American Airlines Adds Flights to Tel Aviv, Africa, and Eastern Europe

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.

Hub City Frequency Aircraft Season
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.

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. oh please do you really expect the worthless Dallas airline based in the trashy Trumpian state of Texas to actually tell the truth about their previous TLV pull out ? bwhhahahahhaha

  2. The Chicago to Eastern Europe flights are a good idea. I wish American would dedicate more resources to Chicago and New York JFK, two airports they have neglected since the merger.

    I don’t understand the logic of flying to Tel Aviv from Dallas when New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Miami (and even Chicago) would seem to make more sense. The explanation about reaching evangelical Christian passengers would apply to Charlotte and Miami as well as it does to Dallas.

    Why would they stop the seasonal service to Casablanca in the first week of September? Most US airlines with summer seasonal flights schedule them through the end of September and often through the end of October.

  3. no irony lost on the airline that instead of flying the most logical TLV flight from JFK airport, they chose the town notorious for the assassination of JFK himself.

  4. Flying to TLV from DFW instead of JFK is nothing short of bizarre. TLV is a major business destination, but for the sorts of businesses (i.e., finance, tech, legal, pharma, accounting) that are based near JFK, not DFW. This seems to essentially guarantee that the flight will appeal mostly to cost conscious tourists instead of the higher spending business customers that have been a gravy-train for UA. It’s also another in a long and growing list of common business destinations from JFK which AA doesn’t serve, but their competitors do — so why continue to invest in AAdvantage status when the only way to get to so many places is via UA or DL?

    I guess one way to run an airline is to recede in the face of competition, rather than taking a stand and competing for customers’ business, but sooner or later there are just no more places to recede from and your whole business is from dying cities like Philadelphia (remember when UA had a hub in Cleveland) or inconveniently located secondary cities like Dallas.

  5. @Mak there’s plenty of NY-TLV service, and AA doesn’t like to compete. There’s tech in Texas that’ll use the flight, not just christian mission trips. But I do foresee a lot of Tulsa and Waco passengers.

  6. @Mak “secondary cities” like Dallas?! Are you from the US? DFW is the 4th largest metro are in the country. It is also poised to pass Chicagoland as the 3rd largest metro area by the end of the coming decade. Maybe educate yourself before disparaging certain cities and their surrounding areas.

    Also – 3 of the Fortune 10 companies (including McKesson/pharma) are based in the Dallas area. Give me a break. Typical East Coast elitism.

  7. Do you expect Aadvantage to still consider Morocco to be in Africa? Which chart will be used when transiting CMN to go to EU ?

  8. As Gary noted DFW is huge for tech (plus feeds Dell from Austin) so good match w Israeli tech companies.

    On Berlin, Bologna and Dubrovnik first 2 are going away in 2020 (was in original release) but Dubrovnik is good for now (on that flight in 2 weeks).

    Finally (and a nit) these cities are really in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe. Too many Americans seem to think Europe ended at the border of the old USSR and that just isn’t the case. I know from experience that most people in Poland, Czech Repubic, Croatia, etc do not like being referred to as Eastern Europe

  9. NY and Miami don’t exist for american ,is only dalllas ,what a smart decision !!!!!

  10. The new AA routes make sense, with the possible exception of DFW-TLV. It’s hard for me to understand how DFW-TLV could be profitable for them while PHL-TLV would not be. There are 4x as many Jews in Philly as in the Dallas area. PHL is AA’s primary transatlantic gateway, and the geographical advantage of flying from there to Israel is obvious. Yes, there is more competition to TLV from the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, but PHL currently has the largest Jewish community in the world without nonstop service to Israel. DFW-TLV strikes me as the type of flight you’d add if PHL-TLV was profitable!

  11. Miami is a HUGE hub for AA for Latin America. DFW doesn’t even have a nonstop to Panama…yet Miami has THREE. I don’t know what Cesar is thinking.

  12. Welcome back to Africa. However, regarding the Air Maroc map of African destinations, I don’t know how current it is as they suspended flights to Nairobi in March 2019.

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