At an employee “Crew News” question and answer session this week American Airlines explained why Africa flying isn’t on their radar any time soon. A recording of the discussion was reviewed by View From The Wing.
- American Airlines doesn’t have enough widebodies for next summer because of Boeing delays in delivering 787s that the airline has ordered (and because they’ve retired their Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s during the pandemic).
- There’s limited business travel to Africa, which makes selling flat seats in premium cabins difficult.
- According to Brian Znotins, American’s Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning, “I’d look beyond 2022 for any type of entry into Africa for us.”
Given recent discussions about adding premium seats to widebody aircraft at American, it doesn’t seem likely we’ll see American Airlines Boeing 787s flying to Africa soon.
American had planned to enter Africa with a flight from Philadelphia to Casablanca, Morocco using a Boeing 757. That is a surprisingly short flight at around 3700 miles each way – about 150 miles further than Philadelphia – London Heathrow. American has retired its Boeing 757 fleet, so won’t be using it to connect with oneworld member Royal Air Maroc after all.
Perhaps the best bet for American’s first foray into Africa, then, might be using an Airbus A321XLR to fly to Casablanca. Those planes have a range up to 4700 nautical miles, and American has 50 firm orders that begin coming into the fleet in 2023.
When the order was placed the intention was to fly them to small cities in Europe and to close-in South America. They’ll have lie flat business class seats and premium economy as well.