American Will Do Less International Flying From JFK, Build Up Philadephia

Last week I told you that American would be doing less international flying from JFK and more from Philadelphia.

There was some skepticism out there, but this was what I was hearing, and it turns out to be exactly correct.

American Airlines will soon add several transatlantic routes from its Philadelphia hub while making large cuts to its international network at New York’s JFK. Today, American announced routes from Philadelphia to Budapest (BUD) and Prague (PRG).

…As Philadelphia sees transatlantic growth, American will be making serious cuts to its JFK hub. American will cut one of two daily flights to Paris (CDG), cease service to Manchester, and move its Zurich route to Philadelphia. These cuts signify American betting on Philadelphia over JFK and surrendering the international New York market to Delta.

In addition to the new seasonal Philadelphia Boeing 767 service to Budapest and Prague, and reductions at New York JFK, American is adding a new seasonal Boeing 787 flight Chicago – Venice.

American Airlines Boeing 767 Business Class

Here are the proposed schedules for service May 4, 2018 through October 27, 2018 (routes bookable starting August 21):

It’s not surprising that Charlotte isn’t getting new international service. It’s a profitable hub with many routes that see little competition, and the only real Southeastern hub which competes with Atlanta. However it isn’t a strong transatlantic gateway.

With American’s growth constrained in New York, and clearly behind Delta and United in the New York market, it’s hard to build feed with domestic flights and hard to build support for significant new international flying.

American Airlines New York JFK

As American has sought to grow its international flying, Philadelphia has emerged as a key transatlantic departure point — in some ways surprisingly because American has hubs a mere 100 miles away from each other, that’s usually thought not to be sustainable, and New York itself is a bigger market. But American isn’t well-positioned to compete in New York, and current management has historically shied away from competition (although has been more head-to-head competitive at the reins of American).

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. Being LAX based I do not like this at all – the planes clearly are inferior on LAX-PHL compared to LAX-JFK to make the connection. LAX-LHR and connecting on BA will continue to be the way to get to Europe for me

  2. Smart Move on the part of AA at JFK. PHL is a bonafide HUB Operation (Domestic and Int’l) that has potential for GROWTH. JFK is restricted is by Slots and no one is giving them Up. Outside of the Bigger O/D Population out of NYC there really isn’t much potential out of JFK as opposed to PHL. I travel extensively and I have NEVER been a fan of JFK…..the Airport, Location, Customs/Immigration. PHL was a very lucrative Intl Operation of the former USAirways and quite honestly many people really Do Not care to Connect in NY anyways…..I know it is at The Bottom of My List.

  3. I WOULD be happy about this if I thought it meant that AA would boost its customer service staff in PHL (e.g. have more than 2 people at a time staffing the Admirals Clubs and the Customer Service Desks in the enormous A-West and B/C terminals…totally inadequate).

  4. what will happen to people who fly oneworld partners and want to connect to somewhere else in the US? do those airlines also switch to PHL?

  5. AA needs to start flying some PHL-JFK routes if this is their strategy. The current connection between the two hubs is PHL-LGA-cab-JFK.

  6. @Taha – what do you mean? AA has never had much of a domestic operation at JFK and that’s not what is getting cut here. In fact, AA is adding a domestic route – Denver – and maybe that will allow for some domestic connetivity. The majority of those people on oneworld partners flying to JFK are just going to NYC, so they get off there. AA doesnt make decisions about where it flies domestically at JFK based on the feed it might/ might not get from its oneworld partners.

    As far as the oneworld partners, though, most of them have links to other AA hubs or focus cities that have vastly more domestic connection opportunities on AA than JFK – those pax will simply connect elsewhere and not rely on JFK for connections to domestic US destinations

  7. @Pat – why do they need to do this. Most of the people will be going to NYC. So they can just fly PHL-LGA. Why do they need to get to JFK?

  8. From the article:
    “…As Philadelphia sees transatlantic growth, American will be making serious cuts to its JFK hub. American will cut one of two daily flights to Paris (CDG), cease service to Manchester, and move its Zurich route to Philadelphia. These cuts signify American betting on Philadelphia over JFK and surrendering the international New York market to Delta..”

    Why is AA allowing Delta to gain an advantage (no pun intended) at JFK? Does AA have incredible forecasts for East Coast revenue gains at PHL and CLT, at the expense of the NY market? This seems very short-sighted.

    Although he’s now at United, didn’t former AA President Scott Kirby question why United left JFK for EWR? And now it seems as if AA is following United’s lead, although they’re transitioning to PHL instead of Newark. I don’t get it.

  9. Let us posit that American was previoudsly making the use of AA miles more difficult. (Which they were by restricting availabilty of award seats, etc.). New York is a big flyer market and I would venture to guess that many of those folks hold big portions of AA miles. If I was AA and I wanted to make the use of those big miles pots even more diffucult, I would pull flights from the New York market. What do you know, that is exactly what they did.

  10. This is a bummer as a SFO-based AA flyer. I frequently go to ZRH and flying the A321T in J to JFK is leaps and bounds better than the a crappy domestic F product to PHL. Yet another reason to move more of my business to United.

  11. I like it. From Washington D,C easy to fly, drive or train to PHL than NYC. And NYC was always a no go as required change from LGA to JFK who does that is crazy

  12. @Mike – what do you mean? AA offers/ offered several flights a day DCA- JFK that easily connected to their flights at JFK. They still do.

  13. those JFK-ZRH fares have been consistently in the $350 range this year, which makes me wonder about yields. Can’t imagine Philly would help though?!?!

  14. I have occasionally been tempted to take the train or drive to Philly to catch a TATL flight rather than a more expensive one from IAD. I will start looking more for cheap business fares from PHL as an alternative.

  15. My gut tells me there will be less competition from LCCs flying to/from Europe to/from PHL, then JFK or close to JFK. Could be eventually the LCCs will hit PHL as well, but its not 1 of the major mkts theyd want to hit from the get go

  16. AA@JFK has had flights from at least 20+ US cities within the past several years. I’ve flown into JFK on AA flights from at least 20 US airports over the past 17 years.

  17. Two issues with this approach. Currently limited feed with domestic flights to PHL. One world members may start to look for alternatives. One world members are more likely to fly to ORD, JFK and MIA on the east coast.

  18. I think the other factor affecting JFK are the numbers of European carriers operating there as well. For residents near NYC who don’t need a domestic connection, there is no advantage to flying a US carrier with limited direct destinations and no European network vs. all the various European carriers that offer direct service or strong connecting networks. For those in markets with no direct European service, there is no difference between connecting and Philadelphia and correcting at JFK.

  19. Because there is soooo much business between PHL and Prague and PHL and Budapest……….lol

    This wouldn’t be a bad plan if there were enough connecting flights to PHL. There aren’t and I don’t see AA adding them.

    The good news for me is I can drive up from DC and easily get AA award flights to Europe since they’re bound to have plenty of empty seats.

  20. I echo an earlier comment. The connecting equipment into PHL from the WC is garbage. Big negative for me.

    Also I really wonder about operational stuff if flights increase. To me PHL has always been an airport to avoid, with only two long runways, which is what these flights will have to use, and more than their fair share of weather events. Look for increased IRROPS. This routing continues to strike me as something to avoid – yes even vs. JFK or even ORD.

  21. Low loads on JFK-Zurich and Paris? Too bad they didn’t actually release any saver awards on the routes.

    This is crappy news for DC flyers unless you want to take a 3hr train trip up to PHL.

  22. AA has a near monopoly on transatlantic flying and a large domestic hub operation there. These are things that they did not have before the US Airways merger. It is not surprising that they would want to move JFK flying to PHL under these circumstances.

    UA is in the strongest position in NYC because of its large EWR hub. DL is in the second strongest position because of its extensive operations at JFK and LGA. AA is third in NYC, without many options to improve that standing (I guess it could buy JetBlue, but that seems quite improbable). In this context, it all makes sense.

  23. I wish AA would move more European flights to CLT. There’s room for growth in CLT, and it’s fairly centrally located on the east coast.

    As for DC-based flyers, neither JFK nor PHL are convenient. The connecting flights from DCA at both airports land far, far away from the international departure gates. Even if the passenger makes a tight connection, the luggage often does not. Ground transportation from LGA to JFK sucks, as it does from the 30th Street Station to PHL.

  24. @Mike – I have to agree with Jason, there’s plenty of DCA-JFK flights and usually at an equal or lower fare.

  25. This is bad news for me since I’m NY based and makes my AA miles look even less attractive. The JFK-MAN route was one of the very few places that I could find saver availability in J.

  26. Amazing how so much has changed in American’s vision since it abandoned its NYC HQ for DFW in 1969.

    So now we are left with even less choice: United owns EWR; Delta now to own JFK.

    To what extent will PHL and BOS now rise to the top. Another argument to embrace full competition for international service; ideally cabotage flights within the US. A recent article indicated how Air Canada has is significantly cleaned up its act that it is pulling many Americans to Toronto and Vancouver–because of bettercservice and pricing!

  27. AA can’t do international from its big LGA and DCA hubs so PHL would make sense as a short connect from both.
    The problem is that AA won’t beef up those 2 hubs to PHL.
    Parker has no clue how to build up an airline.

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