American Airlines is launching 7 new year-round routes out of Austin and 3 seasonal routes. American is the second largest carrier at the Austin airport, behind Southwest, and historically it has produced some of their highest non-hub yields. With these additions, together with their partners they’ll service 26 destinations from Austin.
- Year-round: Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, Tampa and Washington-Dulles.
- Saturday seasonal: Aspen (June 5 – September 4), Los Cabos and Destin-Fort Walton Beach (both June 5 – August 14).
These routes break down as 5 mainline and 5 regional. Here’s the equipment:
American has already been flying Austin – Orlando as Saturday service recently, so that route isn’t entirely new, but daily service will be.
In addition American will launch new codeshares with Alaska Airlines: Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle as well as Alaska’s newly announced Boise flight (all of Alaska’s Austin routes except San Jose which American plans to fly).
Barbara Jordan Terminal, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
New Markets, Great Opportunities
Note that Nashville is a focus city Delta is dropping. Las Vegas is heavy leisure which is where the business is at now. Raleigh is a focus city Delta is keeping. And Washington Dulles has always been a market where American had an unexploited opportunity: they have a huge customer base in the DC area because of their dominant position at National airport, but they cannot serve much of the country from National because of the perimeter rule. Austin is a mere 65 miles beyond the perimeter.
While split operations in a single city are tough, it’s been the norm in New York (New York JFK, LaGuardia, Newark) and they already have some level of service to all 3 D.C. area airports. Growing at Dulles makes sense, both because it opens new markets their customers currently have to go elsewhere to buy and because this one in particular connects two strong tech hubs.
To be sure, route planning right now is guesswork as we watch travel hopefully return and the virus recede this summer. Leisure travelers trump business travelers but some business will return. And the pandemic is resetting much of the game board, giving airlines an opportunity to stake out new ground where they previously weren’t likely to be able to operate due to lack of gate space or planes.
Historically current management has avoided competing against other airlines, and flew very few routes that weren’t to or from a hub. Austin isn’t a hub – but it is a satellite crew base. It will fly to numerous non-hub cities going forward, whatever going forward means in this new world of course. Route planning and scheduling began honing their skills pulling flights down from sale quickly with the grounding first of the Boeing 737-800 Oasis planes converted at ATS, the MRO at Paine Field, followed by the grounding of the 737 MAX. Now they put those skills to work adjusting on the fly to changing patterns that follow the virus.
Departures Level, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
A Formidable Three-Way Partnership In Austin
American is adding back service that they’d planned to launch to Boston and San Jose, at least according to their published schedules. In fact, the combined presence in Austin for American with their partners JetBlue and Alaska is going to be really significant.
June certainly isn’t finalized, and may be optimistic, but Covid could significantly decline making current schedules real. According to data from Cirium Diio, American, JetBlue and Alaska plan to fly in June:
- JetBlue: Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, New York JFK, Los Angeles, Orlando, Raleigh, San Francisco, and Cancun
- Alaska: Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose plus Boise starting June 17.
- American: Boston, Charlotte, Dallas – Fort Worth, New York JFK, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Jose – plus flights once loaded to Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Raleigh, Tampa and Washington Dulles and Aspen, Los Cabos and Fort Walton, Florida.
Of course Alaska Airlines is a better integrated partnership than JetBlue. Alaska is even joining oneworld. So you can earn and redeem miles and earn elite qualifying miles on Alaska flights, codeshare or not. Not so with JetBlue where so far benefits are limited to codeshares, and initially American limited its codesharing with JetBlue to New York JFK only. (Cancun and Fort Lauderdale, for instance, aren’t part of the Northeastern alliance either – so no reciprocal benefits on those flights yet.)
Austin Is The Perfect Place To Grow
Austin and Nashville have consistently been among the fastest growing airports in the country for 7 years. Just before the pandemic Austin opened 9 new gates, increasing its gate capacity by over a third. Austin served 17.3 million passengers in 2019 which is on par with Dallas Love Field and Nashville and ahead of St. Louis.
The airport was even on the verge of awarding a contract for an American Express-Escape Lounge right before the pandemic. There’s a gorgeous new Delta lounge and public outdoor deck as well.
American has for years put off plans for expansion of its Admirals Club into the office space behind the back of the lounge, and in the Before Times at peak periods you couldn’t find a seat there – despite turning the entryway of the lounge as well as the conference space into guest seating.
Austin is a focus city for Delta but Delta remains the number three carrier at the airport behind American and Southwest.
There were 1327 live music performances in 2019, and airport restaurants served 1.6 million breakfast tacos and 71,798 pounds of brisket.