The American Airlines anti-trust immunized revenue sharing joint venture with British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair is incredibly important to the airline. British Airways is really the focus and they see Heathrow as a hub, and their New York – London flights as a shuttle.
They basically split transatlantic revenue based on the amount of capacity each carrier has in the market. And they make decisions about this capacity, and their schedules, in coordination with each other. So now that British Airways is flying an Airbus A380 between Chicago and London that’s clearly because American and British Airways together think there’s that much more demand for travel between those cities.
American Boeing 787-8 in Chicago
In fact, responding to an employee question about British Airways flying an A380 and a 747 in addition to American’s four daily Boeing 787s Chicago – Heathrow, American Airlines Vice President – Planning Vasu Raja suggested that rather than being too much capacity, it’s not enough capacity. And despite British Airways flying premium seat heavy aircraft, they don’t have enough premium seats in that market.
It’s not enough. We don’t have enough seats into Heathrow…Heathrow is our hub just as Chicago is or Dallas is… when you think Heathrow think Dallas it’s the same way, we can’t be big enough. We would be bigger at Heathrow if we had more slots to operate there.
Increasingly what you’ll see with us at Heathrow, BA will do things such as flying to more cities outside our hubs. They’ve flown recently to Austin, to Nashville, to New Orleans. They’re going to probably do more of that stuff. We will fly bigger and bigger jets from the hubs that we have. … not enough seats, and not enough business class seats.
Interestingly American Airlines is predicting that British Airways will fly to more mid-sized US cities than they do today, and that American is going to increase the size of the planes they fly to London Heathrow.
However despite complaining that there aren’t enough premium seats flying Chicago – London, American currently plans to reduce the number of premium seats flying Chicago – London (and to reduce the number of premium seats on two major aircraft types they fly).
They’re removing business class seats from Boeing 777-200s that today offer 45 business class seats and standardizing the model at just 37 business class seats. That completes the transition from old (legacy American) management’s plan for Boeing 777-200s to new (legacy US Airways) management’s plan for the aircraft type.
American Boeing 787-8 Concept D Business Class
They’re also going to have to take business class seats from Boeing 787-8s when they add premium economy to that aircraft. That’s the plane type which currently flies Chicago O’Hare – London Heathrow.