American Airlines has chosen to forgo flying a number of international routes due to lack of equipment, but not to worry, Boeing will save the day.
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American Airlines Cuts 2022 International Summer Schedule
American Airlines and its fearless executive team have found the perfect solution to its summer international schedule. They have cut a number of international destinations due to a lack of fleet availability. In this case, American Airlines has replaced a number of routes formerly flown by retired Boeing 757, Boeing 767, and Airbus A330-300 routes with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
However, like the beleaguered 737-MAX, the 787 program has been beset by quality control issues in the manufacturing processes and final assembly. Questions were raised about the ability for newly produced 787s to meet FAA requirements. Much like the MAX line, the FAA has the authority to issue airworthiness certificates and directives that could allow the entire fleet to fly or be grounded.
As mentioned, American had retired a number of aircraft at the beginning of the pandemic ahead of schedule. These aircraft were less fuel-efficient than the new 787s that would replace them. However, delays at Boeing’s North Charleston plan has hampered the delivery processes making operations of the current summer schedule impossible.
Here are the routes suspensions/delays/cuts:
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV)
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Santiago, Chile (SCL)
- Seattle (SEA) to London (Heathrow), England (LHR)
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney, Australia (SYD)
- Miami (MIA) to Saõ Paulo, Brazil (GRU) – reduction from two daily flights to one
This is in addition to the removal of routes the carrier had expanded to in previous years like Prague, and Edinburgh and discontinued long-standing routes like Manchester which at one point was flown from Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York at the same time.
American Could Easily Solve This Problem
What should be frustrating to many American Airlines flyers, is that these routes could easily be flown by equipment the airline currently owns. Dozens of airworthy 757s and 767s the carrier parked in the desert at the start of the pandemic could be readied and returned to service.
Matthew pointed out yesterday that the A330s American put to pasture (many of which American is still paying to lease) is looking like a poor decision. He’s, of course, absolutely right but A330-300s (for example) seated 100 more passengers than the 767-300s used on some of the European routes that American isn’t cancelling now, but did last year and still hasn’t brought back.
For routes like LAX-Sydney where just the 787 and 777s have the legs to fly the distance those planes would have to be utilized. However, shorter routes like Miami-London, Charlotte-Madrid, Philadelphia-Dublin can all be flown with retired aircraft. In the case of Miami-London, where origin and destination traffic demand requires a 777-300ER, a pair of 767 aircraft could fly the route giving flyers more choices for times, offering more seats on the route, and first-class is still available through joint venture partner, British Airways.
There would be some cost to ready those aircraft for service. There would be some loss of fuel efficiency, and upgrades to the cabins might be needed as well – but Boeing would gladly write a smaller check and facilitate that process. It’s not that American Airlines Group leadership can’t make a robust plan to return to a modicum of reasonable service – it’s that they don’t want to.
Why Compete On Routes When Boeing Will Cover It?
As the source of the delays is the aircraft manufacturer’s inability to deliver the product, American Airlines is compensated for routes they aren’t going to be able to fly.
AA 787-related network update: pic.twitter.com/6dMoBsESTu
— ˜”*° JonNYC °*”˜ (@xJonNYC) February 18, 2022
My favorite part of that statement from American Airlines leadership:
“Further reducing our international flying schedule this summer is a difficult decision, but ultimately, the right one for our team members and customers.”
Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. It’s only the right decision because American can’t compete on product, reliability, or experience and Boeing will write them a check anyway – why bother?
While American Airlines takes yet another gutless decision that shields them from the consequences of their uninspired service, unexciting product, and woefully shortsighted decisions, I can only laugh mirthlessly. When will the chickens come home to roost? Not so long as there is someone else to bail them out, last time it was the American public, this time it’s Boeing, who’s next?
What do you think? Is American choosing to punt on solving this fleet problem? Is this the normal course of doing business?
The great thing about America is you can put your money where your opinion is by shorting AA stock. You wouldn’t be the only one doing it. And it would have been profitable over the past few years.
Opportunity is knocking if you feel AA is as bad as you say it is. Will you hear it?
I don’t think AA’s going to get that much $$ from Boeing, unless Boeing decides to do so as a goodwill gesture. AA’s going to have to establish its lost profits for the canceled flights, and if they were all that profitable, AA probably wouldn’t have canceled them to begin with.
Nice article. The derision is well deserved. I’m trying to remember the last two things AA did that benefited the customer but not the company. Still waiting… How about the same for regular employees? Umm, never mind. Executives? Bingo!! That pretty much sums up American Airlines today.
Just one more example of Dougie Parker not being able to see the proverbial forest through the trees. Simply brilliant long-term business planning management (not… imo). Happy trails to him.
Whereas DL and UA (and their planning/forecasting management practices) appear to have planes and pilots for increasing the number of international flights this coming summer in order to meet the expected travel demands.
One thing you fail to take in to consideration is AA’s immunized metal neutral alliances which share revenue in various regions, can pick up some of the slack that AA can’t fly. Qantas, BA, and Iberia all have lots of wide bodies lying around that can take up some of the slack that AA can’t fly. Iberia is going to take over the second DFW-MAD at a less than daily frequency, Qantas probably can cover the LAX-SYD demand due to reduced demand because of Covid restrictions. BA will pick up the slack on SEA-LHR. The reduction of oneworld international coverage is less than you write about because of partners filling in where AA can’t. Also Asia demand is way down which opens up a lot of aircraft time. The Dubrovniks and Krakóws of the system get deferred, and the weakest of AA’s current routes I assume, but they’ll be back in 2023 (hopefully if Boeing gets its ducks in a row), and the A321XLR comes late in 2023 opening up all new opportunities. I used work in AA network planning many moons ago but have no recent knowledge of network demand or fare levels. I look forward to the many routes that will be added by 2024 as the new 321s and 787s get delivered and demand has hopefully returned including higher yield business demand.
Yeah.. I avoid American at all costs, Delta gets most of my airline money, at least domestically.
There’s absolutely no chance AA could run Miami-London on their old 767s. They were in shambolic condition, and if you fly between a domestic hub and arguably your largest international destination with that type of experience, you’re going to turn off a lot of elites and passengers.
I think more touristy routes like Philadelphia-Dublin are the only places where AA would be able to continue to get away with flying them.
American can’t compete on “product,” versus who? United 787s dont even have all aisle access in J. B/E Aerospace seats used in the 789 are the same as the ones used on BA, QR, numerous other international top of the line carriers. So what on earth are you talking about. And with the joint venture partners, AA doesn’t need metal to fly to SYD or Europe when BA/IB can pick up the slack. Un-retiring an aircraft isn’t as simple as flying it out of the desert to DFW. They’d have to be re-certified, crew re-trained. Massive expenditures for little to no gain. And if AA is so terrible, why are you so butt hurt that they’re not flying these routes lol. I dont work for AA, i just find this so amusing, considering your boy Matthew still chases top status with them and flies them often. Do you know something he doesn’t? haha
Tony I agree. American cannot compete on service, etc. and must have money from the government (taxpayers) and Boeing. Things will improve as Parker is leaving!
Don’t forget flight attendants and pilots would have to requalify on the 757/767 since they have not been a part of Continuing Qualification training. It’s not worth the expense.
Aviation blogger doesn’t know enough about avaiation to relaize that all the pilots have been moved off these fleets and are no longer current on them. Retraining them would take time, if said training bandwidth were even available (and with all the mainline hiring going-on right now, it isn’t).
Many of the 757s/767s are already cut up or returned to lessors as well.
But trained pilots is the long pole in the tent, even if the retired fleets we’re available and could be made ready for the summer.
I guess that’s why he’s an avaiation blogger and not airline management.
@William Martin – Let’s review those one by one.
1) Yes it would take time and money to re-certify, absolutely. But re-certifying a 767 pilot that flew the type for 20 years is not going to be far easier and shorter than certifying them on new aircraft. Neither the pilots, crew, nor aircraft are new to the system. I mention in the post that this is not without cost and time commitments.
2) None of the 757/767s were leased. Some A330s were but that’s not what I’m calling for. And while I haven’t been to the “airplane graveyard” to review standing inventory – I can assure you that “many” are not “already cut up.” Even if some in the fleet were (doubtful), out of dozens (perhaps more than a hundred) aircraft retired, the carrier only needs about 10-15 to fly the schedule they anticipated. There are at least that many that could be made ready if American wanted to offer service.
3) Airline management you suggest is aspirational. It’s not. On the balance sheet, American resembles a Ponzi scheme with more debt than they could realistically pay off in 30 years of good management. The same management group couldn’t find profits from flying people and cargo during peak travel (highest levels ever reached) in 2018/19 because they are so terribly incompetent. The missteps are breathtaking at that carrier in particular. From service levels to well documented labor strife – no one, anywhere – gives American’s management accolades.
Also: *This *realize