American Airlines Set For Big Growth Out Of Dallas And Charlotte

If you have ever tried to book a connecting itinerary on American Airlines, you have likely seen plenty of options through Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). Dallas is American’s largest hub, while Charlotte comes in second place. The key factor with both of these hubs is that American Airlines is set to grow even more out of both airports.

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American Airlines has received new gates at Dallas and Charlotte that are preparing the airline for growth. Photo: DFW Airport

American Airlines gets more gates

At both airports, American Airlines has access to more gates. This includes 19 additional gates at Dallas, while there are four additional gates available in Charlotte compared to pre-pandemic infrastructure. Another three gates will open up in Charlotte later this year. This sets the airline up for incredible growth.

Dallas/Fort Worth is already American’s largest hub. Pre-pandemic, the carrier was flying 900 daily departures out of the hub, making it the largest in American’s history and one of the most significant airports. Passengers looking to travel domestically, whether from Omaha to Tampa, Fresno to Richmond, or Anchorage to Austin, will likely find a connecting itinerary through Dallas.

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DFW is American’s largest hub. Photo: DFW Airport

This August, AA is planning to have domestic operations that are larger than August 2019. Buoying this is the redistribution of some widebodies that would previously fly long-haul international sectors to Asia on key domestic routes and an overall increase in domestic connectivity to handle the increased leisure demand.

Charlotte will be able to handle over 700 daily departures. This was a milestone the carrier hit shortly before the crisis hit, but it had to severely pull back operations in the wake of the massive drop-off in demand and travel restrictions. This is one of American’s core hubs, however, and has come back incredibly strong.

Why Charlotte and Dallas are proving winners

American Airlines has hubs across the country. This includes Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK/LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), Phoenix (PHX), and Washington D.C. (DCA), in addition to DFW and CLT. It also now has a major partner gateway in Seattle (SEA).

Dallas and Charlotte are ideal hubs for American Airlines. The carrier faces no major competition in either hub, which is not true for Chicago or New York, and they were already primed for impressive growth. As pre-pandemic leading airports for American Airlines, the carrier already had the footprint to put those hubs back together as the recovery continued.

American Airlines Set For Big Growth Out Of Dallas And Charlotte
American, even pre-crisis, placed Charlotte and Dallas high up in the carrier’s hub rankings. Photo: Getty Images.

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These two airports were also heavy domestic hubs for American Airlines. With international travel restrictions, Americans turned to their metaphorical backyards and explored more of their home country. This led to expanded capacity and flights off to destinations like Bozeman, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and – most of all – Florida.

Dallas, as a mid-continent hub, is great for numerous traffic flows. Whether it be traffic heading from one coast to the other, traffic from the Pacific Northwest to Florida, from the Southeast to the Southwest, the mid-Atlantic to Hawaii, or the Midwest to the South, Dallas is not too far out of the way for most passengers to make sense as a connecting itinerary.

Dallas is also expected to get a new Terminal F once more travel demand starts to come back. This will further expand American’s capabilities at the airport, though it remains to be seen when that project officially comes to fruition.

Charlotte is also ideal for capturing traffic flows down to Florida and connecting the East Coast to the West Coast, Southwest, Mountain West, Midwest, and more. During the crisis, the airline also launched a nonstop Charlotte to Honolulu flight to cater to increased demand for flights to Hawaii.

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American Airlines has expanded its capacity to major markets like Florida, Hawaii, and California from both hubs. Photo: Getty Images

What about other hubs?

While most airlines brought their coastal hubs back slower, American Airlines embarked on a significant expansion out of New York – especially out of JFK. American Airlines came into the crisis with a smaller footprint than its large peers like Delta and United in the area.

However, buoyed by a partnership (the Northeast Alliance) with JetBlue, the airline decided to grow its footprint significantly out of JFK as demand started to come back and to put up a fight for its share of travelers in the region.

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Even with Dallas and Charlotte coming out on top, American has not shied away from growth in other hubs. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Two more very important hubs for AA are Phoenix and Miami. Phoenix has been an important destination during the crisis as well as a connecting hub for many regional destinations in the western United States. Miami, meanwhile, is American’s gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean – which has been one of the stronger international markets throughout the crisis. American has come back strong in this market and is putting up a fight in Miami against the growing competition.

Another major hub, Washington D.C., has also seen significant improvements from American Airlines. The carrier has ended single-class regional jet flying from DCA and has benefited from an expanded new concourse that marked the closure of Gate 35X, DC’s most hated gate. This was not really a gate but a chaotic waiting room for passengers waiting to take the bus to their plane, mostly operated by regional jets, from a remote hardstand.

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American’s team has been working on its international network pre-crisis and will continue to do so. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Chicago was a sort of hub in transformation for American Airlines before the crisis hit. While capturing traffic flows heading from one coast to the other and a great point for connecting traffic from smaller Midwestern US destinations, American had started to pivot the hub more toward transatlantic flying after cutting most of its Asia portfolio. There is still some work left for American Airlines at this hub, though it is fiercely competitive. United Airlines also runs a massive operation out of ORD.

Another transatlantic hub, Philadelphia, has also seen a slower rebound, largely because American used it as a gateway to Europe. However, American has brought back a good portion of its Philadelphia network both domestically and internationally as international travel has started to come back. The airline intends to maintain its Philadelphia hub alongside the expanded New York operations.

Are you glad to see American Airlines come back strong in Dallas and Charlotte? Let us know in the comments!

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