At this month’s American Airlines employee question and answer session with senior executives, the airline’s downward spiral in New York came up. The response to this was “We do love New York, I know it doesn’t seem like that with what we’ve done.”
Two major excuses were offered why American flies less to New York than they did:
- They blamed the reduction in New York flying on runway construction at New York JFK, but Delta and JetBlue didn’t pull down their flying. The runway is an excuse – they could reduce flying without giving up their slots, so they stopped squatting slots. But the runway is now back online.
- And then there’s the MAX grounding that gets blamed for the reduction, but American decided which flights to drop and those disproportionately centered on New York JFK. They suggested that’s because of the transcons flown from New York, but they killed the second Austin flight too and they dropped about 20 routes from New York before the MAX was grounded.
They boast “all 777s” long haul international from New York (‘product does matter’) but limiting themselves to 777s for long haul itself limits their ability to serve destinations that cannot support such a large airraft.
By reducing flying out of New York, American becomes less relevant to New Yorkers and has fewer customers to support the flying that’s left. Fewer flights make it harder to sell corporate agreements too. The reverse effect of a hub happens as you de-scale. And that means American becomes less relevant to the wallets of New Yorkers, making it harder for Citibank and Barclays to attract cardmember spend for the American Airlines co-brand – which is the biggest driver of profitability for the airline.