American Airlines Holds Out On Adding Iceland And Croatia Flights

American Airlines spent 2019 and the early part of 2020 expecting to fly a robust international schedule. It has not shied away from taking on the competition. However, as some of its competitors announce new flights to Croatia and Iceland, American has not. However, this does not mean that American will not add service to either country this summer, but it has yet to see the case to announce it now.

American Boeing 787
American Airlines has thus far refrained from adding flights to Iceland and Croatia. Photo: American Airlines

Competitors have added new flights to Europe

Of carriers based in the US, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have announced nonstop flights from the US to Croatia. United will fly to Dubrovnik (DBV) from its hub at Newark (EWR), while Delta will serve DBV from its hub at New York (JFK). Both airlines will utilize Boeing 767-300ERs on the route.

Meanwhile, this summer, there will be a new entrant in the US to Croatia market. PRAGUSA.ONE is planning nonstop flights between DBV and EWR. The airline plans to fly an Airbus A330 on the route.

United Boeing 767
United is using the Boeing 767 to fly to Croatia. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Meanwhile, Iceland is also seeing a growth in services from US airlines. Delta Air Lines has already resumed flights to Reykjavik (KEF) from JFK, with plans to resume Minneapolis (MSP) to KEF flying later this month. A new route for Delta, Boston (BOS) to KEF will start on May 20th. Delta will use Boeing 757s on all three. JFK to KEF will get an upgauge to a Boeing 767 from July.

United Airlines will resume flights to KEF from EWR on June 3rd. The airline will also be flying a new route from Chicago (ORD) to KEF from July 1st. Both routes will run with a Boeing 757-200.

Delta Boeing 757
The B757 will serve two of Delta’s Iceland routes this July. Photo: Getty Images

American used to fly to both Croatia and Iceland

American Airlines actually beat out United and Delta. The carrier served DBV from hits hub in Philadelphia (PHL) in 2019, though it cut the route in 2020 due to the crisis. When American served the route, it used a Boeing 767-300ER.

Iceland also formerly was on the airline’s route network. American used to fly from both Dallas (DFW) and PHL to KEF. The airline previously used a Boeing 757 to service both routes. Again, due to the crisis, American scratched its plans to fly from Philadelphia to Iceland.

American Boeing 757
American Airlines used to fly to Iceland using a Boeing 757. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Why has American held out on adding flights now?

With Croatia and Iceland as some of the only European countries open for Americans, it may seem strange that American has avoided adding new nonstop service. This is especially true given that the airline has a history of operating to both countries, while Croatia is a brand new country for both United and Delta.

Simple Flying reached out to American Airlines to ask why the airline had shied away from adding flights. A spokesperson for the airline informed that the airline is evaluating its route network, though international demand has been slower to return.

American Airlines
American has grown its widebody domestic and Latin American schedules. Unless it cuts down on some flying there, it is not likely to have the spare jets to serve either Croatia or Iceland. Photo: Getty Images

However, the airline also stated that much of its recent focus has been on increasing service to Latin America and the Caribbean. According to the carrier, this is one of the few geographies that is seeing significant levels of demand.

Smaller widebody aircraft appear to be the right aircraft to service Croatia, and the Boeing 757 is the most popular jet to fly to Iceland. For Iceland, American could service KEF using an Airbus A321neo or a Boeing 737 MAX. Meanwhile, the best option for Croatia would likely be the Boeing 787-8. American has already retired all of its Boeing 767-300ERs and Boeing 757 aircraft.

American Boeing 767
American has retired the aircraft it used to fly to Croatia. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

As American awaits more Boeing 787-8s, 737 MAX, and A321neo aircraft, it could be possible that American decides to add some flights to these destinations in the latter part of the summer. For now, however, those aircraft are pointed across the United States and south of the border. Many short- and medium-haul routes in the US are receiving capacity increases thanks to the airline’s choice to use widebodies on those routes.

Unless demand shakes up and American no longer believes pointing more of its widebodies to Latin America is a viable strategy, it appears both Croatia and Iceland may remain off the route network this summer. For American to benefit from bookings this summer, it would need to announce those flights soon and put them on sale.

LAX Delta Air Lines and American Airlines
Summer is fast approaching, and American appears content with its current route network, which can change quickly, if necessary. Photo: Getty Images

Despite not offering its own nonstop flights, the airline still sells itineraries to both Iceland and Croatia. Passengers will be able to connect in Europe with the airline’s partners in British Airways or Iberia. For now, that strategy seems like the current best option for the carrier.

Do you think American Airlines should add flights to Croatia and Iceland? Let us know in the comments!