U.S. airlines shifting focus from Asia to Europe?
While the Asian aviation traffic is booming, it seems that a few United States legacy carriers are shifting their attention from the emerging market to an old one: Europe. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) are both planning additional routes towards Europe for the summer of 2019. Meanwhile, American also plans to suspend some of its Asian routes, while Hawaiian Airlines is cancelling its only destination in China.
Europe, a stable seasonal market
Delta Air Lines and American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) are both increasing frequency and adding more flights to Europe in summer 2019. Delta, which operates flights between the U.S. and mainland Europe in conjunction with joint venture partners Air France, KLM and Alitalia, is set to launch its first nonstop flight from Tampa Bay (United States) to Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Starting on May 23, it is Delta’s 11th Amsterdam route from the U.S.
The carrier is also expanding its hub-to-hub flying by increasing frequency of flights between
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle (France). Starting June 16, 2019, the route is going to be operated daily. From New York-JFK the airline is launching a second daily nonstop flight to Paris and Tel Aviv, Israel. For Paris, the additional flight brings flight frequency to a total of seven per day.
Meanwhile, American will add three new destinations from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), as the carrier sees an “increased interest to these markets from the U.S.,” according to Vasu Raja, Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning.
The new destinations are to Tegel Airport (TXL) in Berlin (Germany), Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) in Italy and Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) in Croatia. These seasonal flights will be operated on Boeing 767 aircraft.
In the summer of 2018, American has already launched seasonal service from PHL to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) in Hungary and Vaclav Havel Airport Prague (PRG) in the Czech Republic, as well as from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), United States to Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) in Italy and from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), United States to Keflavik International Airport (KEF) in Iceland, all of which are planned for summer 2019 as well.
With joint business partners British Airways and Finnair, American is also planning to offer service to London Heathrow (LHR), United Kingdom and Helsinki Airport (HEL), Finland. As the company points out, “with the addition of American’s PHX–LHR service, American and British Airways together will operate more than 70 flights per day to London from North America”.
Fuel cost, low demand: reduced operations in Asia
While actively adding new flights to Europe, the U.S. carriers are removing routes in Asia. For instance, starting October 2018 American is ditching a nonstop Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) – Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), China service. The airline admits that the route is unprofitable and “simply not sustainable in this high fuel cost environment”, but seeks a dormancy waiver from the Department of Transportation to permit a return to the market once conditions improve. The last westbound flight is planned on October 26, 2018 and the last eastbound flight - on October 27, 2018.
American will also reduce frequency of its Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) – Narita International Airport (NRT), Japan, service from December 18, 2018. The route should be partly compensated with the help of Japan airlines (JAL), which is planning to increase its service on the route during the peak season (between June and August).
Hawaiian Airlines announced on August 21, 2018, its decision to suspend its thrice-weekly nonstop service between Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) upon the completion of the National Day Golden Week holiday in October 2018. The airline, which started the service in April 2014, will re-deploy its 278-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft elsewhere.
“These decisions are never easy and this one is especially difficult because we believe in China’s future as a robust market for the Hawaiian (HA) vacation experience and we will continue to market one-stop options to Honolulu from cities throughout China on our airline partners,’’ said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian’s (HA) president and CEO.
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