There’s mystery surrounding the unexpected cancellation of service between Miami and Tel Aviv on American Airlines, but I have a theory: too much competition as American Airlines continues to struggle with a widebody aircraft shortage.
American Airlines Cancels Miami – Tel Aviv Route After Moving It From 4X Weekly To Daily
We have seen a huge growth in transatlantic travel to Tel Aviv over the last few years. United Airlines, for example, serves Tel Aviv from Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), and Washington (IAD). It used to just be Newark. Delta Air Lines serves Tel Aviv from Boston (BOS) and New York (JFK) and will add service from Atlanta (ATL) this spring.
Tel Aviv may not be the most premium market, but demand is strong and therefore it was no surprise when American Airlines announced it would launch service from Miami (MIA) to Tel Aviv. Not only did it launch service in June 2021 with four weekly flights, but made the route daily in October 2022, which typically indicates the route was performing well. More recently, though, American Airlines downguaged the route from a Boeing 777-200 to a Boeing 787-8, which features only 20 seats in business class.
In a statement concerning the route cancellation, American Airlines said:
As part of the continuous evaluation of our network, American Airlines has made the difficult decision to discontinue its Miami (MIA) – Tel Aviv (TLV) service effective March 24, 2023. We will continue to operate daily service to Tel Aviv from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK). We’re proactively reaching out to customers affected by these changes to offer alternate travel arrangements.
So what caused this cancellation?
We book a lot of Award Expert clients to Tel Aviv and have noticed that fares over the last year have been suspocpisly attractive. This is anecdotal, not quantitative data, but my hunch is that American Airlines saw the expansion from Delta and United (and Israeli flag carrier EL-AL too) and thought that its aircraft could better be utilized in other markets.
With China re-opening and demand and fares high, my prediction is that we will see more Mainland China service from American Airlines, a comparatively more profitable route (for the time being, at least).
The Aircraft Shortage Continues
During the pandemic, American Airlines moved swiftly to retire its Airbus A330 and Boeing 767 fleet, a move that increasingly appears foolish in retrospect. In its defense, American Airlines had planned to receive more Boeing 787 Dreamliners but has encountered delivery delays which have frustrated plans for longhaul expansion.
Dreamliner deliveries resumed in August 2022 after a 15-month delay, but American Airlines still is waiting for 34 (including 30 787-9 deliveries). In 2024, AA will introduce a “high-J” configuration of the the 787-9 featuring 51 seats in business class and closing doors.
I’m not convinced that Tel Aviv was unprofitable, only that it was not profitable enough. I expect if AA had the aircraft capacity, ti would continue to run this route.
In a surprise move, American Airlines is canceling its service between Miami and Tel Aviv. Impacted passengers will be re-booked via New York on American or from Miami on British Airways or Iberia. While AA has not offered specific reasons for its route cancellation, my hunch is that with so much competition to Tel Aviv, the route was not profitable enough.
Why do you think AA cut its MIA-TLV route?
image: American Airlines