American announced that it plans to begin Dallas – Beijing service next year, talking advantage of allowable frequencies between the US and China that aren’t currently being used.
Beijing flying adds to the Hong Kong and Shanghai service from Dallas that began in June, and to the Seoul and Tokyo Narita service that’s already been in place.
American is adding a more substantial Asia presence than before, a presence US Airways never had at all.
The press release doesn’t mention a start date for the service, but does note that the route will be operated by a Boeing 777-200… which will mean their new business class product but no first class.
What’s important here, I think, is that it’s a new Asia route announced by new management. Pre-merger American went forward with Dallas – Shanghai and Dallas – Hong Kong. In some ways it’s surprising to see the legacy US Airways folks plow forward.
- They’re building international flying from Dallas, and it wasn’t obvious that the US Airways folks were going to do that.
- US Airways hadn’t flown to Asia at all, so Asia expansion wasn’t always in the cards.
- My sense had been that US Airways management didn’t love Dallas, either, as an airport or an international gateway. So this is a big move in terms of their commitment to the city, in addition to their commitment to the pre-merger strategy.
Early on in the merger process, beginning of 2013 I’m told that Doug Parker visited with American Airlines pilots in Los Angeles. He was asked about new Asia flying and he replied that wasn’t in the cards.
Apparently Tom Horton stepped in and pointed out that they were just bringing on new routes, would need to learn from those before they added Asia flying. (In other words, he was rescuing Parker from himself.) You don’t tell your pilots they aren’t getting more long haul widebody flying when you want them to stay bought into a merger.
As I heard the story from more than one person, Parker came back to this later in the discussion and hypothesized that they might add Asia flying… from Phoenix.
That of course made no sense, there’s not a meaningful origination/destination traffic mass between Phoenix and Asia, except maybe positioning for a cruise. (Plus it wasn’t strategic to be telling American’s Los Angeles pilots that legacy US Airways would get the good flying.) In any case, LAX is the more natural place to do it, but of course that airport is hugely constrained for growth. Dallas is well positioned to feed traffic for much of the country but also South America.
This is great to see, on many levels. To me, especially, it could be a signal that new leadership may be adapting their thinking from pre-conceived notions about what works (from their US Airways days) and what doesn’t (everything American was trying to do). Now that they’re in place, and see the data, there are a number of things about the old American and its plans that likely do make sense. And when that’s the case, management can be persuaded to continue with it. And that’s a good thing for flyers.
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