In 2021 and 2022, American Airlines was focused on turning Austin-Bergstrom Airport (AUS) into a focus city. While the airline previously primarily flew to American hubs from Austin, American’s network out of the city has grown to over three dozen destinations, ranging from Cancun, to Orange County, to Tampa. That growth is finally being reversed, in a major way.
In this post:
American canceling most Austin routes
American Airlines has just loaded a major schedule change, whereby the airline is massively cutting its network out of Austin as of early 2024 (this was first flagged by @AdrianWaltz). With these changes, we’re seeing service cut from Austin to the following destination (with the last date of service also listed):
- Albuquerque (ABQ) flights end as of February 14, 2024
- Bozeman (BZN) flights end as of January 6, 2024
- Cincinnati (CVG) flights end as of January 7, 2024
- Cozumel (CZM) flights end as of January 6, 2024
- Eagle-Vail (EGE) flights end as of February 10, 2024
- El Paso (ELP) flights end as of February 14, 2024
- Fort Myers (RSW) flights end as of February 14, 2024
- Jacksonville (JAX) flights end as of January 7, 2024
- Kansas City (MCI) flights end as of February 12, 2024
- Liberia (LIR) flights end as of April 2, 2024
- Memphis (MEM) flights end as of January 7, 2024
- Nassau (NAS) flights end as of March 30, 2024
- Oklahoma City (OKC) flights end as of February 12, 2024
- Puerto Vallarta (PVR) flights end as of April 3, 2024
- Punta Cana (PUJ) flights end as of March 30, 2024
- Reno (RNO) flights end as of January 7, 2024
- Sacramento (SMF) flights end as of February 12, 2024
- Tampa (TPA) flights end as of February 12, 2024
- Washington Dulles (IAD) flights end as of February 14, 2024
On top of that, planned routes to Destin-Fort Walton (VPS), Montego Bay (MBJ), and Tulsa (TUL), won’t even launch anymore.
This represents well over half of American’s destinations out of Austin. This leaves very little for American, beyond hub-to-hub flying. American will still fly from Austin to Boston (BOS), Cancun (CUN), Charlotte (CLT), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Las Vegas (LAS, Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Orange County (SNA), Philadelphia (PHL), Phoenix (PHX), Raleigh (RDU), and a few other destinations.
Why is American pulling back so sharply from Austin?
For a while, Austin was one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, but that’s no longer the case, and the Austin “bubble” seems to be popping to some extent. For example, between July 2022 and July 2023, house prices in Austin dropped more than in any other major city, which isn’t a great sign in terms of growth.
This is only the latest bad news for Austin when it comes to aviation, as Virgin Atlantic recently announced it would discontinue flights to Austin, while British Airways is reducing flights to Austin this winter.
What do I make of American’s service cuts in Austin?
- Clearly American was banking on continued growth in Austin and wanted to get out ahead of the other major carriers, but that just hasn’t materialized the way the airline hoped
- Even as a focus city, Austin was heavily reliant on O&D traffic rather than connecting traffic, given that American’s Dallas hub is geographically quite close to Austin
- Much of American’s network out of Austin was operated by American Eagle regional jets, and I suspect those will be needed more in the Northeast, given that the Northeast Alliance between American and JetBlue has been discontinued
- It’s my understanding that American has been losing money on its Austin growth since the start, but then again, American is losing money on a lot of its flying
- On some level, it seems like American grew in Austin to try and prevent Delta from growing there, but it’s only worth losing money for so long
- This is only American’s latest failed strategy, just like American attempting to turn Seattle into a long haul hub; yet American insists that the reason the company is so undervalued is because management isn’t doing a good job telling its story…
American Airlines has loaded major schedule cuts at Austin Airport, as the airline will discontinue nearly two dozen routes at the airport. American is eliminating a majority of its routes that aren’t to other hubs, clearly marking the end of American’s Austin focus city experiment. This is one of the most significant reductions in service I ever recall seeing by a major airline at a focus city…
What do you make of American’s route cuts in Austin?