American Airlines delays its 2 new flagship long-haul routes

Sep 12, 2021

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The pandemic continues to stymie American Airlines’ long-haul expansion.

Over the weekend, the Fort Worth-based carrier postponed two of its newest and highest-profile routes: Seattle (SEA) to Bangalore (BLR) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Tel Aviv (TLV). Both flights are now slated to commence on Jan. 4, 2022, and Jan. 6, 2022, respectively, according to Cirium schedules and confirmed by the airline.

In a statement shared with TPG, an American Airlines spokesperson wrote:

This weekend we pushed back the launch of our Dallas-Fort Worth-Tel Aviv (DFW-TLV) and Seattle-Bengaluru, India (SEA-BLR), routes until January 4. These delays are due to continued entry restrictions into Israel and the slower-than-expected return of international business travel. American is fully-committed to Israel and India – we currently serve TLV from our Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK) hubs, and we’ll begin service from JFK to New Delhi (DEL) on Oct. 31.

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American’s Seattle to Bangalore route

First announced in February 2020, American unveiled this 8,078-mile route that would return the carrier to India for the first time since 2012. It was originally going to take off in October 2020, but the pandemic delayed it by a year. The Bangalore flight will be operated daily by a 285-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Though Seattle isn’t an AA hub, it is for one of AA’s domestic partners, Alaska Airlines. As part of a new West Coast International Alliance between the two carriers, Seattle would become an “international gateway” with Alaska feeding connecting passengers to American’s new long-haul flights from SEA.

While that partnership has since commenced (and Alaska joined the Oneworld airline alliance), the flagship Bangalore route, which will heavily rely on business travelers, isn’t ready to take off. (AA announced a second new long-haul route from Seattle, to London/Heathrow (LHR), at the same time as the BLR route. LHR flights launched as planned on March 30.)

Interestingly, earlier this year AA unveiled a second new India flight, from New York-JFK to New Delhi (DEL). This one was announced in conjunction with the airline’s Northeast Alliance with JetBlue Airways and is still on track to commence on Oct. 31, 2021. In fact, it was recently upgauged to AA’s flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft that features both a first- and business-class cabin.

If everything goes according to plan, New Delhi will now represent AA’s first foray in India in nearly a decade.

American’s Dallas/Fort Worth to Tel Aviv route

Before the pandemic, American hadn’t flown to Tel Aviv since January 2016. Now, it serves Israel from two hubs — daily service from New York-JFK and three-times-weekly service Miami (MIA) launched on May 6, 2021, and June 4, 2021, respectively.

AA had plans to launch a third Tel Aviv route, three times weekly from its Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) mega-hub on Nov. 1 that’ll now take off on Jan. 6, 2022. In fact, of the three Israel routes, DFW was announced first, and it’ll be the last to launch.

For those who might be concerned about whether DFW flights will actually launch, Brian Znotins, AA’s vice president of network planning, told TPG in February that American was committed to following through on all three routes.

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… jump[s] 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.”

And regarding Miami, “it really is an opportunistic move for us right now,” said Znotins. There’s limited competition and “demand for flights to Tel Aviv has shrunk less than other leisure destinations in Europe.”

Featured photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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