American Airlines is primarily a domestic airline. They’re smaller internationally than Delta and United. Their focus has been building domestic connections between the middle of the country and also the Sun Belt.
Like all the other major airlines they have a number of planes parked, especially widebody planes that fly internationally. Talking to pilots last week about how they’ll grow their route network again and deploy these widebodies, American’s Senior Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja offered four principles.
- They want to return to China quickly, saying they “are looking at trying to bring the Dallas Fort-Worth to Shanghai flight back…If we were a little further ahead in our integration with Alaska we’d be looking at trying to advance the Seattle – Shanghai flight.”
- They may deploy widebodies to Florida “some of our hub-to-hub flights, when we get to the fourth quarter we are the biggest operator to Florida because we have the big Miami hub, and right now Florida is a place people want to get to…one of the things we are looking at is whether we should use some of those widebodies to just do things like fly New York to Miami and Chicago to Miami.”
- Focus on London Raja poined out that their “largest international operation isn’t domiciled in the U.S., it’s London…the most important port of entry in our international system is London Heathrow.” Expect that with restrictions lifted on U.S. airports allowing arrivals from Europe that London flights get added back first, although perhaps not until early 2021.
- Lead with cargo because “it used to be we’d sell passenger demand and then we’d try to figure out how to put cargo on it…cargo can cover the price of fuel, and then if we can generate enough passenger demand maybe we can make this stuff go into the future.”
American’s major focus growing international flying going forward, looking past winter, is bringing international flights to partner hubs – the way Vasu Raja talks about the British Airways hub at London Heathrow he also talks about the Alaska Airlines Seattle hub and JetBlue New York JFK hub. In fact, he calls Seattle American’s hub now.