MIAMI — American Airlines announced on Wednesday new landmark, daily service from Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport to the Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Shanghai. The service is the first from Dallas to China and comes amid a bid by the airline to increase its lackluster presence in the region.
Hong Kong will see daily service with American’s flagship Boeing 777-300ER, the first time the highly praised airplane will see service in Asia. Service to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport will be operated with Boeing 777-200s. Both routes are pending governmental approval but anticipated to begin in the summer of 2014. The routes will be operated as part of a joint-venture between American (AA) and fellow oneworld member Japan Airlines (JAL).
According to Airchive Senior Business Analyst Vinay Bhaskara, Shanghai does not appear to offer American much on its face besides a decent chance at consistently filling business class cabins. Hong Kong makes more sense, as passengers can easily connect to further destinations in Asia via partner Cathay Pacific and, to a much lesser extent, JAL.
The additions come as American has worked hard to increase its presence in Asia, a region long dominated by competitors Delta and United. American began service from DFW to Seoul, South Korea earlier this year in May, which along with today’s announcement bolsters the likelihood that Dallas is being developed in part for its ability to connect passengers onward through the network. In particular AA’s DFW hub is well positioned to access the carriers highly developed network into Latin and South America.
DFW is also largely untouched for expansion into Asia, leaving American free (for now) to try the routes out without any competition. The airport’s only other service to Asia is via Korean to Seoul and American’s longstanding service to Tokyo which they launched in 1987. The next nearest city to have any service to the continent is Houston via United to Japan and Air China to China.
The new additions both current and future from Dallas / Ft. Worth are a needed boost to the carrier’s Asia portfolio. By the end of the year American will serve Shanghai and Tokyo out of both Chicago and Los Angeles. AA serves Beijing from Chicago alone, and Dallas serves Tokyo.
On the less celebratory side, American also quietly cut the airlines only Asia service from New York. New York JFK to Tokyo-Haneda will get the ax on December 1, 2013. The carrier had fought hard to secure the route as part of the OpenSkies Agreement between Japan and the US, but has since been unable to turn a profit. The airline cited the unorthodox operating hours, thus limiting connections (and the ability to make money), as the primary reason for the cut. The move leaves the airline without any east-coast – Asia routes.
This is not the first opportunity American has had to break Dallas into China. Back in 2007 the carrier applied for one of the highly coveted slots, only to withdraw later when management and the pilots union failed to come to an agreement on working hours for the long flights. The provision was wiped out when the carrier entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November of 2011.