American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) will adjust its long-haul international schedule for winter 2020 through summer 2021. In an effort to match low demand resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the airline will realign its network with the goal of improving long-term profitability. American expects:
- Summer 2021 long-haul international capacity to be down 25% compared to 2019.
- To focus on markets that create unique connectivity for customers.
- To leverage partnerships as the foundation of future international growth.
“COVID-19 has forced us to reevaluate our network,” said American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja. “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.”
International demand remains low
In response to the prolonged downturn in international travel, American expects summer 2021 long-haul international capacity to be down 25% versus 2019. As the airline begins planning for next summer, American will also discontinue several routes that were once popular leisure destinations but are expected to exhibit decreased demand.
“American has spent the past few years right-sizing its international network, discontinuing underperforming routes while adding leisure destinations like Dubrovnik and Prague,” said Brian Znotins, American’s Vice President of Network Planning. “Now, as demand has significantly diminished due to COVID-19, we have to be nimble, creating the network that our customers desire.”
American will exit several routes, including three trans-Atlantic routes from both Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). The company will also exit five underperforming routes from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to destinations in Asia and South America, concentrating on the hub’s domestic strength.
As American resets its international network for future growth, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) will be the airline’s major trans-Pacific hub while Miami International Airport (MIA) will continue to be the preeminent hub for flights to the Caribbean and Latin America. Once government restrictions on trans-Atlantic flying subside, PHL will continue to be American’s primary hub for service to Europe.
Strategic focus on partner hubs in Seattle and London for future growth
Earlier this year, American launched its West Coast International Alliance with Alaska Airlines, an innovative partnership to expand its international reach and connectivity for customers. The airline will plan future growth with the strength of this relationship, which includes a large presence and a strong feed in Seattle. As previously announced, American will launch service from Seattle (SEA) to Bangalore and London (LHR) next year, and Alaska also intends to join the oneworld® alliance in 2021. The airline will also seek government approval to move its LAX service to Shanghai to operate out of SEA, which will offer more customers direct access to Asia, utilizing the strength of Alaska’s local presence in the Pacific Northwest.
American will also continue to fly to joint business partners’ hubs. And while some international markets will not return, American anticipates a full schedule to LHR by 2021. The airline will continue to work closely with British Airways to provide an extensive network that allows customers to reach key destinations when they are ready.
“For American, every new partnership means future growth opportunities for our airline. We’re going to rely on our hubs’ greatest strengths with our existing international network, and further integrate into our partners’ hubs to provide connectivity that’s been untapped in the past,” Raja said. “American will be well poised to emerge from this crisis with a stronger network that provides improved connectivity for our customers.”
A full list of changes can be found below. International schedule updates will be reflected on aa.com Sunday, July 5.
No change fees for flights booked by July 31
American Airlines is providing customers additional flexibility by expanding waived change fees for customers booking tickets for any new travel purchased by July 31, 2020. Any first, business, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin tickets purchased on or before July 31, 2020, for future travel will not incur change fees prior to travel. Customers are allowed to change their origin and destination cities as part of this offer. Offer excludes Basic Economy and AAdvantage® award tickets. Customers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, and fare rules may apply depending on the ticket.
Customers have flexibility for AAdvantage® award tickets as changes made 60 days or more before travel have no reinstatement fee. More information on changing award tickets can be found at aa.com.
American currently has a change fee waiver in place for all tickets, including Basic Economy and AAdvantage® award tickets, for travel through Sept. 30, 2020. Additional updates on existing travel alerts can be found on aa.com/travelalerts.