American Airlines continues its cuts to Asia service from its hub at Chicago O’Hare. After previously announcing that it would drop Beijing service, Shanghai flights will also be terminated this October. That is one of several changes announced as part of the company’s latest long-haul international restructuring. As with the Beijing cuts American Airlines will apply to the US DoT for a waiver on the slot usage requirement in hopes of keeping the allocated slots even while not operating the flights.
The carrier will also reduce O’Hare-Narita service to thrice weekly for the majority of the year, leaning on partner JAL to fill in the schedule. For peak summer season in 2019 JAL – and not American – will increase frequencies to fill out the double daily service.
We remain strongly committed to Asia and will continue to serve the region through our hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles. 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.These adjustments to our Asia service are necessary in this high fuel cost environment, but we remain committed to the network we’ve worked hard to build. – Vasu Raja, Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning
It is not just Asia affected by the cuts, though those are more dramatic. Manchester, UK will also be dropped from O’Hare, with the seasonal service not returning in 2019. JFK will lose its seasonal service to Dublin and Edinburgh while year-round service to Port-au-Prince will be cut from JFK and Fort Lauderdale. Philadelphia will drop its service to Munich, Frankfurt and Glasgow; the latter will result in that station closing.
The new routes being added are mostly seasonal, targeting smaller nonstop markets in the transatlantic market. Destinations like Dubrovnik and Bologna will see American offering their only flights to the USA, using Philadelphia as the gateway hub. Berlin will get a flight to Philadelphia as well, filling in for the loss of long-haul service from AirBerlin. This will be American’s first service to all three of these destinations.
Adding the Phoenix-London service to augment is something that Raja intimated with the news in May; the company will coordinate with JV partner British Airways to both offer the Phoenix service in a manner that offers the best onward connections into the rest of Europe. This all keeps with the idea of “Flying the good fares” that Raja hinted at back when the Beijing cut was announced. The company hoping to be surgical about finding the right routes to operate in a profitable way, especially with higher fuel prices here to stay for the foreseeable future.
With Finnair also increasing service to Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2019 the oneworld play across the Atlantic will be an interesting play, especially with many of the routes set to be seasonal. Competition from LCCs will be challenging on many of the shorter routes but the longer secondary markets show some strong potential. Especially where competition is limited.