American has come out with a bunch of announcements today, exciting news under the rubric of new routes and a timeline for new seats. I had the chance to talk to American’s Vice Presdent of Network Planning Chuck Schubert about the moves.
American is launching two new routes from Dallas to Asia: Hong Kong and Shanghai.
They’re applying for authority for daily flights to each, and flight times may ultimately change.
- Dallas – Shanghai, operated by a Boeing 777-200
10:55am Depart Dallas Fort Worth – Arrive Shanghai 2:55pm +1
4:55pm Depart Shanghai – Arrive Dallas Fort Worth 6:15pm
- Dallas – Hong Kong, operated by a Boeing 777-300ER
12:40pm Depart Dallas Fort Worth – -Arrive Hong Kong 6:00pm +1
1:30pm Depart Hong Kong – Arrive Dallas Fort Worth 4:30pm
The launch date for both services is planned for summer 2014 pending government approval. Both flights will be part of American’s joint business venture across the Pacific with Japan Airlines (despite adding Hong Kong, oneworld partner Cathay Pacific is not being included in the joint venture at this time).
I found the flight times on these a little bit strange at first — arriving in Hong Kong only in time for the last bank of connecting flights on Cathay, having the aircraft sit for nearly 20 hours there before returning for instance.
But it’s clear that the bulk of the traffic for these flights will not be Dallas-based origination/destination traffic. Dallas is American’s biggest hub, and it’s not the Dallas market which will justify the flying.
Similarly, American in launching Shanghai service from Dallas when they already serve Shanghai from Chicago and Los Angeles and when they won’t have substantial Dallas – Shanghai traffic can only make sense based on connections that will work better through Dallas than through their other gateways.
The answer in both cases seems to be feeding traffic from Latin America. An overnight flight from South America times up with a flight to Asia, and a return int he evening works well with an onward overnight flight to South America. At the same time the fights leave Dallas late enough, and arrive early enough, for additional connecting traffic to and from the East Coast of the U.S.
Ending New York JFK – Tokyo Haneda Service
They’ll be leaving this route, with the last flight Westbound on November 29th, and the last flight eastbound on December 1.
New Markets for the New 777-300ER: Miami-London and Sao Paulo
As American continues to bring on additional new Boeing 777s, they’re continue to focuso on the premium London Heathrow market and also on their strong presence in Sao Paulo.
Miami – London will move one of its two daily London flights to a 777-300ER in January. And one of their four Sao Paulo services is expected to get the aircraft this next November.
New York London will be seeing an additional 777-300ER as well, with the goal of American and British Airways guaranteeing full flat business class seats on all of their flights.
- Come the end of March or beginning of April, American’s 3 evening London flights will all be operated by a 777-300ER (currently the last flight of the three is operated by a 777-200)
- American will stop offering its morning (daylight) flight — currently served by a 777-200 with older seats — from New York to London, with British Airways picking up that service. They intend to bring it back “in a couple of years” once all of their 777-200s have been retrofitted to over fully flat business class.
Retrofitting of Existing 777s and 767s Will Move Forward Next Year
I don’t want to fly American’s business class for more than 8 hours in the old seats. I think their new 777-300ER planes with their new business class seat is the best product across the Atlantic. It’s just service London so far on European routes.
Here’s the old seat:
And here’s the new seat on the Boeing 777-300ER:
They’ve been talking about retrofitting their existing 777s (777-200s) and their 767-300s for the past year and a half but have been pretty tight-lipped with details. It’s great to see them offering a timeframe again, and it’s one pretty consistent with what I had been hearing six months ago.
They will be prototyping (bringing on board one aircraft) both the new 777-200 and new 767-300 during the first half of next year.
The plan is to bring single plane into the fleet and learn from the work that’s been done before refitting the rest of the fleet.
The expectation for the 777s is tat after the summer schedule they will begin retrofitting the rest of the aircraft.
The 767s may move more quickly, with a handful being converted before the summer season.
The downside to bringing onboard the new business class is that people are buying those seats, which is fair, but that makes it tough to get award seats. American has been pretty tight with premium cabin award space to Europe, much freer with those seats to Asia.
Their 772s that get a retrofit will go from having both business class and first class to having just business class. There will be fewer total premium cabin seats, though more business class seats than before.
The unfortunate thing is that right now first class transpacific award seats are really really easy to get on American. So seeing first class go away, even the old first class, likely means fewer award seats.