MIAMI — American Airlines has unveiled one of its most significant long-haul network modifications, with a myriad of new European flights and some reductions in Asia-bound services.
This announcement comes in a few weeks after the carrier reported its second quarter of 2018 financial status, which according to its CEO, Doug Parker, “was perhaps the most challenging quarter for the American team since our merger with US Airways in 2013.”
Fuel prices hit the airline hard, increasing its expenses by more than $700 million.
At the time, Parker said that he would focus growth on its bigger hubs in Dallas and Charlotte, rather than Miami, Phoenix, Washington-Dulles, and Philadelphia.
However, with today’s announcement, a few surprises show up from the airline’s hubs in Philadelphia and Chicago.
The carrier is announcing a heavy expansion into Europe from its hubs in Charlotte (CLT), Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW), Chicago (ORD), Philadelphia (PHL) and Phoenix (PHX).
From CLT, the airline will be flying year-round to Munich (MUC) with its Airbus A330-200. Likewise, the German destination will get a daily summer service from DFW, operating on a seasonal basis with its newer Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.
Dublin (DUB) will also get seasonal summer flights from the airline’s hub in Dallas, operated with the larger 787-9 Dreamliner.
From PHL, however, comes the biggest European expansion. American Airlines plans to initiate a large batch of summer seasonal flights to Edinburgh (EDI), Berlin-Tegel (TXL), Bologna (BLQ), and Dubrovnik (DBV).
American Airlines claims that the addition of these seasonal flights are, in part, thanks to the tremendous success that the current services to Athens, Venice, Amsterdam, Budapest, and Prague are experiencing.
All of Philadelphia’s new European flights will be operated with the carrier’s Boeing 767-300(ER) planes.
“By providing the only nonstop service from North America to Bologna and Dubrovnik and adding Berlin to our international footprint, American is making it easier to see the world,” said Vasu Raja, Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning.
“Through our Atlantic Joint Business, we have seen increased interest to these markets from the U.S., and adjusting our network to introduce these destinations will provide more choices for customers on both sides of the Atlantic.”
The hub in PHX will only see the addition of a seasonal daily flight to London-Heathrow (LHR), which will be operated in partnership with its Atlantic Joint Venture partner, British Airways. The flight will be operated with a Boeing 777-200(ER).
At last, a daily seasonal service from Chicago-O’Hare will launch to Athens (ATH) on the carrier’s Boeing 787-8, starting from May 3 through September 28.
Unlike the airline’s major European announcements, some reductions and cancelations are seen in its Chicago-Asia network
The carrier’s service between ORD and Shanghai-Pudong (PVG) in China will be suspended in October 2018 because of “the current fuel and competitive environment.”
“Our Chicago–Shanghai service is unprofitable and simply not sustainable in this high fuel cost environment and when we have opportunities to be successful in other markets,” said Vasu Raja
According to American Airlines, the last flight to PVG will run on October 26. All customers booked on flights past this date “will be
This route cancellation comes two months after the airline announced the termination of its Chicago-Beijing (PEK) service, which will run until October 20.
American did say that they will be requesting access to Beijing’s new airport when it is set to open next year.
The airline explains that it will be seeking a dormancy waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the route authority on both Chinese airports.
Similarly, a reduction in service between ORD and Tokyo-Narita (NRT) will reduce from the current daily operation to a three-times-per-week basis, starting in December 2018.
Vaja admits that these adjustments “are necessary in this high fuel cost environment.”
Overall, the airline is focusing most of its efforts in the healthy European summer traffic, whereas most of its Chicago-Asia routes will remain under strict performance surveillance.