Revealed: American Airlines’ Long-Haul 2022 Cuts
American Airlines uploaded its long-haul 2022 schedule. The airline is making some deep cuts as a result of delays to its Boeing 787 deliveries. The airline is short 13 of the smaller 787-8 jets it planned to have to run its operations next summer, and deliveries remain paused as Boeing works with regulators. As a result of this uncertainty, American has been forced to pull down a fair bit of flying for next summer.
Asia and the South Pacific take a hit
Based on schedule updates filed at Cirium, the airline has cut four long-haul routes from its 2022 schedule in Asia and the South Pacific:
- Dallas (DFW) to Beijing (PKX)
- Dallas (DFW) to Hong Kong (HKG)
- Seattle (SEA) to Bangalore (BLR)
- Seattle (SEA) to Shanghai (PVG)
Two others faced cuts. Dallas (DFW) to Shanghai (PVG) is suspended in March, but will return in April with two flights per week. When service resumes, American will fly a Boeing 777-200ER on the route featuring room for 273 passengers. To Australia, American Airlines is cutting capacity to Sydney. From April, the airline will only fly three weekly operations to Sydney (SYD) from Los Angeles (LAX) using a Boeing 787-9, with room for 285 passengers.
Cutting these routes is not necessarily surprising, given the state of travel between the US and Asia. China and Hong Kong have noted entry restrictions that have barred almost all foreigners and complicated flight operations. Bangalore, meanwhile, is more dependent on corporate travel, which has not yet resumed. In addition, the Bangalore flight is dependent on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to operate, given the length of the flight. It was supposed to launch with a Boeing 787-9, and that will likely be the aircraft that launches that route if and when American decides to bring it back.
In other news, in the Middle East, American is making a change to its Dallas (DFW) to Tel Aviv (TLV) route. It will stay at three weekly flights ahead of next summer. However, the route will change from a Boeing 787-9 to a Boeing 777-200ER.
Europe takes some hits
Transatlantic summer travel between the United States and Europe is one of the most lucrative and high-demand markets. American is making some cuts here, but trying to preserve the schedule as much as possible. Two cities, Edinburgh (EDI) and Shannon (SNN), both served from Philadelphia (PHL) will be off the books indefinitely. Prague (PRG) and Dubrovnik (DBV) are also not slated to resume next summer.
American is also pulling down some other flights. Miami (MIA) to Paris (CDG) will not operate next summer. Dallas (DFW) to Paris (CDG) will also go down from two daily flights to one daily operation. A Boeing 787-9 will connect the North Texas hub with the French capital.
Cuts in South America
American also made several cuts in South America. This includes some smaller moves, like moving next summer from a Boeing 777-300ER to a 777-200ER on its flight between New York (JFK) and Sao Paulo (GRU). Others were more sizable.
Dallas (DFW) will see cuts to two long-haul South American destinations. Buenos Aires (EZE) will move from daily Boeing 787-8 operations to three weekly flights. Santiago (SCL) will see cuts from daily operations down to three weekly flights using a Boeing 777-200ER. Both cities will continue to see service to other American hubs, including Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK). However, American’s Miami to Buenos Aires service will lose four weekly services and move to ten flights per week. This includes a daily service on the Boeing 777-200ER and three weekly flights on the 787-8.
Making up for some of the cuts
It is not all bad news. American Airlines is making some network restoration and cushioning the blow against the cuts. For example, American will bring back daily Boeing 787-8 service between Venice (VCE) and Philadelphia (PHL) next summer. Daily service between Charlotte (CLT) and Rome (FCO) will also operate using a Boeing 777-200ER.
American Airlines is also adding service to its partner hubs. Here, customers can connect to destinations American has either cut or does not serve, allowing it to still offer flights to various destinations in a more efficient manner with the reduced aircraft shell count that it has. One of these examples includes the airline’s new route from New York (JFK) to Doha (DOH). This flight will target connections from American to Qatar Airways for destinations to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
However, another of American’s partner hubs is getting a boost. London-Heathrow (LHR) will see more flight operations in July 2022 than it saw in July 2019. Four of American’s routes will see increased service to London next year:
- Philadelphia (PHL) to LHR sees a gauge increase from two daily Boeing 777-200ER to two daily Boeing 787-9 operations
- Chicago (ORD) to LHR sees a gauge increase from four daily Boeing 777-200ER operations to four daily Boeing 787-9s
- New York (JFK) to LHR will have three daily Boeing 777-300ER operations and one daily Boeing 777-200ER flight
- Dallas (DFW) to LHR will see four daily Boeing 777-300ER operations
This is on top of the flights American plans to operate from Boston (BOS), Charlotte (CLT), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Phoenix (PHX), Raleigh (RDU), and Seattle (SEA) to LHR. Customers can connect to a British Airways flight to destinations across Europe.
Will markets return?
In a memo to American’s employees, Chief Revenue Officer, Vasu Raja, highlighted that the shortage of 13 widebody aircraft was putting a crunch on the airline’s network. As a result, it decided to suspend service to Edinburgh (EDI), Shannon (SNN), and Hong Kong (HKG). Prague (PRG) and Dubrovnik (DBV) are also not operating. American left the door open to operate these routes in the future. Speaking to Simple Flying, Brian Znotins, American’s Vice President of Network & Schedule Planning, stated the following on the airline’s cuts and what to make of them:
“Nothing is ever for good in the airline business. So the way to think about it is we don’t have immediate plans to return to those markets. But two, three years from now, as we get XLRs, and Boeing gets their stuff together on delivering airplanes to us, if we think there’s a great opportunity, you know, demand to Hong Kong is surging, and the competitive environment is under supplying the market, then we’ll obviously evaluate returning to those markets at that time. But what we’re not saying is that these markets are definitely coming back in future seasons. We’re saying they’re out of our network indefinitely. But we’re certainly open to resuming them in the future if market conditions warrant.”
Hong Kong is a hub for partner Cathay Pacific. Before the crisis hit, American flew two daily operations to Hong Kong. Using the flagship Boeing 777-300ER, the airline operated from both Los Angeles (LAX) and Dallas (DFW) to HKG. Given that Hong Kong has shown little to no signs of opening up anytime soon, American is deciding that it does not make sense to service this destination for as long as market conditions remain as they are.
Separately, the leisure tourist destinations to Europe are much thinner routes. Here, the Airbus A321XLR will be key for offering capacity. Designed to replace the Boeing 757-200, and to an extent the 767-300ER, this aircraft will likely enable the return of several of those destinations.
The second question is if American would be able to bring back destinations if Boeing is able to resume deliveries. Here is what Mr. Znotins had to say on that:
“It depends on the city and it depends on the market. So if [Boeing] told us 120 days to 150 days in advance, we think we could throw that capacity into some European markets and have it work. If they’re telling us 60 days in advance, maybe we use that airplane in a short haul market like a Cancun where there’s a shorter demand curve.”
American is flying less next summer than it initially expected, and it says it is flying less than it believes demand warrants. This could lead to a sizable change in the market next summer, with American offering fewer transatlantic…