American Airlines Lays Out Brand New International Flight Strategy

United Airlines is more reliant on international flights than other big U.S. airlines. They are out today with an expansion of their international route network for August.

On Saturday I told you that one was coming from American that’s much broader including, quoting internal comments by CEO Doug Parker, “what we plan to fly next summer and what we don’t plan to fly.” That announcement is now out.

They’re revamping their international strategic focus, and bringing back many routes for summer while break-even load factors are so low thanks to the CARES Act. LAX is no longer their Pacific hub. They’re doubling down on close partnerships. And that means a lot of flight changes.

The airline will use Dallas, not LAX, as their primary transpacific hub and Miami remains focal for Latin. They are pulling back some flying from both Philadelphia (their main European gateway) and Charlotte.

Routes killed:

  • Philadelphia: They won’t fly Philadelphia – Casablanca after all, and are killing Philadelphia – Berlin, Budapest, and Dubrovnik.
  • Charlotte: Killing Barcelona, Rome, and Paris
  • Dallas Fort-Worth: Dropping Munich
  • LAX: takes a beating, dropping China flights Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai and they’re also dropping Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. Hong Kong was relatively cheap to operate because they needed two planes to operate to and from Dallas, adding LAX took only one additional aircraft. The future there then is seen as really grim.
  • Miami: loses Brasilia and Milan
  • Chicago O’Hare: has been a weak international city for American, scaling back, and it will lose a chunk of its summer leisure Europe – Budapest, Krakow, Prague, and Venice. Budapest, Prague and Krakow were supposed to be new routes.

Leaning into their British Airways joint venture they anticipate a full Heathrow schedule by summer 2021. They’ll also double down on their Alaska Airlines partnership, still planning to launch Seattle – Bangalore and seeking to move LAX-Shanghai to Seattle.

The airline also announced the following service resumptions or launch of previously planned new routes:

Origin Destination Schedule change
Charlotte (CLT) Frankfurt (FRA) Service resumes summer 2021
CLT London (LHR) Service resumes winter 2020
CLT Munich (MUC) Service resumes winter 2020
Chicago (ORD) Barcelona (BCN) Service resumes summer 2021
ORD Dublin (DUB) Service resumes summer 2021
ORD Paris (CDG) Service resumes summer 2021
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Beijing (PEK) Service resumes summer 2021
DFW Buenos Aires (EZE) Service resumes winter 2020
DFW Lima (LIM) Service resumes winter 2020
DFW Sao Paulo (GRU) Service resumes winter 2020
DFW Rome (FCO) Service resumes summer 2021
DFW Santiago (SCL) Service resumes summer 2021
DFW Tel Aviv (TLV) Service launches winter 2021
Los Angeles (LAX) Auckland (AKL) Service launches winter 2021
LAX LHR Service resumes winter 2020
LAX Sydney (SYD) Service resumes summer 2021
New York (JFK) CDG Service resumes winter 2020
JFK BCN Service resumes summer 2021
JFK EZE Service resumes winter 2020
JFK Rio de Janeiro (GIG) Service resumes winter 2021
JFK GRU Service resumes winter 2020
JFK Madrid (MAD) Service resumes summer 2021
JFK Milan (MXP) Service resumes summer 2021
Miami (MIA) CDG Service resumes summer 2021
MIA GIG Service resumes winter 2020
MIA GRU Service resumes Aug. 6, 2020
MIA MAD Service resumes summer 2021
MIA SCL Service resumes Aug. 5, 2020
Philadelphia (PHL) Amsterdam (AMS) Service resumes winter 2020
PHL DUB Service resumes winter 2020
PHL LHR Service resumes winter 2020
PHL Manchester (MAN) Service resumes summer 2021
PHL MAD Service resumes winter 2020
PHL CDG Service resumes summer 2021
PHL FCO Service resumes summer 2021
PHL Zurich (ZRH) Service resumes summer 2021
Phoenix (PHX) LHR Service resumes winter 2020
Raleigh (RDU) LHR Service resumes winter 2020
Seattle (SEA) Bangalore (BLR) Service launches winter 2021
SEA LHR Service launches summer 2021
SEA Shanghai (PVG) New service subject to government approval

Miami – São Paulo and Santiago are two routes I told you on Saturday to expect. Neither route is expected to have a lot of passenger demand. Currently Brazil passenger arrivals into the U.S. are restricted. American’s bet is that a low level of passenger demand, supplemented by a bit of cargo, will make the flights work. Remember that the airline is already paying for its planes, and thanks to the CARES Act is paying its crews through September 30 so the cost of incremental flying is mostly just fuel. Break-even load factor is low right now.

American also announced that change fee waivers for new ticket purchases are extended through July 31 excluding Basic Economy and award tickets. New more expensive AAdvantage change fees go into effect today.

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. Well thats an interesting readjustment however be it AA or UA what is published today may not be there tomorrow. All of this is a moving target however one has to start somewhere. Looks like the AS partnership just became very important to AA let us hope they will open up more to us AS flyers, as to date AA reward offering to us sucks.

  2. Philippine Airline has a presence in SEA, that would help with connecting traffic in both directions for AA and could lead to partnership with Alaska.

    Wonder how long itll take AA to tell me my LAX-HKG flight is canceled and what the rebooking will look like.

  3. Gary, Will AA rebook cancelled or delayed resumption flights on One World carriers (like BA) on award tix?

  4. SEA – PVG is the highlight of this announcement. As an Alaska loyal pax I like.this partnership with AA . Definitely cant wait for the BLR and PVG . AA will not exit LAX completely for sure they gonna be stronger domestic feeder for their pax and for 1 world airlines . AA and BA itself got nearly 8 mode service LHR QR..JL..QF etc

  5. It’s gonna be a mess. Without the 757s and 767s, AA has NO plan on how to fly to secondary markets. No plan.

  6. This makes a great deal of sense. Looks like JFK/LGA; BOS; and LAX are focused on local traffic; key international destinations and OneWorld partnerships. PHL; CLT; MIA; DFW; ORD and PHX are the true hubs in the AA system now. PHX has been growing of late (mostly mainline) as the tech and financial industries are booming here and so is the population. That being said once COVID-19 is back under control AA’s strategy is to focus on profitability and leveraging their JV/OneWorld partners makes sense. UA and DL have to expand long haul faster since that was where they put all their eggs with the US secondary. DL’s partners are in the worst shape (3 already bankrupt) and will be shells of their former selves. AA can handle the Americans (north and south) without partner support (although GOL will be grow and a plus in S. America) and JAL; IAG; Qatar; Qantas and China Southern will be around for the long haul verses the “Virgins”.

    AA is finally getting out from under the US Air/Scott Kirby shadow and making smart moves for the future. Focusing on profits and a better service. . .something DL used to due.

  7. Hmmm…the table above indicates JFK -> CDG will resume “winter 2020” but ITA Matrix shows those flights commencing August 5 and continuing uninterrupted. Do you suspect the changes listed just haven’t been loaded into AA’s schedule yet?

  8. @Jim- I believe that the change in the restart date of JFK-CDG hasn’t been loaded into the system yet. I think winter 2020 means the IATA winter season that starts around the end of October.

  9. Way too much “Fortress Dallas” in this plan.

    Dallas is not an appropriate Pacific gateway. All those west coasters wanting to go to Asia will have to fly east to Dallas to fly west to their overseas destination. LAX should be that gateway.

    Nor is Dallas a good departure point for AA’s only flight to Madrid for the near future. I’m guessing there are other European destinations that are only being served from Dallas, but I don’t have a list of flights that they are already flying. AA should use one of their four east coast hubs (JFK, PHL, CLT, MIA) for Europe. None of us east coasters want to fly three hours west to Dallas to catch a flight back east to Europe. It will be faster to fly United, Delta, or a European carrier and make the connection within Europe.

    The Dallas focus of this plan shows lack of strategic thinking.

  10. So CLT is now a domestic and Caribbean hub. I will have to up my DL/Flying Blue game. I am lifetime platinum there, and anytime I go to Europe in the future (with a big IF and WHEN) that seems to be a better service level/connection then my forced PHL/JFK/DAL/MIA connection. Shame…

  11. @Joe: if it isn’t mentioned it isn’t on the cards any time soon. Europe in general is “closed” for US visitors for now, and when that changes (who knows when) demand will be tepid, and MAD will be serviced from other locations (PHL, DAL). CLT to MAD will be through LHR – as and when – and perhaps you will connect on the dreaded Vueling…

  12. With Covid-19 still very much unconstrained in the US and countries banning or restricting US travelers, it seems hard to predict what future demand will be for domestic routes much less international ones. Restarting service to Brazil in August is questionable.

    It is great that AA and AS are solidifying the partnership. But just a year ago AA wanted a divorce. Now they have seen the light? Abandoning LAX international routes is a mistake. It is going to be hard to compete in Asia flying from DFW. The routes are longer which means higher costs and longer flights. When DL has SEA, PDX and LAX, and UA has SFO they can beat AA on cost and flight time. Trading LAX Tom Bradley Terminal for SEA South Satellite terminal is a big loss in terms of lounges and just about everything else. And to the extent AA relies on partners rather than its own metal, that means no SWU upgrade opportunities on those flights. Instead of funneling traffic to SEA to connect to Oneworld partners why not do the reverse. There are many more Oneworld flights out of LAX.

    Next thing you know AA will be treating LAX the way it treated JFK. Once AS joins Oneworld this new strategy will be one more big incentive to switch to AS.

  13. I have to say that I find Mr. Leff’s posts more insightful and informative than perhaps some of the items he posted in the past. Thank you for laying out the information clearly, and for placing it in context; very helpful.

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