This May Be Why New New York – U.K. Flights Make Strategic Sense for American Airlines

Earlier today I wrote about new American Airlines international routes.

New York JFK – Birmingham and Edinburgh in the UK and Miami – Frankfurt. They’re also launching a second Los Angeles – London flight at the end of March.

One Mile at a Time wrote about the routes as well and comes off surprised at the two new U.K. routes. He thinks they’re inconsistent with how American describes their New York strategy.

The way I’ve viewed their future in New York is that they’re trying to serve mostly “local” passengers, while most passengers connecting to Europe would route through Philadelphia, for example. I can’t imagine New York to Birmingham or Edinburgh are really big enough markets if the goal is to almost exclusively fly “local” passengers. If they were relying mostly on connecting passengers, Philadelphia seems like a more logical option.

American is pretty clearly trying to serve other markets and bring passengers to New York with their JFK and LaGuardia operations.

That’s why you don’t see them offering service in competitive business markets with significant service by other airlines to their own hubs like Denver, Minneapolis, Houston, or Atlanta.

On the other hand American has plenty of corporate contracts especially for the transatlantic flights. And they have a strong joint venture partner with a local customer base in the UK.

So perhaps the strategy here is to bring UK passengers from outside metro London to New York, just like American is trying to do in the domestic market, with additional demand fro the local New York market and some connecting traffic.

I’d guess that New York is a much bigger destination for the local UK folks than Philadelphia is! And that’s why it would make sense to build the capacity at JFK rather than Philadelphia.

The only question then is why do the flight with the American Airlines brand rather than the British Airways one? And that may be about right-sized aircraft. American will operate 757’s on these thing routes, and those might make more sense than sticking a British Airways widebody there.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why BA aren’t handling flights from the regions?

    Simple: British Airways aren’t know as London Airways for nothing. There’s zero long haul presence outside Heathrow or Gatwick, and minimal presence of shorthaul equipment in the regions. That, and BA’s smallest long haul aircraft are now 767s or 787s (excluding the A318 shuttle service).

    Or what’s called a “business decision”. One that’s let Emirates and Etihad in to scoop up a lot of Eastbound traffic.

  2. Yup, BA has no ability to handle this at all with no long-haul planes based anywhere except London.

    I get a sneaky feeling that they have learnt stuff from US. I mean, look at these US routes from the UK and Ireland:

    Dublin to Philadelphia
    Manchester to Charlotte
    Manchester to Philadelphia
    Edinburgh to Philadelphia
    Glasgow to Philadelphia

    If route that obscure are making money then anything directly to New York should be fine!

  3. @Raffles, Agreed, the autor is a little ill-informed to think that British Airways has a local customer base in these places. They really don’t.

    Not only is it known as London Airways, but there is a reason why people in the regions much prefer transferring at ABL than LHR.

    For those of you who don’t know where ABL is, it’s anywhere but London.

  4. The reason BA doesn’t offer this service out of non-London airports is efficiency of maintenance operations. In general, airlines setup maintenance operations at their hubs. It’s why BA added LHR-AUS and not AA.

  5. Will the next generation of 737 be capable of routes like these? A number of airlines fly these smaller market trans-Atlantic routes with 757s, but they are not fuel efficient and they aren’t getting any newer. I’m wondering what the long-term plan is.

  6. I’m pleased with these route additions and as others have said this is AA adding flights to/from their own hub, which wouldn’t be the case for BA. Can’t see EDI-JFK not doing well, the United EDI-EWR one always seems pretty booked up. Sadly still get stung for the massive APD charges, but could be handy on a one-way back to the UK where this wouldn’t be the case.

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