American has made it pretty clear they want to win Los Angeles, the way that Delta has worked to win New York. Both are major US markets, and hyper-competitive.
It’s a huge departure in strategy for the former US Airways management team, that loved routes where they didn’t face non-stop competition. US Airways had very few flights which weren’t to or from hubs, for instance. And their hubs weren’t super-competitive places. (Case in point: they swapped a substantial operation at New York LaGuadia with Delta to be able to grow their dominance at Washington National.)
American has grown both with its own flights — they recently added a Sydney flight (with an improved inflight service), they’re adding Auckland, New Zealand, and they’re adding Tokyo Haneda service and Hong Kong as well not to mention Shanghai with a 787 — and those are all international routes that face competition.
They’ve also grown through joint ventures with Japan Airlines and Qantas across the Pacific, with IAG carriers British Airways and Iberia which service Los Angeles to London and Madrid, and LAN which has seasonal service.
Now announced that they’re launching Los Angeles – Beijing, which Air China serves with up to 18 weekly Boeing 777 flights.
American Airlines has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for daily service between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK).
“This new route would solidify Los Angeles as American’s West Coast gateway to Asia and it would be our only Beijing access from the western United States, creating new connections to one of Asia’s major business and leisure destinations,” said Andrew Nocella, chief marketing officer for American Airlines. “Beijing is one of the world’s great cities, and nonstop service from LAX would be a great complement to our existing China service.”
If approved, American would begin LAX-PEK service on Dec. 16, 2016.
The announcement makes clear this is contingent on approvals, and presumably the public declaration of service with a start date is meant to angle towards gaining that approval.
Just three years ago American CEO Doug Parker told a group of pilots in Los Angeles that he didn’t see growing the airline’s Pacific routes beyond what had been announced at the time (and then even speculated that if they grew it would be out of… Phoenix!). They’ve come a long way in their thinking since then.
And they’re doubling down on China at a time that China itself is struggling economically. American currently serves Beijing from both Chicago and Dallas as well. It will be interesting to see whether Chicago – Bejing, also served by United and Hainan Airlines, survives as they push Pacific flying through Los Angeles.
Both of American’s Los Angeles and Dallas flights are currently served by a Boeing 787. The airline hasn’t announced an aircraft for the new route, but that would be my guess.
American Airlines Boeing 787