Adding extra flights to the schedule for the annual CES show in Las Vegas is a relatively common move. Demand is high and travelers are willing to pay higher than average prices to be at the massive technology conference so the airlines tend to enjoy nice profits on those flights. But those changes typically happen with domestic carriers. For the 2018 iteration Delta Air Lines and Korean Air teamed to offer a couple frequencies connecting Seoul and Las Vegas to ferry attendees and exhibitors. For the 2019 edition of the show Japan Airlines and American Airlines teamed up to do similar, connecting Tokyo-Narita with Las Vegas for the 10-day window surrounding the event. American will operate the flight on a 787-8 from January 4-14, 2019.
Thousands of travelers from Japan and other parts of Asia make their way to Las Vegas every year for CES. The network and onboard experience offered by American and Japan Airlines as part of our Pacific Joint Business is world-class, and we are thrilled to make getting to the world’s largest technology event faster and easier than ever before. – Shane Hodges, managing director of Asia Pacific Sales for American
The AA flights will carry a JAL flight number and JAL will deliver a strong marketing push in Tokyo to feed traffic on to the flights. Noboru Hirai, vice president of International Passenger Sales & Planning for JAL, also notes that his operation will be “closely working with American to tailor it to the needs of Japanese customers.” This is a service very much focused on the Japanese market, but operated by a US airline. That presents some challenges but nothing that cannot be met with a little work.
Also unique about the JAL/AA version of capacity shift for CES 2019 is that American is not adding an extra flight to Tokyo to meet this demand. Rather, the typical Chicago-Narita flight is shifting to Las Vegas. Passengers wanting a nonstop flight between Tokyo and Chicago can take the JAL service (or ANA or United) during that period.
This approach to the shifting capacity rather than adding additional flights helps keep growth in line and arguably relieves some of the pressures on American’s O’Hare international operation. The carrier previously announced it is cutting Chicago-Beijing service, owing to ever more challenging competition. With the JAL joint venture leaving a Chicago-Tokyo option in place during the relatively low demand period this is smart aircraft utilization that does not dilute the company’s overall operation.