American Airlines unveils major Miami expansion, another new route to Tel Aviv

Feb 8, 2021

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American Airlines is doubling down on Miami with its latest pandemic-era network adjustment.

The Fort Worth-based carrier will launch a brand-new long-haul flight, add two pins to its route map and increase capacity across Latin American and the Caribbean.

“This move reinforces how much American Airlines is identified by Miami. It is one of the core elements of our airline. We are committed to Miami and this capacity increase really reflects that,” said Brian Znotins, American’s vice president of network planning in an interview with TPG.

As such, let’s take a look at American’s sweeping Miami-focused expansion.

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American adds Miami to Tel Aviv

American hasn’t flown to Tel Aviv since January 2016, and now it has plans to serve Israel from three hubs.

On Monday, the airline announced a brand-new thrice-weekly Miami (MIA) to Tel Aviv (TLV) flight, operated on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the eastbound direction by a 273-seat Boeing 777-200.

Flights take off on June 4 and will be available to book starting on Feb. 15, with the full schedule below.

American’s 777-200 sports 37 lie-flat business-class pods, 24 premium economy recliners, 66 extra-legroom economy seats and 146 standard coach seats. The carrier will offer Kosher meals for pre-order as well as Kosher wine on board.

The Miami to Tel Aviv route will start roughly one month after American begins serving Israel from New York-JFK. As part of the carrier’s new Northeast-focused alliance with JetBlue, American is launching two long-haul routes from JFK, to Athens and Tel Aviv.

AA will then follow up with a third new TLV service come October 31, when it finally launches flights from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), a route that was originally delayed last year due to the pandemic.

Asked about why American is starting so many flights to Israel during a pandemic, Znotins explained the rationale behind each route.

The feasibility of the JFK-TLV flights is boosted by “the new JetBlue partnership. In the case of Tel Aviv, once we build in the presence and connectivity of JetBlue in the New York area, we recalibrate our list of forecasts for every possible long-haul route and all of a sudden Tel Aviv and Athens jump to first on that list.”

As for flights from DFW, “while Tel Aviv from JFK is our best opportunity, we still want to fly from DFW later this year.”

So, why also add Miami?

“It really is an opportunistic move for us right now. First, the demand for flights to Tel Aviv has shrunk less than other leisure destinations in Europe. Second, Israel is way ahead of the curve when it comes to vaccinations. In terms of markets that could open up to less restricted travel, they will be one of the first to do that when they’re ready for it,” Znotins explained to TPG.

While the Miami to Tel Aviv market might appear to be a short-term play, Znotins told us that “we’re going to stick with the route for as long as it works. Miami to Tel Aviv may not have been on the radar last year, but because the world is different now, we’re going to give it a go.”

American will have limited competition from El Al on its new Miami route (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

American will face limited competition on its Miami to Tel Aviv route. El Al re-entered the market in November 2017 following a nine-year hiatus. In June 2021, the Israeli flag carrier plans 22 flights for the month, per Cirium schedules.

Related: The tiny country with a rapidly growing airline route map

Two new Caribbean and South American destinations

American’s also adding two new pins to its route map.

The carrier will start flying to Paramaribo, Suriname (PBM) from Miami on July 1. Flights will operate five times weekly aboard the 128-seat Airbus A319. Suriname will be the ninth South American country served by American, further solidifying the carrier’s stronghold in the region.

The only other airline flying from the U.S. to Suriname is Surinam Airways with roughly once-weekly flights from Miami, according to Cirium timetables.

American will also start flying to Samana, Dominican Republic (AZS) on June 5 with seasonal twice-weekly service from Charlotte (CLT). AA last flew to AZS in 2008 from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Network-wide domestic boosts

In recent weeks, most major U.S. carriers, including American Airlines, have been tweaking their route maps to boost service to leisure-oriented destinations like Panama City, Florida and Salt Lake City.

This week is no exception.

AA will add once-weekly Saturday service during summer months from Miami to Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT) and Portland, Maine (PWM) beginning on June 5. This move will both help boost connectivity to points in Latin American and the Caribbean, as well as offer travelers more flights to sunny South Florida.

Effective June 3, American is also adding new and expanded service from its Charlotte (CLT) hub, including:

  • Daily summer service to Reno, Nevada (RNO)
  • Expanded summer service to Jackson Hole, Wyoming (JAC) and Traverse City, Michigan (TVC)

More American route news: American Airlines adds 8 new and expanded routes 

Short-haul international growth, too

But wait, there’s more. American is also doubling down on its short-haul international flying from Miami.

Znotins was particularly excited that “capacity between Miami and Colombia will be more than double what it was prior to the pandemic.”

American will upgauge short-haul flying with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

To capitalize on the strong VFR (visiting friends and relatives) traffic to Latin America and the Caribbean, American is adding frequency and upgauging aircraft to many existing destinations, with a plan to offer 16% more capacity to the region from Miami compared to 2019.

Some of the many boosts include:

  • Miami to Port-au-Prince (PAP) will increase to five daily flights beginning in April
  • Miami to Santiago (STI) and Santo Domingo (SDQ) in the Dominican Republic will increase to four and seven daily flights, respectively
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to PAP will get a second daily flight beginning April 2

Interestingly, many of these short-haul flights are aimed at some of the carrier’s low-cost competitors, like Frontier and Spirit. American will also be competing with its new partner in the Northeast, JetBlue, on its expanded FLL-PAP flight, a move that’s similar to the three other new domestic FLL routes American is adding in the coming months.

Other airlines: Delta charges into leisure markets with latest route shakeup 

In addition to much of the Miami-focused expansion, American is adding frequency to the Caribbean and Mexico from other hubs as well, including:

  • Seasonal service from DFW to St. Maarten (SXM) and St. Lucia (UVF)
  • New seasonal route from DFW to Merida, Mexico (MID)
  • New route from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cancun (CUN)

All this international expansion comes as the U.S. recently added a new COVID test requirement for all inbound travelers heading to the country.

“We’re seeing the industry adapt to the testing rules,” said Znotins. Many of the hotels and resorts in the Caribbean and Latin America are offering on-site COVID testing to streamline the new requirements.

Znotins added that “our bookings to some of these places aren’t down nearly as much as we anticipated. Some are even starting to rebound.”

A full list of the new routes is below:

New Destinations

Departure Arrival Operating Days Start Date Departure Time Arrival Time Aircraft
MIA PBM Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri/Sun July 1 5:30 p.m. 11:30 p.m. A319
PBM MIA Mon/Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat July 2 1:45 a.m. 5:05 a.m. A319
CLT AZS* Wed/Sat June 5 9:45 a.m. 1:05 p.m. E175
AZS CLT Wed/Sat June 5 2:00 p.m. 5:30 p.m. E175

*Seasonal from June 5 through Aug. 14. Returning Winter 2021.

New Routes

Departure Arrival Operating Days Start Date Departure Time Arrival Time Aircraft
MIA TLV Wed/Fri/Sun June 4 8 p.m. 3:10 p.m. B777-2
TLV MIA Mon/Thurs/Sat June 5 11:55 p.m. 6:25 a.m. B777-2
DFW SXM* Sat June 5 8:50 a.m. 3:15 p.m. A319
SXM DFW Sat June 5 2:35 p.m. 7:14 p.m A319
DFW UVF** Sat June 5 8:40 a.m. 3:40 p.m. A321
UVF DFW Sat June 5 2:30 p.m. 7:22 p.m. A321
DFW MID* Sat June 5 10:55 a.m. 1:37 p.m. E175
MID DFW Sat June 5 2:17 p.m 4:51 p.m. E175
CUN LAX Sat June 5 4:40 p.m. 7:46 p.m. A321
LAX CUN Sat June 5 8:45 a.m. 3:36 p.m. A321

*Seasonal from June 5 through Aug. 14. Summer service only.
**Seasonal from June 5 through Aug. 14. Returning Winter 2021.

New Domestic Schedules

Departure Arrival Operating Days Start Date Departure Time Arrival Time Aircraft
MIA LIT Sat June 5 7:40 p.m. 9:15 p.m. E175
LIT MIA Sat June 5 6 a.m. 9:45 a.m. E175
MIA PWM Sat June 5 10:25 a.m. 1:45 p.m. E175
PWM MIA Sat June 5 2:30 p.m. 5:59 p.m. E175

Featured photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.

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