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.