American Airlines teased a big announcement, and now they’ve shared several new routes although it’s not quite as comprehensive as I thought it might be — they aren’t bundling in the kitchen sink of a few domestic or Mexico/Canada routes and announcing routes they’re ending at the same time.
We’ll see a return to Tel Aviv, as well as new service to Casablanca, Krakow, Prague, and Budapest. Yesterday I wrote to expect Eastern Europe, and specifically speculated on Chicago – Krakow and Philadelphia – Casablanca and mentioned “rumors of Tel Aviv coming back” something I said would happen back in May.
|Dallas Fort-Worth||Tel Aviv, Israel||3x/week||787-9||Year-round, starting Sept. 9, 2020|
|Philadelphia||Casablanca, Morocco||3x/week||757||June 4–Sept. 8|
|Chicago O’Hare||Krakow, Poland||5x/week||787-8||May 7–Oct. 23|
|Chicago O’Hare||Prague, Czech Republic||5x/week||787-8||May 8–Oct. 24|
|Chicago O’Hare||Budapest, Hungary||4x/week||787-8||May 7–Oct. 24|
Doubling Down on Eastern Europe
American started seasonal Philadelphia – Prague and Budapest last year, and has done well with seasonal Eastern European routes (heavily seasonal Europe was a legacy US Airways strategy). Adding Chicago flights to those cities doubles down on the strategy and should add greater efficiency to their operation.
And while normally transatlantic expansion happens (first) from Philadelphia, Chicago’s big Polish community means local traffic for a Krakow route.
American Airlines Boeing 787-8 in Chicago
Putting an End to Conspiracy Theories With a Return to Israel
US Airways flew Philadelphia – Tel Aviv and it was a money loser. The flight lasted longer than it might have, distracted by merging with American.
In 2014 American dropped their partnership with El Al leading some to speculate that they’d grow their flying to Israel, perhaps adding New York JFK – Tel Aviv and Miami – Tel Aviv to the legacy US Airways Philadelphia – Tel Aviv service. However in 2015 American announced the end of their Israel service.
When it was pulled there were myriad theories — that the airline was running away from ex-TWA employee claims there, that there was pressure from oneworld member Qatar not to fly there (!) though Qatar owns 20% of British Airways parent IAG and that doesn’t stop BA’s flying — but this should finally put those to rest. American dropped Israel because they were losing money.
As El Al and United specifically have built of Tel Aviv service, American has now focused on its Dallas Fort-Worth hub. That doesn’t compete with extensive New York service, or any other flights currently offered by competitors, and it will draw connecting traffic from the Midwest and Western U.S. I’d expect Christian religious travel more than leveraging the Jewish market.
In May American’s CEO Doug Parker was enthusiastic about Tel Aviv, and regretful over pulling out. Parker explained,
We pulled out because we weren’t making money. At US Airways we flew Philadelphia – Tel Aviv. Try as we might we couldn’t make profits on that route. And they were getting worse not better. A different time, that was several years ago. That’s the stop, no other reason.
I’ve heard some of these weird theories but there’s nothing else to it. We made the choice. We love flying there to. I like you made the trip there, it was one of the highlights of my life. .. It was one of our worst days when we decided to pull that flight for all of those reasons, but it was entirely because of that. But Vasu’s now here scheduling a bigger airline. How does Tel Aviv look one day in the future?
Vasu Raja added, “We chose our way out of Tel Aviv. Arguably we did it too prematurely. We’re not going to be out of Tel Aviv forever.” And he suggested that the ariline was “looking at that and future expansion with the 787 to any number of places” including Tel Aviv.
Flying to Africa.. With a 757
Royal Air Maroc joining oneworld gives American connecting traffic on the Africa side via Casablanca, Morocco.
Currently American’s reach into Africa is limited. They’ve eliminated codesharing with Qatar Airways and Etihad in service of a failing political campaign, and British Airways offers limited service. Royal Air Maroc gives them greater reach.
Royal Air Maroc’s U.S. flights are on Boeing 787s and will be a far more comfortable ride than American’s 757s, though 3600 mile flights are a real sweet spot that underscore the ‘middle of the market’ aircraft gap in Boeing’s portfolio without a 757 replacement.
More Route Announcements to Come
There’s still announcements that we’ll see related to the Qantas joint venture, perhaps service changes to Tokyo Narita (since two new slots at Tokyo Haneda may not mean to net new flights and no other shifts), and routes the airline could give up on like Bologna, Italy.
Here’s Vice President of Network Planning Vasu Raja talking about the new routes. I like when he says no one is happier than he is talking about growth in Chicago, since he gets a lot of heat from employees over international cuts at O’Hare. He notes they’re extending the season for Chicago – Rome as well. And he adds Casablanca is the first step to flying into Africa, and that they plan to fly to partner hubs.