interesting that AA is going up against LH CLT-MUC. Would be a shame to loose direct access to LH’s Munich hub as a CLT resident.

  10. I am surprised that they are cancelling YYZ-LAX route. The only reason can be that they cannot compete with AC and WS, both of which offer a product (hard and soft) that is better than AA. That being said, AA has been hard in work to enhance their footprint at LAX, and having no flight out of LAX to the most major non-US city in North America will not help them with their strategy …

  11. Charlotte to Munich makes lots of sense, lots of German companies have a major presence in North Carolina.

  12. Cutting LAX-YYZ is interesting. The front was always busy with paid J and American EXPs visiting Toronto on Business. With the current US administration, not so much. It’d be interesting to watch this trend: paid business travel across the 49th parallel, from 2014 through current day. Lucky used to bitch that he had terrible trouble clearing upgrades on AA’s LAX-YYZ flight (although I had good luck on this route). I guess it’s a ghost bus now.

    Leisure travel is another story. Anecdotally, I don’t know a single person in Toronto that’s flown this route on AA. They all use United or AC because Canadians are all in Aeroplan, or they fly LCCs. Now, sadly, the route is monopolized by Star Alliance and LCCs.

  13. I wonder what happens to US airlines if oil sustains prices of say $90 a WTI barrel. Massive government bailouts? Further consolidation? Bankruptcies? Higher fares to stay afloat?

  14. @Lucky

    Could you make a post about your updated valuation of Ulimate Rewards Points after the split between Chase and Korean Air? Thanks!

  15. Wishing for a MIA – FCO flight someday, right now there is only Alitalia and I am nervous about booking it too far in advance.

  16. @DenB® United does not fly LAX-YYZ. Other than AC (and AA) the only other airline that flies LAX-YYZ is Westjet, and it is hardly a LCC. Well Westjet has a low cost structure, but customers do not directly experience and do not decide based on an airline’s cost structure. Also Westjet is in the process of adding a good business class to some routes, and their products and service in Economy are already superior to many full service airlines. Westjet strategy is not merely competing on price. People select Westjet because of its good reputation, service, and product, something like JetBlue.

  17. Just hoping this means more OneWorld award seats across the Atlantic not subject to the insane BA surcharges.

  18. Any ideas about what AA will do with the 3 JFK slots and the 2 757’s with lie-flat J seats it’s gaining by dropping the Dublin and Edinburgh flights? Any hope to see them flying to SEA or SAN from JFK?

  19. Had a recent round trip on American airlines from Durango Co to Anchorage. Flight to Anchorage was uneventful but the return trip was a nightmare. Flight out of Anchorage to Phoenix was postponed for 12 hours, then 14 hours, then 15 hours, which would put me into Phoenix too late for any flights to Durango. Finally got an Alaska airlines flight to Seattle then Phoenix then Durango. Ended up walking for miles thru both Seattle (because shuttle does not run in the middle of the night and the wrong gate was posted) and Phoenix airports. I’m not a young person. I will NEVER fly American Airlines again. Their excuse for the delay was lack of crew. Ok, American, when you sold me the tickets 6 months ago, you planned on having a crew! Weather was NOT a factor for this delay.

  20. @Lucky do you think American will plan to grow their presence out of NYC at all ever? Seems like every other hub gets more international routes….

  21. I don’t get why the move MUC from PHL to CLT where they have to compete with LH. I guess for someone connecting to and from the West it doesn’t matter if you connect in CLT or PHL but they are pretty much giving up all connecting passengers from the Northeast US to Southern Germany/Austria as none is going to fly down to CLT to fly back up towards Europe. Also NYC with its short hop from PHL to LGA has always been a good one stop option since in case of flight cancellations one could take Amtrak or drive.

  22. While Dubrovnik was somewhat difficult to get to, that was part of the attraction. I’m really disappointed to see that this beautiful city will be even more inundated with American tourists eager to see “Kings Landing” on their asinine GOT tours. I’m glad that I was able to experience southern Dalmatia before cruise ships and Game of Thrones ruined it. For those readers who are considering this flight – please stay in Dubrovnik and leave the rest of wonderful Croatia alone. Or better yet, go to Montenegro. It’s a just short drive to the south.

  23. DBV is much like VCE, connecting to the Mediterranean cruise market. I did DBV this summer and while crowded, no worse than anywhere else in Europe. And I was there for the Quarter final of the World Cup when Croatia was playing.

    The key to Dalmatian coast is stay 2 days in DBV and/or SPU and head to the islands for a week or more. Amazing.

    If anyone is in NYC, MOMA has an exhibit on Yugoslav post modern architecture and have many photos of the hotels (and other buildings) dotting the coast around DBV. Fascinating stuff.

  24. How on Earth is this remotely “creative”? You’re easily impressed by the most bizarre things sometimes!

  25. DenB® I live in Toronto and I flew AA LAX-YYZ in May after a birding trip to Arizona. I chose it because I’m 6’5 and they (and Delta) offer reasonably-priced extra-room economy seats, whereas Westjet doesn’t. No ghost bus either, as the flight was full. And as a funny aside, the tiny girl sitting next to me did yoga and had her feet on the ceiling literally as the wheels touched down in Toronto…talk about a memorable flight

  26. Disappointing for NY-based flyers. They’ve cut a few routes that suited me like MAN and BGI and now they are cutting DUB as well.

  27. There seems to be universal agreement about PHX-LHR. Add me to the list. I’ve been hoping for years to see more international traffic out of Sky Harbor. This will be our 3rd/4th daily flight to Europe depending on time of year. And we didn’t get stuck with a 767! I’m also glad to see any expansion by US carriers into eastern Europe. So many beautiful countries largely being ignored by US airlines.

  28. AA has really abandoned its NYC-based flyers. It’s one reason I’m giving up EP status after years and creatively booking elsewhere using credit cards etc for perks like lounge access and priority boarding. With the sharp decreases in benefits and the advent of premium economy condensing biz class size, it’s simply no longer cost-effective and more to the point, its damned inconvenient transiting via LHR or MAD (not that flying IAG airlines within Europe is pleasant either, even as top-tier elite). Not to mention what might happen should the UK be compelled into a hard Brexit, restricting airspace!

    I’m not sure why AA persists in the fiction that JFK is even a quasi-hub. All transatlantic nonstops are out of their true hubs of ORD, MIA, DFW and the inherited USAirways CLT, PHL airports. And how they can continue to fly the 767s and 757s on long-haul routes is a mystery. That Reykjavik flight from DFW on a 757 for 8 hours (little wonder they had that 34-hour delay)!

    Shame on you, American! As a million miler I’ll still use The virtually useless lifetime Gold status now and then, but you’ve lost my $12000+ a year!

  29. I second the @SawatdeeRuck comment about wanting AA to add its own metal on IAD-LHR (just not the 763, please!). DC has a lot of AA elites due to their DCA hub, but poor options for international travel — especially using miles.

    Heck, we need more Oneworld at IAD in general. Glad CX is starting service to HKG, now if we could just add JAL and IB, we’d be getting somewhere.

  30. The problem with AA for east coast fliers is that all the 757s and 767s out of PHL and CLT and sometimes JFK are substandard products so I’ll contiue to connect twice to get to Europe – once in JFK and once in LHR – to fly a good biz product or to have a good chance for upgrades. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the effort.

    Also why doesn’t AA try to grow in other areas internationally? Watching Delta and United dominate India and East Asia is painful. The Middle East is a joke bc AA doesn’t codeshare with QR anymore and JetBlue pretty much filled that gap left by AA.

  31. BA already has daily and twice daily flights (day dependent) from PHX to LHR. Could they have picked another European city to fly to?

  32. United will not mind the ORD changes. I think hot US destinations for international passengers are NYC, Bay Area, LA, Chicago, Texas, DC. United pretty much has covered all these other than LAX. This makes their international appeal vastly greater than Delta’s and slightly better than AA’s. I’m sure UA ORD BOM would be more appealing than a direct to Atlanta…

  33. I understand AA’s explanation for cutting the China routes… those fares have been depressed for a while. But they can’t even make daily service to NRT work on their own metal in a huge hub/city like ORD? That’s crazy. The folks over in Willis Tower are probably doing their happy dance over there this week.

  34. @Jordan – from the Original Jordan on here, calm down! Giving us a bad name.

    No one cares for your ranting, tell the airline!…it’s not the end of the world.

  35. I”ve gotta agree with @ChiGuy1979 re Dubrovnik. That city needs more tourists like a hole in the head. It’s inundated daily in the season by hordes off the cruise liners, as well as those arriving by land and air. If you haven’t been, maybe you’ve missed the boat, so to speak.

  36. Unfounded speculation time. The 6pm YYZ-LAX flight by WestJet seems to be cancelled as of October 28, and now the 6:25 American flight looks to be cancelled from December 18. That’s a 737 & A319 of daily evening capacity gone in under 2 months.

    The existing Qantas LAX-JFK tag flight has about the same timing and length as both the WestJet and American flights had – and they’re both QF partners. Could we see a new LAX – YYZ tag flight from Qantas, in addition to their existing JFK tag, but with 5th freedom carriage rights?

  37. Hey guys, before my little rant starts if you decide to read my full comment take everything with a pinch of salt, I am a Delta flyer.

    Asia: Chicago is on of the United States largest markets and for American it’s their 3rd largest hub but even so they face large competition from UA and Asian carriers as well as Deltas DTW hub. It’s a competitive market and unlike delta which faces no competition at DTW and United which has been in the market for years AA lacks a serious foothold and for many years now has been encouraging connections through more dominated DFW or western cities like LAX rather than ORD. If American wants to be competitive in Asia they have to be able to connect the east connect to Asia and dfw isn’t that appealing. American is mostly cutting these routes because they face steep competition and when they funnel through other hubs they get better results but if American wants to be competitive they have to COMPETE because sooner or latter ANA or China Eastern will be pulling up at DFW and where will American run to then?

    Europe:

    Stagnation is the name of the game at AA. JFK, American is camels 3 routes from jfk in addition to several domestic legs. Routes that were traditionally profitable have become unprofitable as American cuts route net work making it less appealing. What does that leave American at jfk with, LHR, CDG, MAD, BCN, FCO, MXP. I wouldn’t be surprised if American cancelled the Madrid flight and allowed Iberia to pick up the frequency as American seems to be trimming the 76/5 flights out of jfk. And Milan, if they partner with air Italy say bye bye to that one. American may be making more money out of philly but it’s loosing the us most important market NYC. At the remainder of the hubs American seems to be applying the throw it at the wall and see if it sticks strategy, some moves seem logical others are trying to capture the summer tourist over the business traveler.

    America is stagnating in both Europe and Asia, it’s cutting once fundamental routes from its network to serve leisure flights. To become more competitive I ve said it once and I’ll say it again, they have to compete.

  38. A non stop flight between Chicago and Athens has been long overdue. Very excited to see this come to fruition!!!

  39. @ Jordan I. Thanks for your opinion. You should know by now that complaining to the airlines, however politely, is useless. Indeed you’re lucky to get a reply, let alone compensation for any grievances. I’ll spare you examples, lol. (But the Big 3 clearly demonstrate no reciprocal loyalty toward or consideration for most of their best long term customers.) The airlines’ social media and PR people do read these sites, however, which is why “ranting” can be an effective means of protest because your words are read by many frequent fliers. Sorry if you found them shrill or offensive.

    So please do calm down yourself. Your response was unnecessarily… (I’ll leave the adjective to your imagination). Hardly giving this site a bad name, “original J.” Indeed, one might argue that acting as a thorn in the hospitality industry’s side now and then would prove infinitely useful to this site’s readers. Or would that be biting the hand that feeds you, as these new and dropped routes hardly qualify as “creative!”

  40. Wow, shame to see MAN/ORD AA55/54 going. That was my first main route as a regular flyer suffering through when it was a 757 and enjoying the 2-4-2 seating on the 767 even if it was a old jet.

  41. @glennt – The cruise ships are the biggest problem (here and, well, everywhere – the epidemics of the sea) but the whole dynamic has changed. I’m of Croatian ancestry and the traditional Balkan vacation was a week or more at a homestay, renting a flat and enjoying the beautiful coast. Now DBV is overrun by the cruise ship lice eager to spend a mere 5 hours on the “beautiful Dalmatian coast” while never spending a single dollar on a beer, wine, or ice cream. Luckily the mayor is taking steps to limit the boats. While the city initially liked the Game of Thrones attention, it’s been a curse as there are now more GoT tours, signs, souvenirs than things actually focused on the incredible food, history, and culture of Croatia. Not too long ago, this was a real living city filled with residents. Not so much today.

  42. Dubrovnik is great before cruise season starts, which is beginning of April. Not sure when it ends, but my last visit at the end of March was superb. New flight will benefit Montenegro tourism as well, as you can rent car at DBV and drive across the border and Montenegro is lovely and much cheaper than Croatia.

  43. Good move American. Forget about podunk towns like New York and dying regions like Asia (China and Shanghai in particular). The future is all about . . . Philadelphia and Dubrovnik.

    What a bunch of goofballs.

  44. Kind of off topic but I am desperate!

    American Airlines bumped myself and 20 other passengers off of flight AA5839 last Friday August the 17th. It was completely not voluntary. I was explicitly told that I no longer had a seat. They literally were deficient 20 seats. We were never given a clear reason on what happened to the plane. I was given a $600 voucher for the inconvenience and told to wait for my new boarding pass for the flight that would leave 7 hours later. 3 hours on they made an announcement that they had found another plane and rebooked all of us on it (flight AA3085) and that we were to walk 6 gates down to board the flight as it was set to depart at 1600. It did not depart until 1730 and I arrived home at PSP until after 1830, a little over 4 hours after I was originally supposed to arrive.

    Today, August 24th I received an email from American Airlines informing me that they voided my $600 travel voucher since they ultimately got me on a flight and that they were giving me 7,500 miles for my trouble.

    Their logic confuses me. I was given the voucher because they had to rebook me on a different flight but that’s the reason they decided to void it a week after issuing it to me?

    I am sure it isn’t illegal but how in the world can they think its ok to treat people like this?

    Do I have any recourse?
    Any advice would be appreciated. I am furious.

  45. To JC: the extra A330-200 will replace the 767-300 on the PHL to Prague route, which is operated seasonally. The inaugural service was so well received that they are going to replace the 763 with the 332 starting in April or May of 2019, whenever the season service starts.

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