American Airlines Announces New Doha Flight, Lacks Planes To Fly Its 2022 International Schedule

New long haul routes are exciting! American Airlines will fly from New York to Doha this summer. That’s great for AAdvantage elites looking for an upgrade. For most others, Qatar Airways remains the better airline of choice.

They’re adding this flight at a time they’re announcing they lack enough widebody aircraft to fly their summer Europe schedule, so they’re cancelling plans for many flights. They’re blaming Boeing’s production problems, and ignoring the decisions they made during the pandemic that put them in this bind.

American Airlines Will Fly To Doha

American Airlines is launching New York JFK – Doha in June. With American’s codesharing relationship with oneworld member Qatar Airways this lets them sell many destinations in Africa, India and the surrounding region through the Gulf.

Doha, by the way, is worth a couple of days’ stopover to visit the Museum of Islamic Art, the last I.M. Pei building. He rejected all proposed sites and the museum was built on an artificial space over water. The building itself is art, and the collection of items from everyday life is impressive.

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

American’s partnership with Qatar Airways – an about-face for an airline that had been lobbying the U.S. government to restrict Qatar Airways access to the U.S. despite treaty commitmentswas announced in February 2020. The pandemic delayed the flight but hasn’t scuttled it.

Who Would Ever Choose American’s Doha Service?

It’s a bit odd for American Airlines to fly to Doha, when they partner with Qatar Airways – which offers a much better inflight experience. The incentives to do so much be strong.

From seats to service to food Qatar Airways simply outshines most airlines but the difference with the American Airlines experience is stark. That said, it will make sense for some customers to fly American Airlines over Qatar on the New York JFK – Doha route.

  • Those looking to upgrades to business class with AAdvantage miles or systemwides
  • When it’s a whole lot cheaper to fly American (and upgrades are a specific case of this)
  • Someone who might purchase premium economy but not business class, since Qatar doesn’t offer a premium economy product
  • Someone with a corporate contract who’s stuck on American metal (indeed American will presumably pick up government travel on the route that’s subsidized by the Fly America Act)

Qatar Airways Business Class

American Says They Lack Enough Planes To Operate A Full International Schedule

American Airlines is adding Doha as a long haul destination at a time when they say they lack the aircraft to fly to many of their previous destinations for summer 2022. American is exiting the Hong Kong market entirely

Continued delivery delays of Boeing 787 aircraft have provided unique challenges in planning international flying months in advance. As a result, American will not resume service to Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI), or Shannon, Ireland (SNN), in 2022. And as demand remains soft in Asia, American is discontinuing service to Hong Kong (HKG).

American has also adjusted operations on some existing Asia and South America routes and reduced frequencies, allowing the airline to offer more options to customers next summer.

In fact they’re dropping Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Prague; reducing flights to Shanghai, Beijing and
Sydney; and pushing back launch of Seattle – Bangalore.

American ordered more 787s in 2018. They report being 13 aircraft behind in deliveries. They were supposed to get additional 787-9s starting in 2023. They’ve been designing new business class cabins for incoming 787s and new Airbus A321XLRs. Saddled with more debt than competitors American is open to more planes if they’re cheap enough and to buy aircraft as they begin growing again.

However production problems at Boeing have led to delays and American hasn’t been getting the flow of aircraft they’ve expected. They’re blaming reductions in service on Boeing. American expects a financial settlement from Boeing as there was for the 737 MAX grounding.

The Lack Of Aircraft Is More American’s Fault Than Boeing’s

It isn’t really true that American ‘doesn’t have’ the widebodies to operate the schedule they’d like. They do have the planes. And the lack of aircraft is as much their fault as Boeing’s.

During the pandemic they retired their Boeing 757s and 767s. They retired their Embraer E-190s. And they retired their Airbus A330s. This simplified the fleet. It means they don’t have to train pilots on as many planes, or pay for spare parts on all of these aircraft. But it means they have far fewer planes.

Some of the planes they sold, for instance 767s that now fly for Amazon’s delivery service. American is still paying leases, though, on the Airbus A330s they retired. Pilots are no longer current to fly the planes, but there’d be time to get them ready for summer 2022. American has decided it’s too expensive to return the planes to service.

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. I would love for the Board to review A330 retirement of these 7-15 year old aircraft. Parker is waving goodbye but Isom will continue to lead. Paying leases for parked planes becomes even dumber when you are forced to cut service because of delayed 787 deliveries ($290 million list). I wouldn’t be surprised if Parker did a Halloween sketch from the movie “Dumb & dumber”

  2. Friends don’t let friends fly American. Beyond that, this shows:

    1) Hong Kong is irrelevant these days. It has been usurped by Singapore, Shanghai and, to a lesser extent, the Gulf city-states.
    2) United is the ONLY US-flagged airline with a reliable and market-leading Asia-Pacific route network. Delta and American are MIA.
    3) With respect to Qatar, I suspect Delta has a HUGE contract with the US government for the Doha flights.

  3. @Bill – When you say that Isom will continue to lead, that implies that Parker was a leader, which he was not. Parker is a nice guy who’s been completely out of his depth for many years and leadership was simply not in his playbook. He was a (bad) manager at US and AA though, unfortunately for customers and employees.

  4. So any guess as to when AA will tell me that my flight to EDI next May in J has been cancelled? Last time this happened they never told me and I found out when I logged in randomly to that my round trip flight to Italy was now a one-way (AA had trimmed its VCE schedule from 7 days per week to 5 and simply cancelled my return home since they weren’t flying from VCE that day). I asked the CSR when I called in whether AA thought I might care that I had no way home and was met with silence. I was offered to return via BA with their ridiculous cash surcharge and was told there was no way AA would waive that surcharge even though they created the problem. LT Plat here.

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