Will American Airlines End Service To Doha?

One Mile at a Time believes that the American Airlines route from New York JFK to Doha won’t survive.

  • American Airlines is primarily a domestic and short haul carrier, with an international focus on London Heathrow – driving connections with their transatlantic joint venture partner British Airways. They fly to a handful of major European destinations as part of the joint venture, such as flights to Spain (Iberia is also a part of this arrangement) and to Tokyo and the South Pacific where they have joint ventures with Japan Air Lines and Qantas. They’re strong to Latin America, bolstered by partnerships with Jetsmart and Gol.

  • They do very little ultra long haul flying. And Doha’s premiums cabins are consistently empty in his observation, filling up only at the last minute (presumably with nonrevenue employees and upgrades). And they can’t be making money off of just a full coach cabin with their costs.

As a result, he says “my money is on this route being cut before the end of 2023.”

I’m going to push back and take the under here.

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha – Worth A Visit, But Would You Fly American Over Qatar Airways?

What are reasons you might consider flying American Airlines to Doha instead of Qatar Airways, which offers a generally better inflight product?

  • Price
  • You want to fly premium economy, which Qatar doesn’t offer
  • You’re trying to upgrade with AAdvantage miles or systemwide upgrades
  • Award redemption when no saver seats are available on Qatar and the premium on American is modest

While American may ultimately not make Doha work, these issues could mean they commit to it longer than they otherwise would. A new international route often takes one to three years to reach its potential. This one only launched in June 2022. Sometimes airlines – including this one – let money-losing routes operate even longer. American Airlines continued to fly the money-losing US Airways Philadelphia – Tel Aviv until early 2016 – nearly 7 years without turning a profit.

There’s no question that the airline has become both more disciplined and also much more conservative in its international route planning but I’m not convinced that Doha is gone by end of year.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Thanks for this article. Saw the headline at One Credit Card at a Time and absolutely did not want to give that bank-shilling huckster my click. Nice to have an alternative and the quiet satisfaction that Gary and I are both freeloading off his work.

  2. Regarding PHL to TLV route, that operated from 2009-2016 – of the 120,000 employees in the airline, maybe 2 state that it was losing money for 7 years. The other 119,998 don’t believe it. Flights were regularly full, and they had great cargo agreements. The real reasons for shutting it down will come out one day.

  3. A few days ago I checked for systemwide upgrade availability (SWU) JFK-DOH one-way and DOH-JFK one-way for this week and next week and for low-fare but the fares are still high ($1,200, $1,300, $1,400,…) and zero SWUs available and the premium cabin is full on most flights

    I have time to go anywhere international on AA metal this week and willing to pay $600-$800-$900 where I can use my SWU but can’t find anything on AA metal. Anyone has any suggestions?

    Last time I flew JFK-DOH (was on a 777-300ER) I got my SWU but paid $1,500 and the premium cabin was full of AA employees (2 were in first class) and the others (baggage handlers, etc.) filled the business class cabin.

    The other issue is for my return flight DOH-JFK, I got to the airport many many hours early so I could get into the business class lounge to enjoy but the AA app would not give me my boarding pass and there was no AA counter open (it doesn’t open until around 3 hours prior to flight time) and no one at Qatar would give me a boarding pass for a AA flight. Anyone have any suggestions how to get a boarding pass more than 3 hours prior to flight?

  4. I am pretty sure AA and QR do not have a joint venture.
    AA could meet the DoT’s slot usage requirements flying a 77w to Charlotte. They would likely give away fewer AA employee jobs to AS and B6 if they did.

    AA should focus on the reliability of their operations in their core Latin America region. Spirit and JetBlue carries thousands of passengers to Ft Lauderdale that AA used to carry to Miami

    And Delta’s joint venture with Latam at Miami is just getting started. Death of a thousand international cuts at AA

  5. It would be great if they put the triple seven on a Philadelphia to west coast route. Flying the narrow bodies all that distance can be a real pain and you don’t have the better business class on any of them if I recall correctly. I would definitely like to see that as my one daughter lives on the west coast, and I have several friends over there.

  6. Does it have to be a 77W…I’d be surprised if seat capacity comes into play with the NEA…but I could very well be wrong. If it does, maybe send it to Mumbai or Tel Aviv and use that 772 elsewhere? Or maybe even use the 77W for Tokyo? I’m sure AA will figure something out 🙂

  7. American finally be getting more Boeing 787s which will need to go somewhere. Incremental planes mean more flying – flights that do not make American’s current cut. They should reconsider reinstating flight 153/154 ORD-HND(NRT) route, while Satar Alliance UAL and ANA, and JAL are on the high-yield route for both passengers and Air freight.

  8. As a leisure traveler paying out of pocket, I very happily choose QR over AA. Let the competitive capitalism continue!

  9. Why would anyone fly American to Doha when they can fly an ME3 airline get real service, clean airplanes and get this edible food from crews that appreciate your business. Forget about all the above comments as in my opinion it all comes down to fly American Airlines and be miserable or fly an ME3.

  10. I wish they had given PHL-SDQ and PHL-STI a chance like they’re giving this route. I understand that the premium seats weren’t selling very well but downgrading from a A321 to an A320 or A319 would’ve made more sense than cutting the routes after less than a year! Now I gotta drive all the way to NYC to fly direct.

  11. Regarding AA service to TLV, namely the ending of PHL-TLV and dropping all Israel service for awhile…. I seem to recall at the time that it was for reasons of Israeli labor law. Apparently as a non-Israeli company, and the successor to TWA, once American began service to Israeli then all of the TWA employees had recall rights or could file for back pay.. and they had something unreasonable like 200-250 employees in country for one daily flight.

  12. Airlines lose money on economy tickets, and AA can’t even charge the same that QR does. They lose even more money when they upgrade those low-yielding customers to business.

    Bu hilarity ensues when you look at business class fares: AA charges the same amount, to the penny, for its inconsistent soulless “service” on the 777 than QR does with its far superior A350.

    The only legs that this route has is linked to AA’s willingness to create a black hole in its income statement.

    AA has zero money to invest and zero management capability to run a service-oriented airline, so no amount of time will make AA competitive against QR — and the route profitable. They learned the lesson out of LAX, and this is no different.

    The other blogger is right.

  13. Yes, I heard that Qatar is taking over the JFK/DOH flight operated by AA.

    Any idea what timeframe?

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