American Airlines announced several new international routes this week. Is there any deeper strategy we can discern in the new routes?
American will return to Tel Aviv, begin service to Africa for the first time, and expand in Eastern Europe. New routes will include:
- Chicago (ORD) to Krakow, Poland (KRK) and begins May 7, 2020
- Chicago (ORD) to Budapest, Hungary (BUD) begins May 7, 2020
- Chicago (ORD) to Prague, Czech Republic (PRG) begins May 8, 2020
- Philadelphia (PHL) to Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) begins June 4, 2020
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV) begins September 9, 2020
|DFW||Tel Aviv, Israel||TLV||3x/week||787-9||Year-round, starting Sept. 9, 2020|
|PHL||Casablanca, Morocco||CMN||3x/week||757||June 4–Sept. 8|
|ORD||Krakow, Poland||KRK||5x/week||787-8||May 7–Oct. 23|
|ORD||Prague, Czech Republic||PRG||5x/week||787-8||May 8–Oct. 24|
|ORD||Budapest, Hungary||BUD||4x/week||787-8||May 7–Oct. 24|
My observations on the new routes:
While United has stated its service to Tel Aviv is profitable and expanded Tel Aviv service beyond Newark to San Francisco and Washington Dulles, US Airways pulled out of Tel Aviv (from Philadelphia) because it was losing money. But much has changed since then. In the fuel-efficient Dreamliner era, this new route makes sense. In fact, I am surprised AA is waiting more than a year to start it.
With Royal Air Maroc (RAM) set to join oneworld in 2020, a flight between Philadelphia and Casablanca makes a lot of sense to connect AA passengers with RAM’s regional network and to connect RAM passengers to AA. That said, the flight will only operate seasonally three times per week on a 757. But at 3,698 miles, the flight is not quite as long as you might initially assume.
Hungary + Poland + Czeceh Republic
LOT’s loss is AA’s gain. While LOT has pulled out of Chicago – Budapest (in favor of Seoul), AA will add seasonal service. As Vasu Raja notes in the video below, AA is focusing on transatlantic from Chicago and will continue to shift away from Asia.
Watch Vasu Raja, Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning, talking about the new routes below:
No new routes for Miami, Charlotte, or Los Angeles, at least not in this announcement. But with the new joint venture with Qantas approved and Haneda slot awards, I’d expect the next round will at least implicate Los Angeles.
Chicago’s a tough market and AA is targeting transatlantic flights that United chose not to. The Casablanca trial will be an interesting one. If successful, I predict a potential flight from Charlotte and/or Miami, both a tad longer (just over 4,000 miles) than Philadelphia.
AA is taking a conservative approach, but each of these five new routes should perform well. It’s too early to note any emerging trends in AA’s international route map, beyond a pivot away from Asia.
AA’s early route announcements set the stage for easier access to Africa and Eastern Europe for oneworld flyers. Plus, the return to Tel Aviv in a new Dallas market will make it easier than ever before to reach Israel. As for the larger strategy, we’ll have to wait and see.