American Airlines Will Drop New York JFK-Doha, Add Service From Philadelphia

American Airlines has stopped selling its New York JFK – Doha flight after October 28th. This flight is how American shuttles passengers to places like Lahore, Islamabad, and Dhaka – connecting them onto Qatar Airways.

The Qatar Airways codeshare has grown significantly since it was announced prior to the pandemic. Nearly 20% of arriving Qatar passengers connect in the U.S. onto Americn Airlines flights, and more than 175,000 American Airlines passengers have connected onto Qatar aircraft.

But American’s circumstances have changed in New York, and they’ll be shifting Doha flights to their Philadelphia hub starting October 29. American tells me,

As part of a continuous evaluation of our network, American Airlines will shift its Doha service from New York to Philadelphia starting Oct. 29. This new nonstop PHL-DOH service will offer connections from more than 80 destinations across North America to Doha. As part of American’s partnership with Qatar Airways, customers can connect in Doha to destinations across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. We’re proactively reaching out to customers affected by the change to offer alternate travel arrangements.

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha – Worth A Visit

In April I wrote that I did not expect American to drop New York JFK – Doha because of their Northeast Alliance with JetBlue. While JetBlue wasn’t so much providing connecting passengers to this flight, the two airlines had agreed with the Department of Transportation to grow the number of departing seats from New York as part gaining government approval for the partnership. If they failed to grow seats – and the Boeing 777-300ER to Doha is 304 seats – they would be required to give up additional slots.

Now that the Northeast Alliance is unwinding as a result of JetBlue’s decision not to challenge the Department of Justice district court victory in its anti-trust suit against the deal, they no longer face loss of slots when pulling back capacity in New York. While American will receive slots back from JetBlue that had been transferred to them as part of the Northeast Alliance, the Dallas-based carrier can operate regional jets to Baltimore if they wish (one way they squatted on New York JFK slots before the pandemic).

Philadelphia is American’s traditional transatlantic connect gateway (and US Airways’ before that). American and Qatar offer bilateral benefits that go beyond what’s part of the oneworld alliance (though American doesn’t consider Qatar a ‘seamless partner’). Their close partnership won’t end with the end of New York JFK – Doha service. Currently Qatar itself flies New York JFK – Doha twice daily, and operates out of Philadelphia with one daily trip.

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. Do we know what aircraft will fly this route? I suspect it is going to have to be a 787-8 or -9 based on the crew base at PHL, but I guess they could rotate in other crews and aircraft like they do at RDU.

  2. This totally makes sense. The QA flight out of PHL is almost always full and connects to the US much better then JFK does. I think AA should consider this strategy:
    PHL – Atlantic Hub
    MIA – Caribbean/Central/South American Hub
    DFW – Global / Pacific Hub
    ORD / CLT / PHX – Regional US Hubs with some key international / oneworld flights
    JFK – LAX and add in BOS Destination Hubs – Key US and international service / oneworld partners connections and originating traffic.
    LGA – DCA – Regional Hubs only, no international (useless you can get XLR to LHR in the future)
    SEA/SFO/AUS – Focus cities with one world partner Alaska

    This is a model for success and $$ IMO

  3. Makes perfect business sense. PHL is both better for feeding traffic and also for US connections on inbound flights than JFK.

  4. If feeder traffic is what they are going after then CLT makes much more sense. Unless they intend to rebuild PHL back to its former glory after cutting multiple routes and banks.

  5. PHL-DOH currently goes out with 80%-85% loads and I’ve heard it’s QR’s weakest yielding route in their North American network. Now there’s double capacity? I think it’s overkill and it’s going to kill yields. Somethings going to give.

  6. CLT does not have the international gate capacity to support much growth. And, while it serves as a good connecting point for routes up and down the east coast and from the SE to points west. CLT is not optimal for TATL flight, especially if you are trying to capture connecting pax from the northeast. Most people are not terribly fond of doubling back on a connection.

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised to see QR cancel their PHL-DOH route and rely on AA exclusively for this route. They’ve already done the same with Finnair on HEL – DOH and Iberia on MAD – DOH.

    Beyond this, I find AA’s strategy here troubling. Many passengers connecting in PHL will also be connecting again in DOH. Outside of regional cities no one will pay a premium for a two-stop itinerary.

  8. @Daniel Who would pay for premium on any U.S. carrier period? Anywhere? Other than Govt employees and those forced to due to contracts.

    The reality is that a significant amount of traffic is in and out of India through DOH. It’s heavily leaning to economy passengers, many originating in India and paying really cheap fares. PHL will just serve as a new shuttle stop for Indians spreading out to the communities around the country. It’s cheaper and easier for AA to operate a flight there and funnel them through. JFK is too expensive and premium passengers there are simply never going to book AA. They know better. Nor do they have the same connectivity as in JFK now.

  9. @Stuart Yes, that’s my point. AA isn’t going to make money on this route. Relying on cheap fares for long haul flights is a bad strategy. Airlines need premium fares to make money, especially on long routes like this.

    AA should be able to find a more profitable use for their aircraft. The fact that it seemingly cannot is concerning.

  10. I fly at least twice a year to Bangladesh using Qater Airlines from JFK but I would never fly from Philly. I could still fly from LGA to Philly to Doha and then to Dhaka..but it will add one more stop and will add minimum of 4 hours of additional time. Total Nonsense. I would even say it is a crime.
    Switching JFK to Philly ..? Insane…!!!

  11. This is a good sign for the opening of the long delayed Flagship Lounge at PHL, which is supposedly still under construction.

  12. @Evan – AA has made no effort to finish the FL in PHL… despite having 2 flights a day to LHR and the other TATL destinations. Adding one 789 to DOH isn’t likely to spur AA to finish it. I hope I’m proven wrong. At least I have the Amex lounge. Crowded, but better sooo much better than the Admiral’s Club.

  13. JFK was American’s traditional transatlantic gateway hub and that was why AA poured a large chunk of money into making the JFK T8 plant for itself when it did even after 9/11 had just hit.

    Philadelphia was USAirway’s traditional TATL gateway hub.

  14. My 2c is that when you factor in the ME 3 airlines in total; @JFK you have all three with >1 flight a day. Other stations where there is less ME3 total presence, flips like this may work.

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