For months I’ve been writing that American was considering a major pullback of their Asia routes from Chicago. They announced the elimination of Chicago – Beijing after losing as much as $100 million on the route but their other Asia flying — Shanghai and Tokyo — wasn’t performing much better.
I suggested that Shanghai seemed like a goner, but that Tokyo might survive because of their joint venture across the Pacific with Japan Airlines which helps them with connecting traffic beyond Tokyo.
- Today American Airlines has announced that they’re suspending service between Chicago and Shanghai with the last departure to Shanghai on October 26 and last return to Chicago on October 27. American risks another airline picking up route authority to China in their place, but will ask the Department of Transportation to hold the spot for them.
- They’re also reducing Chicago – Tokyo Narita service down to three days a week effective December 18. For June through August Japan Airlines will increase its flying with an additional four roundtrips per week so that combined they offer two daily roundtrips.
Meanwhile American is scaling up service to Europe with 9 new routes, all but one of which will be seasonal, a strategy we saw a lot of from US Airways.
American is launching Munich service from both Dallas Fort-Worth and Charlotte. Only Charlotte’s service will initially be planned as year-round. Dallas will also get a Dublin flight. Both of these announcements have been expected.
In June I wrote that authorities in Dubrovnik were looking for service to New York. I was skeptical, but wrote that if this happened it would be Boeing 767 service from Philadelphia which is exactly what we’re getting.
American Airlines Boeing 767 Business Class
Last month American’s Vice President – Planning Vasu Raja told employees that their Budapest and Prague flights are some of their most profitable to Europe so it makes sense for them to continue experimenting to the East and a 767 gives them a low cost way to do that with plenty of connecting feed through Philadelphia.
We’re also going to see summer Europe flying from Philadelphia to Edinburgh, Berlin, and Bologna. Notably there’s no new routes to Europe announced from New York JFK where American seems largely to have given up on everything outside of their premium transcons and London Heathrow.
Chicago will get an Athens flight. Greece remains a mess, but the only current Athens services competitors fly in the U.S. is from the New York area. I’m surprised to see the flight go to Chicago when they’re already flying there from Philadelphia but it may be an aircraft utilization issue — Chicago is home to several 787-8s, and American’s reduction in Shanghai and Tokyo flying frees up 787-8s which is what they’ll use to fly to Greece.
American Boeing 787-8 in Chicago
On a daily seasonal basis they’re adding capacity to Phoenix – London alongside the current joint venture partner British Airways’ daily flight. This has been in the works for some time and last week American told employees in written question and answer that they were looking at long haul service from Phoenix. It was clear we’d see them flying Phoenix – London Heathrow.
New flights will be available for sale August 27th, and it’s a good idea to check for award availability at that time. New routes don’t always get loaded with award inventory, but they often do. As tough as transatlantic premium cabin redemptions can be on American, it’s worth watching out for.