American Airlines Explains Its Strategy Picking 5 New International Routes

It’s a little bit anti-climactic since I wrote yesterday what the 5 new American Airlines international routes would be but they’ve announced it.

  • Philadelphia to Copenhagen (Boeing 787-9), Nice (Boeing 787-9) and Naples (Boeing 787-8)
  • Chicago to Venice (Boeing 787-8)
  • Dallas to Barcelona (Boeing 777-200)

These flights will be loaded for sale with the weekend schedule update, and available Sunday morning August 20.

While this is a buildup in seasonal Europe, it’s a way to give transpacific winter jets a place to go as Senior Vice President of Network Brian Znotins explains.

About 90 planes run year-round to the same market, 20 planes that pair with a South Pacific or South America in the winter, and about 12 that pair with winter maintenance. They didn’t add European destinations last summer because of Boeing delivery delays (and because they had a shortage of planes, having retired their fleets of Boeing 757s, 767s, and Airbus A330s).

He explains that Philadelphia gives more single connections to competitors than other Copenhagen, Nice and Naples flights. Philadelphia – not New York – gets growth with this announcement, and that follows moving New York JFK – Doha to Philadelphia. Znotins describes Philadelphia as a connecting hub, versus New York as a focus for local traffic. (This was true even with the Northeast Alliance, by the way, where most traffic was still local – not connections off of JetBlue – the partnership had mostly allowed both airlines to sell more flights.)

There’s also more winter Mexico and Caribbean flying in this announcement.

American is not launching any prestige routes, or anything especially bold or surprising. Summer seasonal Europe from Philadelphia is the most American Airlines thing ever. They don’t have the planes to run routes that require more than one aircraft. And their primary focus has been domestic connections in recent years, rather than non-stop long haul. They’re also still light on premium seating, outside of their Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, having removed business class seats from planes (which Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja decried even five years ago).

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  1. PHL-Copenhagen/Nice/Naples for the cruise type crowd nowadays. Seems a very American thing to do, after seeing what it is doing with CUN.

    Maybe next summer’s CPH-US-CPH prices in economy class will cost me less than the $450 it was during peak summer dates this year on airlines in the big 3 airline alliances.

  2. Nice to see AA adding some international flights and maybe more coming as Boeing and Airbus deliver them more planes. However still way behind DL and UA (except for Caribbean and Central America).

    Pre COVID I flew AA DFW-Iceland, PHL-Dubrovnik and MIA-Cordoba Argentina. All were great trips and was planning to take the PHL-Morocco flight. Sad that not sure when, if ever, routes like these will be flown by AA

  3. In 2019, AA announced a Flagship Lounge in PHL that was supposed to open in 2020. Covid happened, but the Flagship lounge is still not open (with no status updates whatsoever).

    For 4 years now, PHL’s international terminal hasn’t even had an Admiral’s Club active in it. Passengers either need to use the Admirals Club in another terminal or somehow finagle access into the British Air or Centurion Lounges.

    Positioning PHL into an international hub while having no lounges in its international terminal is the most AA thing ever.

  4. If they want to make PHL the cornerstone of their TATL strategy they need to have have better connections and better equipment to SFO, LAX, SEA. They probably don’t have enough A321s to pull this off.

  5. Pathetic. AA a company headed to the circular bin.
    Best idea yet of tripling the requirements for FF flights over Atlantic or Pacific.

    Do not save your miles, just about worthless now.

  6. It never ceases to amaze me, the shortsightedness of AA’s management. The largest chip manufacturing industry buildup in the world is under construction in Phoenix and it is still virtually impossible to get to anywhere outside of the US without a stopover. Phoenix is the fourth largest city in the US and the fifth largest airport.
    Wake up and start making money. The travel availability void is immeasurable in PHX.
    Or, don’t.

  7. Wish someone……anyone other than BA would fly out of BNA to almost anywhere in Europe without going west before going East..

  8. Pre-Covid there were LGA- PHL flights for connections onward, but no more. But now you can’t get to PHL from LGA or JFK, without a connection through BOS or CLT or ? So AA is writing off the NYC market for its PHL TATL flights? Plus the lounge issue noted by others.

  9. Go where the money is, good choices on the Europe side.

    I wonder how many West Coast passengers are willing to book connections via east coast hubs like PHL, JFK, EWR and IAD? This probably works for the cheapo economy seats, but I have to think most biz class passengers are loathe to add hours at crappy hubs to their itineraries. So I guess AA (and DL) are basically ceding the West Coast to UA and the Euro carriers.

    I can’t imagine there is sufficient O/D traffic from Philly, but maybe they can funnel enough East Coast folks into the hub.

  10. This business class traveler is unwilling to voluntarily spend time at their substandard and uninteresting PHL “hub”, and connect to the west coast with ancient legacy-US aircraft.

  11. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

  12. What about New Yorkers who want to fly to these new European cities on AA? Will AA bring back PHL-NYC flights?

  13. “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Seneca the Younger

  14. Theresa,

    Amtrak/NJ Transit+SEPTA can get people from NYC/NJ over to PHL. It’s not better than when I used to do LGA-PHL and go onwards by air that way, but it’s possible to take ground transport to get to PHL to fly out. I wouldn’t generally recommend it, but it is an option for some. And American seems fine with making NYC-area traffic connect at LHR for all these European destinations anyway.

  15. When will AA start non-stops to PHL from the dozens of small mid-West cities that now travel to ORD and then connect to PHL for their trans-Atlantic flights? I can connect on UA at ORD for an overseas flight, but AA requires one to connect to PHL. Because AA isn’t offering the amount of overseas destinations that UA does at ORD.

  16. Andy B: nearly everything You said about PHX is completely wrong. Pheonix (city) is the 5th most populous in the US. The MSA is actually 10th (what really counts is the surrounding area, not city limits of the main city). The airport is actually only the 12th busiest in the US, AND dropped 3 places from last year. PHX is alot of local traffic, seasonal traffic by way of connections (LV, TUS, PS, etc). The last and MAIN thing You need to realize is that PHX is at a higher elevation that most major airports (okay, so what, Denver and others are higher) But the MAIN issue is the temperature. That requires A LOT of extra fuel. So much so that in the summers they would probably have to block off many rows of seats and leave them empty, and or luggage would be refused and left there. They can make it work for short haul/close in international flights. But your not going to see far off places from PHX probably EVER. Especially with “climelate change”. Not to mention the fact that PHX has really been a vacation/tourism/snow bird/service/resort/golf economy (besides all the call centers and odd ball employers). Not like TSMC is going to need much regular traffic between PHX and Taiwan for longer than a couple years. They can make 1 stop in LAX or SF and get there just a fine. I get it, as much as I root for Fort Worth and DFW, I also realize that we can’t support year round flights to Geneva or Johannesburg for example. PHX has never been and International gateway and never will be beyond Mexico /Cruise Ship destinations.

  17. Bonnie: Have fun wishing! No one will add anything to Europe from Nashville. BA IS the European gateway flight. Period. Move somewhere else. Yes, Nashville and Austin have major growth numbers. They are still small potatoes comparatively. You’ll get flights to all inclusive resort/timeshare places and cruise ship ports. That’s it.

  18. Thank you, GUWonder and Gregg. Just saw that AA will bring back PHL-LGA flights as of 10-29-23,
    2 flights per day in each direction. Hope PHL-JFK flights are in the cards, but not holding my breath.

  19. @JohnB : and that’s hardly news – AA has let ORD and PHX “rot on the vine” for quite some time now – I mean AA bidding for Las Vegas – Tokyo Haneda instead of either ORD or PHX tells you plenty what’s considered Naught Worth to Fort Worth

  20. What is happening with BOS and AA. So much potential but they have the worst flights while other international airlines thrive and delta crushes it yea round.

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