AA's Ending Its Intra-Bolivian Flights After 26 Years
Did you know that American Airlines operates flights within Bolivia? It seems very few people — even inside AA — know about the airline's fascinating route between La Paz, Bolivia (LPB) and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (VVI).
Since December 3, 1991, the daily-operating flight #922 has operated a loop from Miami (MIA) to La Paz to Santa Cruz de la Sierra back to Miami. Since American Airlines doesn't have so-called "eight freedom" rights, passengers can't board in La Paz only for Santa Cruz. Instead passengers boarding in La Paz must be continuing to Miami and passengers deplaning in Santa Cruz must have flown in from Miami.
Although AA has some interesting routes, as far as we can tell, this is the only scheduled American Airlines flight that doesn't takeoff or land in the United States.
But sadly, in July, the carrier will be ending its service to La Paz — which it launched on July 23, 1990 — while retaining its service to Santa Cruz. While the changes haven't been loaded into the airline's schedule, the final operations of the current iteration of the flights are scheduled to be:
- July 3, 2018: Miami (MIA) 10:35pm departure ⇒ La Paz, Bolivia (LPB) 5:03am arrival
- July 4, 2018: La Paz, Bolivia (LPB) 6:13am departure ⇒ Santa Cruz (VVI) 7:33am arrival
- July 4, 2018: Santa Cruz (VVI) 9:12am departure ⇒ Miami (MIA) 4:11pm arrival
If you're interested in flying this route before it terminates, there's quite a bit of award availability at just 17,500 AAdvantage miles each way in economy, while there's spotty business-class award availability at 30,000 miles each way. Both of those are just 5,000 miles more than you'd pay for a domestic US award flight.
So, why is AA ending the route? According to an American Airlines spokesperson:
American has proudly served Bolivia for almost 28 years. As part of the constant evaluation of our network, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our service to La Paz (LPB) effective July 4. We will continue to operate daily service between Miami and Santa Cruz, Bolivia (VVI) effective July 5.
What the carrier isn't saying is that the current flight is probably a major pain to operate. With cabotage restrictions, the airlines likely faces significant operational pains any time there's a delay or maintenance issue. It's much cleaner operationally for the airline to just fly an out-and-back flight from the US to one Bolivian destination, and it seems that Santa Cruz is a more lucrative destination for the airline than La Paz.