American Airlines pressed the pause button on launching new long-haul international routes in 2020, but the airline is planning for a better 2021 with new routes connecting new destinations. Here are the top five new routes the airline currently plans to launch this year.
6. Seattle to London-Heathrow
American Airlines will be flying a Boeing 777-200ER from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to London-Heathrow (LHR). Currently expected to start from late-March, the airline will be augmenting the oneworld schedule between the two cities, as British Airways operates up to two daily flights between Seattle and London.
The route is expected to do well, given American’s partner, Alaska Airlines, has a massive hub out of Seattle for connections. And British Airways has another large hub at Heathrow. This will give the airline a decent shot at filling its plane.
What makes this route more interesting is that it will be a very competitive one. With American and British Airways staking out one end, partners Delta and Virgin Atlantic compete on the other end. Delta and Virgin will be flying up to two daily nonstop flights on the route. Delta has a hub in Seattle, and Virgin Atlantic has one in Heathrow.
Both partnerships could prove to be victorious on this route. However, that does not necessarily mean that both airlines “win”. If, because of the competition, both partnerships are selling seats below-cost and either racking up losses or else turning a marginal profit, then it is a lose-lose situation– even if the planes are going out full.
5. Dallas to Tel Aviv
American Airlines is coming to Israel. As the only one of the big three major US airlines to not fly to Israel, the carrier is betting on the strength of its Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) hub to launch flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV).
Starting from late-October, the airline will be using a Boeing 787-9 to operate the long-haul flights. This route will explore whether there is enough room for all three US airlines to fly to Israel, especially given how El Al appears to be coming back. United Airlines has recently expanded into Israel.
4. Dallas to Auckland
If there is one thing to know about American Airlines, it is important to know that the airline’s largest and most successful hubs is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). With a massive connecting hub, nearly any of American’s routes out of the airport are expected to do relatively well.
To test this theory, American is adding Boeing 787-9 flights to Auckland Airport (AKL) from November. This daily seasonal service will test a few different things. First, it will show how successful American’s mid-continent hub can be. The airline has previously used Los Angeles as the departure point for its flights to Australia and New Zealand. Second, it would also show the extent to which American’s partnership with Qantas can go.
If American can sustain more of its own flights between the US and Australia or New Zealand, along with Qantas’ long-haul operations out of Australia to points across the United States, then the two airlines are really in good shape heading forward, since it would show strength for nonstop travel to New Zealand, and turn more of Qantas and American flights to and from Australia to be more about connections, and getting more people to secondary destinations in Australia.
3. Seattle to Shanghai
This route from SEA to Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) will be one to watch. American is planning to launch this flight from March 27th using a Boeing 777-200ER, the same type of plane flying to London.
China has always been a difficult market for American Airlines. Before, it did not have a mainland Chinese partner, so connections were not possible for the airline. Now, while it does have China Southern, this partnership is not perfect. China Southern’s strength is out of Guangzhou, where American does not fly. It has a sizable but ultimately limited presence out of Shanghai, compared to the much larger China Eastern.
American is moving its West Coast Shanghai service to Seattle from Los Angeles. The airline cannot operate both services, as there are restrictions on the number of air services between the two countries.
This new service’s strength will be a true testament to the strength of the American Airlines and Alaska Airlines partnership. If the flight from Seattle to Shanghai works, then it shows that American Airlines can really call Seattle a “hub”. If it does not work, then it represents the continued struggle for US airlines to fly to China without a strong partnership.
2. Los Angeles to Christchurch
Starting this November, American Airlines will fly a Boeing 787-8 thrice a week between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Christchurch Airport (CHC). This route is going to be one to watch.
American Airlines has never really known what to do with Los Angeles. A short hop away is its hub in Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), where the carrier has a sizable presence of operations. LAX is rife with competition, and while it does have a decent number of connections, the airport is far from the size of the airline’s hubs of Charlotte or Chicago or Miami.
LAX has always been a big transpacific hub for American Airlines. But, AA has also tried plenty of other routes out of the airport. American has ended its service from LAX to Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and Beijing.
This, essentially, leaves American’s long-haul operations out of Los Angeles focused on operations to its partner hubs from the city. This includes flights to London-Heathrow, Sydney, and Tokyo-Haneda.
This Christchurch service will be one to watch and, like the DFW-AKL service, indicate how strong American Airlines is in Australia and New Zealand.
1. Seattle to Bangalore
Taking the cake as one of the most awaited routes for 2021 from a US carrier, this will be American’s riskiest new route.
When the carrier announced the flights, it would have a monopoly on nonstop routes between the US and the growing tech hub in India. Now, American will have to contend with United’s nonstop operations from San Francisco to Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport, which means American has to rely more on nonstop origin and destination traffic out of Seattle and Alaska’s hub to fill up its plane.
American previously did not have a lot of success flying to India for multiple reasons. Now that it has a more efficient aircraft operating the route, the airline has a little more room to make this route work, but it will still be a risky endeavor.
Which of these six routes are you most waiting for from American Airlines? Let us know in the comments!