FORT WORTH- American Airlines (AA) is set to expand its premium international offerings with new flights, starting in 2025 and extending into 2026.
This expansion will coincide with the delivery of new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which were originally ordered in 2018 but have faced delays.
American Airlines New Flights
According to the Senior Vice President of Network Planning, these new aircraft will significantly impact the airline’s strategy:
- They will feature more business-class seats, making them suitable for premium markets.
- The increased number of business seats will result in fewer total seats, reducing the aircraft’s weight and allowing for extended flying range.
- The addition of these incremental widebody aircraft will enable the airline to introduce services to more destinations.
In earlier discussions within the airline, there had been hints of potential service to Singapore.
Furthermore, aviation experts have speculated that American Airlines might launch services to Hong Kong and Singapore in the coming years as they integrate the new Boeing 787-9 aircraft into their fleet, flags ViewfromtheWing.
Flights to Hong Kong
American Airlines had to make strategic changes to its international service routes, especially to Hong Kong, due to the impact of the pandemic:
- Service to Hong Kong was initially suspended at the outset of the pandemic. Subsequently, American Airlines decided to discontinue the Los Angeles – Hong Kong route permanently and eventually withdrew altogether from the Hong Kong market, including ending the Dallas – Hong Kong route.
- American Airlines initially launched its Hong Kong service from Dallas, which proved to be successful, with strong bookings, including first-class seats. However, the Dallas service required overnight layovers in Hong Kong, making it an inefficient use of aircraft.
- American Airlines introduced a Los Angeles – Hong Kong flight to optimize operations. This allowed for better aircraft utilization by shuttling planes between Dallas and Los Angeles, maximizing flight hours.
- Unfortunately, the Los Angeles – Hong Kong route did not perform well. It departed during nighttime, making it suitable for connecting flights beyond Hong Kong in the morning. However, it frequently experienced delays and yielded lower revenue. Still, it remained popular among elite travelers seeking upgrades.
- American Airlines made strategic decisions to reduce international service from its Los Angeles hub, focusing mainly on routes to joint venture partner hubs, including Japan Airlines (Tokyo), British Airways (London), and Qantas (Sydney). They believed Asian markets were oversaturated, with competitors willing to operate at a loss and offering superior products.
- Cathay Pacific, an American Airlines partner, is the only carrier operating the Los Angeles – Hong Kong route. However, due to the absence of an Open Skies agreement between the U.S. and Hong Kong, American cannot form a joint venture with Cathay Pacific. This limits American’s ability to leverage passenger connections onto its flights.
- Corporate contracts for Asia travel have been limited, and American Airlines’ focus on securing corporate deals has decreased. Business travel to Hong Kong has not fully rebounded, with the city’s relative decline as an Asian business destination and a shift towards the Greater Bay Area in mainland China.
- Cathay Pacific has also not resumed Seattle – Hong Kong flights. American has discussed building Seattle as an Asia gateway in collaboration with Alaska Airlines but has not implemented this strategy. Moreover, they have reduced service on the Seattle – London route.
Flights to Singapore
The decline of Hong Kong’s aviation industry has led to certain advantages for Singapore. However, the Los Angeles – Singapore route is already served by Singapore Airlines, with daily flights and an additional three times weekly service.
Singapore Airlines (SQ) also offers a three-times-weekly flight between Seattle and Singapore.
American Airlines has previously pointed to competition from Asian carriers as a determining factor in their decision to avoid certain routes. To successfully operate a Los Angeles – Singapore route, American would need to replace Singapore Airlines as Alaska Airlines’ partner because they rely on Alaska’s domestic connecting traffic to sustain the service.
American Airlines has typically been cautious about entering the ultra-long-haul service market. Previous experiences with routes like Hong Kong, especially from Los Angeles, were not profitable, even when partner airlines offered connections beyond the final destination.
In the case of Singapore, American lacks a partner to provide such connections, making it primarily a standalone destination.
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