American Airlines Expands In Tampa, Adds Three Routes

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A few days ago I wrote about American Airlines’ expansion in Tampa, which probably interests me more than it should simply because I lived in Tampa for much of my life (and still have family there). These new flights are now on sale, so we have a sense of the aircraft that will operate these new routes, and what the schedules will be like.

American adds TPA BNA, LAX, and RDU routes

This fall, American Airlines will launch five new daily flights across three routes from Tampa (TPA). The airline will fly from Tampa to:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) 1x daily as of October 7, 2021
  • Nashville (BNA) 2x daily as of November 2, 2021
  • Raleigh-Durham (RDU) 2x daily as of November 2, 2021

This is the first time that I recall American operating flights from Tampa to both Nashville and Raleigh (though they may have existed many years back). The Los Angeles service represents a route resumption, as American operated that route briefly starting in 2014.

Historically Tampa hasn’t been a major market for American:

American Airlines is adding three routes out of TPA

Schedules for new American routes out of Tampa

Now that the routes are on sale, we know exactly what the schedules for these flights will look like.

American will operate its 2,158-mile Tampa to Los Angeles flight using both Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A321neos, with the following schedule:

AA2912 Tampa to Los Angeles departing 6:00AM arriving 8:34AM
AA2893 Los Angeles to Tampa departing 9:55PM arriving 6:19AM (+1 day)

American will operate its 612-mile Tampa to Nashville flight using American Eagle Embraer E175s, with the following schedule:

AA4730 Tampa to Nashville departing 9:55AM arriving 10:45AM
AA4566 Tampa to Nashville departing 2:45PM arriving 3:35PM
AA4730 Nashville to Tampa departing 11:00AM arriving 1:52PM
AA4566 Nashville to Tampa departing 5:05PM arriving 7:57PM

American will operate its 587-mile Tampa to Raleigh-Durham flight using both mainline Airbus A319s and American Eagle Embraer E175s, with the following schedule:

AA2911 Tampa to Raleigh departing 6:12AM arriving 7:52AM
AA4694 Tampa to Raleigh departing 8:30PM arriving 10:20PM
AA4753 Raleigh to Tampa departing 7:30AM arriving 9:22AM
AA2882 Raleigh to Tampa departing 9:23PM arriving 11:03PM

I’d say there’s nothing terribly surprising when it comes to the schedules or aircraft used, though personally I strongly dislike the schedule between Tampa and Los Angeles, which is the route I was most looking forward to:

  • I avoid domestic redeyes at just about all costs, because life is too short to miss a good night of sleep; I’m also not surprised to see the flight have that eastbound schedule, since that’s pretty standard
  • The westbound schedule is awful with a 6AM departure; despite being a morning person, I’d rather leave later and connect
American Eagle will operate some of these Tampa routes

What’s American’s motive with these routes?

During the pandemic Florida sure has become hot, as the state has remained largely open, and has become a place that many people have chosen to “escape” to. We’ve seen airlines add capacity to Florida like never before.

In some cases we’ve seen airlines simply increase capacity in existing markets (like American flying six daily 777s between Los Angeles and Miami), and in other cases we’ve seen airlines add new point-to-point leisure routes (like United flying from Cleveland and Milwaukee to Tampa).

American has embraced the former strategy rather than the latter strategy, so it’s surprising to see American now add new non-hub routes to Florida. That’s especially the case when you consider that these are already pretty well served markets:

  • Tampa to Los Angeles is operated by Delta, and seasonally by Alaska (United is adding this route as well now)
  • Tampa to Nashville is operated by both Southwest and Spirit
  • Tampa to Raleigh is operated by Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, and Southwest

This is coming shortly after Breeze Airways launched operations, and it has made Tampa its biggest focus city. Breeze is focused primarily on markets that don’t currently have any direct service, so I doubt there’s much risk of Breeze launching Nashville or Raleigh routes. However, I have to wonder if on some level expanding in Tampa is motivated by a desire to protect against Breeze.

Breeze has made Tampa its biggest focus city

Bottom line

I’m excited to see American add three new routes to Tampa, including to Los Angeles, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham. The Tampa to Los Angeles route is one that I was initially excited about, but the schedule might be a deal-breaker for me.

In general this seems like some pretty random growth from American, given that the airline doesn’t really do too much non-hub point-to-point flying.

What do you make of American’s three new routes out of Tampa? What do you think the motive is here?

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  1. Doug

    As a TPA based flyer (and EP) I'm always glad to see more route options. There is a growing business connection between Tampa and Raleigh, so being in that market makes sense. Southwest seems to do really well with their Nashville flight, so that also makes sense. The LAX would make more sense if AA wasn't routing so much Asia traffic through DFW, which obviously is easier from TPA, but it is a huge market so they can likely make it work.

  2. Randy

    LAX to TPA - I guess that helps out with all the people moving from CA to FL. Lack of water in CA will even accelerate the migration.

    1. Sir Walter Raleigh

      Nobody's moving to Tampa lol from California. Maybe MIA

      Part of the exodus myself. I lived in SF since 1978, but I'm planning to split my time between Philadelphia, Miami, and frequent visits to my city by the bay.

  3. D3kingg

    The cruise ship industry will rebound.

  4. Roberto

    14 more routes out of Austin!

  5. D3kingg

    PBI is more expensive to fly out of and FLL is closer than MIA.

  6. ORDPLATAA

    AA flew RDU/BNA-TPA back in the '90s when both cities were mini-hubs. I used to connect through both when traveliong to see family in Tampa in order to get in some extra segments (like flying ORD-BNA-TPA and BOS-RDU-TPA).

  7. Tim Dunn

    AA, like B6, is trying to slay so many dragons at the same time and others are doing the same to them that they are certain to end up more bruised than what they could possibly gain.

  8. John Buerer

    I think two issues come into alignment, resulting in American Airlines' starting direct routes to/from Tampa — the fact that Florida is a hot market now, and the Charlotte hub is overworked. If AA can get enough passengers to pay for beginning a direct route, and relieve their Charlotte hub by doing so, it's a win.

  9. Helen Miller

    AA had direct flights to TPA from RDU when RDU was a hub beginning in 1987.

    1. Kevin

      BNA-TPA needs some additional flights. While Southwest presence at Nashville has grown tremendously in the past six months, the number of daily BNA-TPA flights has actually shrunk. And the Spirit flights evaporated. Perhaps the latter have already or will soon return, but this market is ready for additional players.

  10. John s

    Looks like AA is really going after DL with expansions in BOS, AUS and now TPA

  11. steve64

    Yea, both BNA and RDU are restarts.
    I think BNA was 3x daily and RDU was 3-5x daily depending on the season.
    There were even RDU flights to St Petersburg for a short time.

    Can't forget about TPA to San Juan (which continued on to Grenada) for several years and during one schedule, one of the DFW inbounds continued to Nassau. Also for one or two winter seasons, one of the DFW flights...

    Yea, both BNA and RDU are restarts.
    I think BNA was 3x daily and RDU was 3-5x daily depending on the season.
    There were even RDU flights to St Petersburg for a short time.

    Can't forget about TPA to San Juan (which continued on to Grenada) for several years and during one schedule, one of the DFW inbounds continued to Nassau. Also for one or two winter seasons, one of the DFW flights was a 767-200.

    You mentioned UA flying CLE to TPA. Going way back to my young teen years (when I rode my bike to TPA every Saturday and spent the whole day there), I remember UA operating that route with a DC-10.
    NW had a 747 to ORD of all places. My favorite was the Northeast L-1011 'yellowbird' to BOS.

  12. Matt

    I thought AA would have left the LAX route to AS and codeshared. When AS started last year it was supposed to be year round on Saturdays but became seasonal. Think it is restarting daily seasonal?

    United tried LAX in 90/00s and Southwest had a go a couple of years ago. Only Delta has seemed to make it work consistently though.

    1. Matt

      Oh and just seen AS is launching Portland.

  13. Steven

    I can't be the first to want to point out that for many years AA had hubs at BOTH BNA and RDU and served both TPA routes with 3 flights/day.

  14. beachfan

    Why such crap times for lax-tap? Excited until I saw it was a red eye out and almost red eye back.

  15. George

    I personally love the TPA-LAX schedule

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George

I personally love the TPA-LAX schedule

beachfan

Why such crap times for lax-tap? Excited until I saw it was a red eye out and almost red eye back.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Nobody's moving to Tampa lol from California. Maybe MIA Part of the exodus myself. I lived in SF since 1978, but I'm planning to split my time between Philadelphia, Miami, and frequent visits to my city by the bay.

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