American Airlines joined the Summer 2020 schedule cut party overnight, announcing several international routes that will not operate until at least October and a 7.5% cut in domestic capacity for April. The carrier also dramatically improved its change fee waiver policy, making it easier for passengers to reconsider otherwise non-refundable travel plans.
In addition to the changes announced on Tuesday American also hints that it would like to trim more from the schedule. Currently it is not doing so because it risks losing its slots at congested airports if it does not operate 80% of the allocated frequencies. In the release the carrier notes, “American has requested temporary relief from this usage requirement – otherwise known as requesting a slot waiver – to better align capacity with demand without the risk of losing valuable takeoff and landing slots for the future.”
A more generous change policy from American Airlines
Effective immediately, all tickets for travel through 30 April 2020 may now be changed without a change fee. This applies to all AA-issued tickets, including Basic Economy. Passengers are still on the hook for any fare difference and the new tickets must be reissued by the end of December or within 12 months of the original ticketing date, whichever is earlier.
American was arguably the worst when it initially launched its fee waiver as the coronavirus outbreak spread. With this new policy the company comes in line with Delta Air Lines that had been one of the most generous, particularly around making changes on previously booked fares.
These fee waivers eat into airline ancillary revenue. They are also polarizing in customer sentiment as travelers generally feel the need to change is not their fault. Limiting the waiver only to new purchases was seen by consumers as particularly egregious and now all of the Big 3 US carriers have adjusted policies to ignore that factor.
Major International Schedule Cuts at American
The American Airlines international route map will be a little less full this summer. A number of markets are wholly suspended while others will see a delayed launch or smaller aircraft operating.
- Mainland China flights are suspended through late October. Hong Kong is suspended from LA and will resume at 3x weekly from DFW in July.
- Tokyo service drops to a 787-8 from 7 May; currently operating with a mix of 787-9 and 777s
- Sydney reduces to 6x weekly in May and early June
Europe and South America will also see notable cuts including:
- Rome and Milan suspended through the next 6-8 weeks, and the previously planned second daily DFW-Rome flight will not operate. Delta also cancelled its planned second daily ATL-Rome flight.
- Charlotte-Barcelona, Miami-Paris and JFK-Madrid are suspended from 7 May through 3 June.
- Miami-Montevideo becomes a seasonal route, not operating from 7 May through 17 December.
- Santiago, Chile and Sao Paulo, Brazil also see cuts
A Domestic pull-back
While the international cuts are significant and relatively far-ranging time-wise there are also domestic cuts now in place. The carrier will trim 7.5% of its capacity within the US market. In its statement the carrier suggests it will “decrease frequencies in markets with robust schedule patterns and will cancel routes where customers can be easily reaccommodated.”
At the same time, however, the carrier will add a seasonal 787-9 flight this summer between O’Hare and Honolulu as it seeks to keep some of its wide-body aircraft in service during the international drawdown.
Compared to the others
American’s moves are significant and in line with other changes in the international and domestic markets. Compared to United, for example, the international cuts are comparable while domestic capacity does not drop quite as much. But the cuts are more significant than what Spirit Airlines or JetBlue put into place thus far.
More on COVID-19 and the airlines affected
- Alaska Airlines offers elite bonus earning in face of COVID-19 booking weakness
- Massive cuts, uncertain recovery timelines for aviation in the face of COVID-19
- Qantas cuts international 25% through September facing coronavirus-induced demand drop
- Spirit Airlines plans 5% growth reduction for April as COVID-19 hurts demand
- American Airlines slashes schedule, increases flexibility for customer rebookings
- US to block some European visitors
- Two key takeaways from American’s latest schedule cuts
- Regulators suspend slot rules, opening door to deeper airline cuts
- Beyond route cuts, airlines initiate extended suspension of operations
- Gogo looks to ride out coronavirus-related dip in demand
- Trans States Airlines: The first US airline victim of COVID-19
- JetBlue removes 40% of capacity, delays new deliveries as demand drops
- Airlines get a break on coronavirus EC261 comp, looking for more
- Airport lounges shutter as airlines slash capacity
- Will COVID-19 delay the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport?
- Qatar Airways plans 75% capacity cut in response to COVID-19
- Emirates, Turkish Airlines slash route networks, ground aircraft
- JetBlue plans additional draw down in service
- Is it time for US airports to start closing terminals??
- Converting to cargo: Putting passenger planes to use in the COVID-19 era
- IATA anticipates recession, slower recovery, as COVID-19 impact drag on
- US carriers cut frequencies, not destinations as they seek federal funding
- JetBlue plans 70%+ cut in April operations
- Cancelled flights, vouchers and the airline cash flow crunch
- Spirit Airlines reportedly cutting 90% of flights
- US airlines cut deep, but not deep enough
- An eerie quiet over New York City: The flights are gone
- Who wants what? How the US airlines are responding with CARES Act funding on the line
- Delta, United extend elite status by a year, adjust other benefits
- DOT adjusts, finalizes airline route requirements for CARES Act funding.
- Lufthansa announces major, permanent fleet restructuring
- Air Canada, Alaska Airlines extend elite status
- Deeper cuts, reprotect options coming for JetBlue
- Air Canada replaces seats with cargo in 777-300ER cabin
- American Airlines extends status, eases qualification
- A new take on amenity kits in the COVID-19 era
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 1
- Stuck in the past, DOT botches its CARES Act implementation
- DOT grants exemptions to Delta, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines under CARES Act obligations
- Introducing yin-yang seating for economy class
- Inflight social distancing will kill short-haul LCC travel: IATA
- Gogo furloughs 60% of workforce, applies for CARES Act support
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 2
- De Havilland, Air Canada Cargo partner on Dash 8-400 cargo conversion
- JetBlue plans new route network for CARES Act compliance
- Spirit Airlines running triangle routes to meet CARES Act requirements
- Sun Country wins big as United, Frontier lose in latest CARES Act ruling
- Frontier Airlines pushes new route plan for CARES Act compliance
- Argentina plans to restart flights in September 2020
- Spirit Airlines asks DOT again to drop destinations
- Delta Flight Products, TechOps develop isolation pod for COVID-19 military transport
- JetBlue aims to drop 16 "major hub" destinations from its network
- Allegiant scores leniency from DOT in CARES Act obligations
- Panasonic Avionics implements furloughs to address slowing business
- American, Delta confirm accelerated fleet retirements
- Airbus aims to ease "COVID Combi" temporary freighter conversions
- The Weekly Wrap: FlightPlan, personal screening and more!
- United’s long-haul operations focus on a new "workhorse"
- United plans touchless bag tag kiosks
- Temperature scans in, 767s out for Air Canada, Rouge
- JetBlue, Spirit score exemptions to drop service at major US airports
- IATA recommends against blocked middle seats, favors "layered" protections
- United plans to resume (cargo for now) Hong Kong-Singapore service
- JetBlue suspends six cities through June
- Project Wingman USA Opens Lounges for Frontline Healthcare Heroes at Two Major New York City Hospitals
- Cape Air’s ugly April stats (and some possible good news for May)
- Fighting for the middle: A pandemic seating shift
- Avianca declares bankruptcy, seeks protection in restructuring
- United raises ire in cutting hours for salaried employees
- DOT further relaxes airline CARES Act obligations
- Allegiant sees quick recovery on the horizon
- Delta drops 777 fleet as coronavirus cuts continue
- JetBlue offers free TrueBlue Mosaic status, plus a year extension
- United faces lawsuit over M&A employees pay cut
- Optimism on the horizon: The Weekly Wrap 15 May 2020
- Beached Whale: A380’s future turns more bleak
- TSA implementing lower-touch screening protocols
- Volotea plans for growth into a COVID-affected Summer
- Health passports in our future: The Weekly Wrap
- LATAM seeks US bankruptcy protection, plans to continue operations
- JetBlue plans return of international markets in June
- Frontier, Mobile bicker over flights to Orlando
- US retaliates against China, blocking all flights
- China blinks, US to back down on flight ban
- ATPCO moves to ease ticketing changes for airlines worldwide
- Inflight magazines are not dead yet: The Weekly Wrap–5 June 2020
- From pre-flight massages to COVID-19 testing: XpresSpa pivots to XpresCheck at JFK
- GermFalcon to take flight as Honeywell UV Cabin System
- Allegiant driving passenger traffic recovery
- Air travel is bouncing back: Can the trend hold??
- Masks Matter: US carriers plan more enforcement for on-board behavior
- JetBlue plans to outsource airport operations at (more) smaller destinations
- Norwegian set to restart European services from 1 July
- Jilted travelers get aggressive in seeking airline refund enforcement from the DOT
- LATAM Argentina, LEVEL Europe face bankruptcy
- Air Canada launches half-priced Aeroplan rewards in North America
- AirShield proposes curtains of air to separate passengers in flight
- Curing Catering Concerns: The Weekly Wrap–19 June 2020
- A big hint that British Airways will retire its 747s soon
- JetBlue’s crazy summer of new routes
- Air Canada fights back on refund demands, disputes DOT authority
- JetBlue pilots secure no furlough deal through April 2021
- Peek inside the largest converted cargo aircraft flying today
- ZIM Flugsitz seeks insolvency protection
- JetBlue launches trial for Honeywell’s UV Cabin System (f/k/a GermFalcon)
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