American Adds 9 New Europe Route, Nearly Eliminates Chicago – Asia Flying

For months I’ve been writing that American was considering a major pullback of their Asia routes from Chicago. They announced the elimination of Chicago – Beijing after losing as much as $100 million on the route but their other Asia flying — Shanghai and Tokyo — wasn’t performing much better.

I suggested that Shanghai seemed like a goner, but that Tokyo might survive because of their joint venture across the Pacific with Japan Airlines which helps them with connecting traffic beyond Tokyo.

  • Today American Airlines has announced that they’re suspending service between Chicago and Shanghai with the last departure to Shanghai on October 26 and last return to Chicago on October 27. American risks another airline picking up route authority to China in their place, but will ask the Department of Transportation to hold the spot for them.

  • They’re also reducing Chicago – Tokyo Narita service down to three days a week effective December 18. For June through August Japan Airlines will increase its flying with an additional four roundtrips per week so that combined they offer two daily roundtrips.

Meanwhile American is scaling up service to Europe with 9 new routes, all but one of which will be seasonal, a strategy we saw a lot of from US Airways.

American is launching Munich service from both Dallas Fort-Worth and Charlotte. Only Charlotte’s service will initially be planned as year-round. Dallas will also get a Dublin flight. Both of these announcements have been expected.

In June I wrote that authorities in Dubrovnik were looking for service to New York. I was skeptical, but wrote that if this happened it would be Boeing 767 service from Philadelphia which is exactly what we’re getting.

American Airlines Boeing 767 Business Class

Last month American’s Vice President – Planning Vasu Raja told employees that their Budapest and Prague flights are some of their most profitable to Europe so it makes sense for them to continue experimenting to the East and a 767 gives them a low cost way to do that with plenty of connecting feed through Philadelphia.

We’re also going to see summer Europe flying from Philadelphia to Edinburgh, Berlin, and Bologna. Notably there’s no new routes to Europe announced from New York JFK where American seems largely to have given up on everything outside of their premium transcons and London Heathrow.

Chicago will get an Athens flight. Greece remains a mess, but the only current Athens services competitors fly in the U.S. is from the New York area. I’m surprised to see the flight go to Chicago when they’re already flying there from Philadelphia but it may be an aircraft utilization issue — Chicago is home to several 787-8s, and American’s reduction in Shanghai and Tokyo flying frees up 787-8s which is what they’ll use to fly to Greece.

American Boeing 787-8 in Chicago

On a daily seasonal basis they’re adding capacity to Phoenix – London alongside the current joint venture partner British Airways’ daily flight. This has been in the works for some time and last week American told employees in written question and answer that they were looking at long haul service from Phoenix. It was clear we’d see them flying Phoenix – London Heathrow.

New flights will be available for sale August 27th, and it’s a good idea to check for award availability at that time. New routes don’t always get loaded with award inventory, but they often do. As tough as transatlantic premium cabin redemptions can be on American, it’s worth watching out for.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As a NYC flyer with options on all 3 alliances across three local airports, Oneworld is really uncompetitive to Europe with miles. BA is a nonstarter for me (subpar business + fees + taxes to london) and AA availability much worse than my star alliance options.


  2. And AA is dropping JFK-EDI, JFK-DUB, PHL-MUC (the CLT-MUC replaces this), PHL-GLA, PHL-FRA. So, in effect, they’re just shuffling the deck chairs.

  3. @Evan : yea that’s why i laugh so hard when AA wants to tell us with a straight face they only care about “business” destinations out of New York. Apparently they don’t think people conduct business in Frankfurt, Zurich, Tel Aviv, Shanghai etc.

  4. Also in the announcement was a slew of route cancellations:

    1. ORD-MAN, which has existed on a seasonal basis for a REALLY long time. (In fact, before the ORD Admirals Club was renovated, there used to be art commemorating the launch of the route that hung on the wall near the restrooms.)

    2. PHL-GLA.

    3. PHL-FRA and PHL-MUC. While CLT and DFW gain MUC, it makes me laugh that they advertise PHL as their “European hub” and yet do not have service to these two major business centers.

    4. JFK continues to get cut. Losing DUB, EDI, and PAP. I guess they really are focused on connecting everyone through LHR; I remember when you could fly to MAN, DUB, EDI, and even BHX via JFK.

    5. LAX-YYZ

    6. FLL-PAP (didn’t even know they flew this…2x/day!)

    7. DFW-PBC

    All in all, would not call this a “scaling up” of service to Europe given the cancellations above–just shifting things about.

    Unrelated, but about AA: anyone noticed that when you click “e-mail customer relations” on the website today, you’re directed to a page that doesn’t work? So much for submitting complaints or compliments.

  5. AA almost certainly will lose their China route authorities.

    DOT did AA a big one when they revoked DL’s authority. So if DL/UA wants to commence additional flying to PEK/PVG it’s only reasonable for the DOT to afford them the opportunity unless AA can announce a new route immediately.

    I also suspect the PHL cuts (or route swapping) has more to do with operational limitations at PHL. Unlike other major large hubs PHL does not have as many wide body capable gates.

  6. Having flown about everything over the Pacific from Chicago, AA offers the worse hard & soft product. Even United is better. The competition is ANA, JAL, EVA, etc. at about equal cost. Which would you pick?

  7. Surprising cutting PHL to FRA and MUC….. why even bother with Berlin out of PHL when You refuse To Compete? This Mgmnt Team Surprised Us Time And again and I really Question their Vision for The Airline.

  8. CLT – MUC with an A330-200 to compete with the daily Lufthansa A330-300? That doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense… What is AA connecting to from MUC, there isn’t really a lot of OneWorld options there! Plus the German businesses here in NC and SC probably have long standing global carrier contracts with LH already. This one is a head scratcher.

  9. All I can say as a former TWA employee we were the best without ever trying . What is wrong with American they are the worst in the way they treat people and retirees. Gone are the days of civilized travel

  10. Try and find a savers reward ticket on flight to Japan in Business class. NONE Can get one from Japan to USA but not USA to Japan. AA is not releasing

  11. I really would like to know what the stock holders from AA,think about all these so SMART CHANGES,out of NY ,out CHICAGO ,767 fall apart from PHL flying to Europe ,they are going not for great !!!

  12. I really would like to know what the stock holders from AA,think about all these so SMART CHANGES,out of NY ,out CHICAGO ,767 fall apart from PHL flying to Europe ,they are going not for great !!!

  13. X2 to what CLTflyer said. Chugalug Dug sold out Falling Star when he bought AA & LH called his bluff. Been doing quite well.

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