Three Things I Didn’t Know About American Airlines, And Two Things Worth Reminding

In an interview with Simple Flying late last month, that I only just watched in full over the weekend, American Airlines Chief Revenue Officer shared a few tidbits that I did not already know.

  • “Our loyalty program will be the loyalty program of Jetsmart”

  • The Gol partnership will include “offering a single credit card to our customers”

  • Why the don’t refer to Austin as a focus city is mostly superstition,

    The long strange history of this business, whenever anybody names something a focus city it’s a matter of time before they’re unwinding the focus city. But for us we see Austin as the start of something which would be really promising, really unique to Austin, but there’s probably a handful of cities that could do something similar in our system.

He made a couple of other important points, that I’ve covered here in the past. American is primarily looking for “really great short haul partners” in airlines, rather than long haul carriers like they’ve partnered most closely with in the recent past (like British Airways, Japan Airlines).

And the carrier is moving away from the old US Airways model of seasonal Europe flights with cheap planes:

Through the pandemic we got rid of some really really inexpensive airframes, the 767, the old A330s and the 757. Those airframes, because they were so cheap, we could be really opportunistic with them.

If we could fly to Europe for four and a half months and make pretty good money out of it and then pull them down and go fly to the Caribbean and a couple of domestic trips and things like that, where effectively it was almost like managing margins, it was an okay enough thing to go and do.

Those things don’t exist in our system anymore. And unfortunately though we had them as a product of all of these mergers they probably weren’t the best thing that we could have gone and done for customers. The way we really envision our international system coming back is we want to have widebodies that can go work hard throughout the year.

That doesn’t mean no more leisure routes like Philadelphia to Croatia, but possibly a widebody in the summertime and an Airbus A321XLR in the winter, redeploying the widebody to South America.

It also underscores that, having retired its Boeing 767s (largely Amazon Air now) and 757s (headed to Northern Pacific Airways) they don’t have cheap lift they can go be experimental with on longer routes.

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. The Gol partnership will include “offering a single credit card to our customers”.
    What was your take on that? I couldn’t figure it.

  2. But didn’t Raja say they see tons of demand for wide body lie flat seats on domestic routes from MIA? Yet another example of AA management contradicting itself and having no common vision whatsoever

  3. I’d rather fly off peak to europe on an old US air 772 angled flat for 60k roundtrip than roundtrip on newer AA metal for 2x or 3x the award price.

  4. @DaninMCI. Totally agree, but unfortunately award prices are going up regardless of what aircraft they are running.

  5. I never understood why AA dumped 330-200 & 330-300. They appeared to be in good shape, and coach 2-4-2 was much more comfortable than 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 of the 787 or 777. Some of these were only 8 years old and had P/E. I wonder what their seat mile costs compared to these more expensive replacement planes? While there may be cost savings by eliminating an aircraft type, I wonder if those savings were exceed by cost overruns at the new headquarter/hotel complex.

  6. Agree that I am not entirely sure the economics of dumping the less than 10 year old wide bodies was well thought out. They could fill up a 330 easily between clt and Phx and many o/d passengers in clt would pay a (small) premium to do transcons in a real business class seat. Pretty short term thinking to dump perfectly good planes.

  7. Actually B757 and B767 are in demand. FedEx bought some of them because those aircraft are their domestic line haul. I imagine AA saw the premium for these aircraft over the costs to fly them.

    Although it was foolish to give up aircraft that had some very good uses.

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