American Airlines Announces New Shanghai To Seattle Plans Amid International Reset

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American Airlines announced a reset of its international network for 2021 through summer next year. As part of this, the carrier wants to move its existing Los Angeles (LAX) to Shanghai (PVG) service to operate out of Seattle (SEA). This is part of a broader shakeup of the airline’s international long-haul routes.

American Airlines 787-8 Dreamliner
American Airlines is resetting its international long-haul operations. Photo: Getty Images

New Seattle to Shanghai service

While Seattle is not an American Airlines hub, it is a hub for Alaska Airlines. Alaska, which is a significant American partner and plans on joining the oneworld alliance in 2021, does not operate any widebodies. Thus, it cannot fly any long-haul international routes.

Thanks to American’s partnership with Alaska, the former is essentially getting a brand new West Coast hub out of Seattle. This will allow the carrier to offer more connections and build up a better transpacific service. The current plan is to move existing Los Angeles to Shanghai flights to run out of Seattle. This will see American competing directly with Delta on the route.

Alaska and American
Alaska and American have a close partnership. Photo: Getty Images

Previously, American announced new services to Bengaluru (BLR) and London (LHR). Both of those are still on the table and are slated to start in 2021.

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The overall international landscape

American anticipates summer 2021 long-haul international capacity to be 25% lower than what it was 2019. The carrier, which has previously announced some exciting new long-hauls, is now moving away from those routes to focus on markets that “create unique connectivity for customers,” per a press release viewed by Simple Flying.

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American’s Chief Revenue Officer, Vasu Raja, stated the following:

“American will have a significantly smaller international network in the year ahead, but we are using this opportunity to hit reset and create a network using the strength of our strategic hubs that we can build and grow upon and be profitable on in this new environment.”

Travel demand for international flying remains low. This is amid an economic crunch that has affected millions of people worldwide, border closures, uncertainty, and some unease among passengers when it comes to long-haul international flying. Thus, several long-haul leisure routes will be discontinued amid decreased demand.

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Getty Images
Some of the cuts make sense amid American retiring older planes like the 767 and 757. Photo: Getty Images

American’s long-haul flying for the next few years will consist entirely of Boeing 777 and 787 services.

Resetting international routes

As part of the cuts as mentioned above, American will exit three transatlantic routes from Charlotte (CLT) and another three from Philadelphia (PHL). At the same time, Los Angeles will see cuts on five underperforming routes to Asia and South America. Below is the full list of cuts from each city.

Charlotte:

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  • Barcelona (BCN)
  • Rome (FCO)
  • Paris (CDG)

Dallas:

  • Munich (MUC)

Los Angeles:

  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Buenos Aires (EZE)
  • Sao Paulo (GRU)
  • Beijing (PEK)
  • Shanghai (PVG) [subject to approval for new SEA to PVG service]

Miami:

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  • Brasilia (BSB)
  • Milan (MXP)

Chicago:

  • Venice (VCE)

Philadelphia:

  • Berlin (TXL)
  • Budapest (BUD)
  • Dubrovnik (DBV)

Also, American will not launch previously-announced services from Chicago to Budapest, Prague (PRG), Krakow (KRK), and flights from Philadelphia to Casablanca (CMN). This makes sense and is in line with American’s recovery as American’s Vice President of Network Planning, Brian Znotins, stated to Simple Flying in an exclusive interview from early June. These niche routes will be pushed out a few years as the carrier waits for demand to rebound and its new Airbus A321XLRs.

American 757
757 retirements have pushed routes like Philadelphia to Casablanca out until American has a suitable replacement. Photo: Getty Images

Moving forward, American is planning on using its largest hub in Dallas (DFW) as the airline’s major transpacific hub. Miami will remain American’s largest hub for flying to Latin America. And, Philadelphia will be the airline’s primary gateway to Europe.

American Airlines Dallas
DFW, MIA, and PHL will be American’s main long-haul gateways. Photo: Getty Images

Building up a full schedule at Heathrow

London-Heathrow is a hub for fellow oneworld and joint business partner British Airways. Thanks to the breadth of connections that British Airways can offer out of Heathrow, American anticipates flying its full schedule to LHR by 2021. Much of this will be done jointly with British Airways.

Getty American Airlines oneworld
American has, historically, leveraged its oneworld partner hubs on. Photo: Getty Images

The full updated schedule:

Here is American’s full, updated international schedule:

Charlotte:

  • Frankfurt (FRA); service resumes in summer 2021
  • LHR; service resumes winter 2020
  • MUC; service restarts in winter 2020

Chicago:

  • BCN; service resumes in summer 2021
  • Dublin (DUB); service resumes summer 2021
  • CDG; service resumes summer 2021

Dallas:

  • Beijing (PEK); service resumes in summer 2021
  • EZE; service resumes winter 2020
  • Lima (LIM); service resumes winter 2020
  • GRU; restart planned for winter 2020
  • FCO; resumption planned for summer 2021
  • Santiago (SCL); resumes in summer 2021
  • Tel Aviv (TLV); will launch in winter 2021

Los Angeles:

  • Auckland (AKL); launches in winter 2021
  • LHR; resumes in winter 2020
  • Sydney (SYD); service resumes in summer 2021

New York-JFK:

  • CDG; service resumes this winter
  • BCN; resumption planned for summer 2021
  • EZE; planned to resume in winter 2020
  • Rio de Janeiro (GIG); expected restart in winter 2021
  • GRU; service resumes in winter 2020
  • Madrid (MAD); will resume in summer 2021
  • MXP; planned restart in summer 2021

Miami:

  • CDG; service resumes in summer 2021
  • GIG; service resumes in winter 2020
  • GRU; planned restart on August 6th, 2020
  • MAD; planned resumption in summer 2021
  • SCL; service resumption on August 5th, 2020

Philadelphia:

  • Amsterdam (AMS); service resumes in winter 2020
  • DUB; service resumes in winter 2020
  • LHR; service resumes in winter 2020
  • Manchester (MAN); planned restart in summer 2021
  • MAD; restart targeted for winter 2020
  • CDG: planned resumption in summer 2021
  • FCO; service resumes in summer 2021
  • Zurich (ZRH); service will restart in summer 2021

London-Heathrow:

  • Phoenix (PHX); service resumes in winter 2020
  • Raleigh-Durham (RDU); service resumes in winter 2020

Seattle:

  • Bengaluru (BLR); service launch in winter 2021
  • LHR; launch in summer 2021
American Airlines is suspending flights between Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Photo: Getty Images

What is the future of Los Angeles?

Los Angeles, while still a significant operation for AA, was not the size of other hubs like Dallas, Chicago, Charlotte, or Philadelphia. LAX, instead, served as another transpacific gateway for American. American’s hub in Phoenix has mostly been overlooked when it comes to building up international long-haul services with the only real service being off to London-Heathrow on both British Airways and American Airlines.

American Airlines Los Angeles
Los Angeles will likely see fewer long-haul services from American in the next few years. Photo: Getty Images

Now that American has Seattle, it really does not need another long-haul hub in Los Angeles. Plus, LAX still remains well-served to Asia on American’s partners in China Southern, Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific. While American won’t pull out of LAX entirely, it still is looking like the start of downsizing long-haul operations.

Which of these services are you most excited to see return? What do you think about AA’s service changes? Let us know in the comments!

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