The Trouble With American Airlines’ Guyana Route

American Airlines is having a spot of trouble with their New York to Guyana Route, with many of their daily flights being diverted or arriving significantly late.

American Airlines
American Airlines operates a Boeing 737-800 on this route. Photo: Getty Images

What are the details?

As discussed by One Mile At A Time, American Airlines’ new direct route from JFK to Georgetown, Guyana, has been plagued by operational issues.

American Airlines
JFK to GEO. American Airlines also flies to Georgetown from Miami. Photo: GC Maps

For background, the route operates on the following JFK to GEO daily frequency:

South Bound
Flight number: AA2896
Leaving New York JFK at 6:00 PM
Arriving Georgetown at 12:40 AM the following day

Flight number: AA2897
Leaving Georgetown at 1:45 AM
Arriving New York JFK at 6:55 AM

The distance is 2,213 nautical miles (rounded up) and American Airlines has a Boeing 737-800 flying the route.

The 737-800 configuration swaps haphazardly between their previous (more legroom) aircraft and their newer ‘Oasis’ configuration. This configuration has more seats and packs 172 passengers on board (up from 160 in their normal Boeing 737-800 aircraft).

American Airlines
American Airlines has a plan to densify its 737-800 fleet to match their (currently grounded) 737 MAX fleet. Photo: American Airlines

What is the issue?

American Airlines has had some trouble with operating this route of late. Many of the daily flights have either arrived hours behind schedule or been diverted to San Juan on the way to Guyana.

Looking over their last few operations on Flight Radar 24:

The Trouble With American Airlines’ Guyana Route
American Airlines New York to Georgetown on Flight Radar 24. Photo: Flight Radar 24

And we are not just picking out a random operation error, as the return trip also seems to be having issues.

Flight Radar 24
The return journey also has some problems. Photo: Flight Radar 24

And it only seems to be this route, with the American Airlines flight from Miami having fewer issues and no diversions.

Flight Radar 24
American Airlines AA1513 – Miami to Georgetown. Photo: Flight Radar 24

What is causing this problem?

As pointed out by One Mile At A Time, these delays and diversions could be caused by the aircraft being too heavy and not having enough fuel to make it to the destinations (thus having to land in San Juan to refuel).

A Boeing 737-800 has a listed range of 2,935 nautical miles (with 162 passengers), so there should be more than enough fuel to make it all the way. However, if the aircraft was consistently heavy with cargo, extra passengers and had to taxi a long way at JFK they may burn much more fuel.

The two flights that got diverted southbound to San Juan were both ‘Oasis‘ configured 737s, with perhaps these extra 12 passengers (and their luggage) causing a significant different fuel burn.

american airlines
Could extra baggage cause an aircraft to divert?. Photo: American Airlines

We should also consider that these flights took place during the Christmas holiday period and may have included passengers flying home with lots of excess baggage with presents. As we can see that most of these diversions and delays happened with the southbound flights and if the OMAAT theory is right, we might see the same pattern unfold northbound at the end of the holidays.

What does American Say?

Simple Flying has reached out to American Airlines to see if they can confirm why this route, in particular, is having issues.

“We are excited to continue to grow in Guyana. This growth shows the importance of this market. Unfortunately, there was a delay caused by weather followed by weight restrictions which led to a stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We are pleased to offer customers traveling to and from Georgetown with additional connecting opportunities and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience. Our Customer Relations team is reaching out to affected passengers.”

What do you think? Is the Boeing 737-800 not suitable for this route? Let us know in the comments.