American Retaliates Against Delta, Ramps Up New York LaGuardia

Delta refused to renew its interline agreement with American at standard industry pricing that allowed the two airlines to accommodate each others’ passengers in the event of irregular operations.

Now it looks like American is hitting Delta in the New York market, just as Delta co-brands an ad campaign with the state of New York to declare its supremacy there.

Despite a hub at New York JFK and a substantial operation at LaGuardia, American is an airline that has been focused on bringing passengers to New York rather than operating an airline for New Yorkers. Their JFK hub lacks service to key business destinations like Detroit, Denver, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Houston.

Put another way, American doesn’t feel the need to serve all major business destinations so that New Yorkers can choose the airline for all of their flights — at least when it means going head to head against other carriers and some of their hubs.

And flights to many cities are timed to bring people from those cities at the start of the day to New York — and fly them home at the end of the day. (That’s how they’ve scheduled the flight from my own home city of Austin. An evening departure to Austin and a morning flight back would mean a New Yorker would have to spend two nights in Austin for one day of meetings… not a winning business travel schedule for New Yorkers, but logical for Austinites.)

Aviation consultant Jeffrey Hartz pointed out that American just introduced three new routes out of New York LaGuardia aimed right at Delta starting in January:

Effective December 17 American will fly a once a day 737 LaGaurdia – Orlando.

Effective January 5 American will fly multiple flights with (legacy US Airways Express) Embraer ERJ-170s with 9 first class seats and 60 economy seats on…

New York – Cincinnati

New York – Minneapolis

New York – Indianapolis

Historically American’s management team has shied away from direct competition. At US Airways they reduced the number of routes that flew out of non-hub cities. It’s surprising to see them adding service to Delta hubs (Cincinnati and Minneapolis) and cities already seeing significant Delta service (Orlando and Indianapolis).

In order to get some of the slots at LaGuardia to operate these flights they appear to be drawing down LaGuardia – Philadelphia from as many as 9 flights a day to 4. I’m not yet sure where the rest of the slots are coming from.

I don’t expect American to show well in Orlando with one flight where Delta offers six. They’ve tried Minneapolis before and it didn’t work with mainline equipment.

While Delta seeks to eliminate the perimeter rule at LaGuardia to fuel its expansion in exchange for cover the cost to refurbish its terminals as part of the overall LaGuardia renovation project, American is challenging their supremacy at the airport. I don’t expect it to end well for American, or at least I’ll make the prediction that not all of these routes last.

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. On several occasions, Delta has aggressively targeted markets where pre-merger AA or pre-merger US had reduced service, e.g., PIT, STL, and RDU.

    Everyone I know in the Cincinnati and Memphis areas have remained DL flyers, despite the dehubbing of their home airports. At least based on this, AA seeks Cincy as the more lucrative market to target, and I bet local travelers will be receptive to expanded options given their unhappiness with Delta’s wind-down.

    IND is a market that numerous carriers have briefly made at least a focus city (US, UA, NW), but those expansions have never lasted. Even the IND-based ATA, late in its life, moved its hub elsewhere. But additional NY service is probably what’s most needed from IND, so this seems like a service that may work.

  2. AA briefly stopped LGA/ATL but started them back up, usually 4x daily, all on RJs. But very convenient at ATL because they are in the T concourse with the Admirals Club right across the gate. I’ve been flying US at ATL too much and often go through the F concourse for security, go to “The Club” via Priority Pass if I need a lounge, then train to D. More convenient than entering from the domestic terminal.

  3. @rjb it’s a blog. It should be fun to read, fun to write, informative, and friendly. If the occasional typo or mistake throws you in a tizzy, I think your approach is wrong.

  4. American Airlines has been flying LGA-DTW for over 50 years.

    I also think your assertion that AA is only about bringing people to New York is absolutely inane and absurd.

  5. The last time I remember this sort of competition was DL going after de-hubbed AA cities a few years back. At the time I lived in STL and was able to get 5,000 bonus Skymiles per flight from there for awhile.
    I still think this is symptomatic of a larger AA-DL war brewing nationwide. I’d be surprised if Alaska can stay on the sidelines also.

  6. This is from the same US guys who SOLD LGA to DL for a song.
    They got slots at DCA which they promptly lost in the AA merger.
    My bet is on DL!

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