American Announces 4 New Cities Served from Miami: What it Tells Us About Their Strategy

American has announced a flight expansion from Miami.

They’re adding once-daily service starting March 5 to:

  • Austin
  • Kansas City
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio

All will be operated by Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and will bring the total of cities served from Miami to over 130.

Each of the flight pairs is an early morning (or in the case of Salt Lake City, redeye) departure for Miami and an evening (7:50pm or 7:55pm) return. That means they’re looking at these flights as bringing passengers to Miami rather than serving the local Miami market.

These flights also work well to take passengers from these cities through Miami to some of their Latin American destinations, and are good for returning from those destinations that have daytime service to Miami.

It’s interesting to see American building up Miami. It’s a huge gateway to Latin America, but that’s also a market where the airline has been hurting — overall economic slowndown relative to a couple of years ago; tons of cash that Venezuela won’t let them repatriate; fears that Argentina could act similarly.

The airport, with all of the construction projects there over the past several years, and that’s ironically been good for American. It’s chased competition away to Fort Lauderdale in search of lower costs leaving the airport for American to dominate heavily.

Key here too is that the cities American is launching service from do not currently have flights to Miami. Salt Lake City, even, though a Delta hub does not have a Miami non-stop. This fits the model we’ve learned to expect in the past from US Airways — looking for flights to and from a hub, where there’s no competition. Potentially smart moves for as many of those city pairs as you can come up with and where there’s potential demand.

American is rebanking its hubs, which is great for passengers when things work well (shorter, more efficient connections) but can be disastrous when they do not work well — too many planes coming into gates that haven’t yet been freed up by other aircraft, missed connections. Miami is one of those places that tightening up banks of flights makes me nervous.

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, 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. heck, I get nervous when I have a 2 hour connection in MIA…worst US airport for international arrival connections in my opinion.

  2. Those are excellent additions. I think another big factor, aside from O/D and Latin America, is access to the Caribbean. DFW only has flights to a handful of destinations in the Caribbean which means many customers from SLC, AUS, MCI and SAT has to double connect via DFW/MIA or fly on another airline.

  3. Being in MCI I love it. The only thing that seems bad is that the early morning arrived in KC at about 10am so say they turn that by 10:30am it would put you into Miami around 2:30pm’ish. That’s not a bad connection time for flights but it’s cutting it a little tight if you wanted to connect to a cruise out of Miami or Port Everglades in FLL. It certainly is nice to get nonstop access to another hub for sure.

  4. Good post and shockingly concise. This post had all the makings of a tome discussing AA’s strategy stretching back to the 1970s. Well done.

  5. Quite the gross and unproven exaggeration to say what is probably AA’s most profitable hub on a per-passenger basis is “hurting” because of the situation in two countries

    What economic slow down are you referring to? The one where MIA’s traffic is up ~40% since 2007 (largely due to AA)? The one where MIA now has more European airlines than any U.S. airport after JFK? The one where local O&D traffic at MIA is at record levels? The one where MIA is finally gaining traction stealing low fare traffic from FLL (ala Frontier; and soon Spirit)?

  6. Non-stop service to MCI? Smart move by AA.

    Southwest offered a FLL-MCI non-stop for a while but that went the way of the dodo bird. I was shocked when last week I found ZERO non-stop flights between MCI and FLL or MCI and MIA.

  7. @Gary Soft guidance does not equal “hurting.” MIA is the crown jewel of the AA network and to imply it is hurting is beyond insane.

  8. @Simon having a billion dollars trapped abroad is hurting. Hurting of course is relative. And I think I flag in my post that MIA is an advantage to AA, ironically in part because of its high costs.

  9. There’s no excuse for planes backing up without gates due to rebanking or any other reason when we sit there for up to a half hour while looking out the window at multiple empty gates. This ridiculous inflexibility is as absurd as being shuttled from the plane with buses at airports where nearly every gate sits empty – this has happened to me twice this year in Europe.

    My other pet peeve which shows that airlines need to cinch up their game has actually had some improvement recently: previously almost every time I landed in Boston we had to wait 20 minutes for someone to come to the plane to let us off. I would always ask the gate agent and could tell by their snotty attitude that they could care less. This may have been Union-related but it to me was a perfect metaphor for what ailed the majors that employees would adopt a devil-may-care attitude about something as important as getting weary passengers off the plane immediately.

    When planes can pull into a close gate (instead of the half hour taxi we had at DFW Wed) without delay and be let off the plane instantly, an airline will know it’s on its game.

  10. This is really good news for the cruise industry. Flights to Miami, non-stops no less, are always in demand. Wonder if any of the cruise lines had input for adding these flights?

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