American adds 3 new routes in leisure-focused expansion from Austin and Chicago

Jan 23, 2022

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American Airlines is making a play for leisure travelers looking for a warm-weather escape.

The Fort Worth-based carrier unveiled three new routes over the weekend, two of which are from the capital of Texas, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the carrier.

Specifically, the airline will commence once-weekly Saturday service from Austin (AUS) to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ); and Cozumel, Mexico (CZM); beginning on June 11.

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American Eagle regional partner Envoy Air will operate both routes with a 76-seat Embraer 175, outfitted with 12 first-class recliners and 66 coach seats.

Along with the new Austin routes, American will launch once-weekly flights between its Chicago O’Hare (ORD) hub and popular New England summer destination Martha’s Vineyard (MVY) beginning on June 11.

This new seasonal service will run through Sept. 3, though it’s possible that the route gets extended a few weeks depending on booking patterns.

American’s regional affiliate Republic Airline will fly a 76-seat Embraer 175 on the new O’Hare route.

In addition to serving Martha’s Vineyard from Chicago, American is bringing back two other leisure-focused summer flights for the 2022 season, including service to Asheville, North Carolina (AVL); and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (HHH); which will resume on June 9 and June 11, respectively.

The two new Austin routes headline the latest round of growth for American. They represent the 31st and 32nd destinations to be added to the airline’s network from Austin since the beginning of 2021, bringing the total number of cities served to 40.

In fact, it might not be too much longer until Austin officially becomes a focus city for the carrier.

After all, American has made a big play for the Austin market during the pandemic, with two major tranches of network expansions there. It started in March 2021 when the carrier doubled down on the city with 10 new routes.

Sixth Street is a historic street and entertainment district in downtown Austin, Texas (Photo by John Coletti/Getty Images)

Three months later, American followed up with 14 more new routes there, including a mix of domestic and international destinations to cities in Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

Altogether, the carrier has added a mix of both business- and leisure-focused routes in a long-term play for capitalizing on the growth the city has seen from major companies moving (or expanding) there. American wants to position itself as the carrier of choice for locals, regardless of whether you’re traveling for work or for pleasure.

Plus, the carrier even unveiled plans recently to open a brand-new Admirals Club in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

“Austin has long been a connecting market for business travelers [who instead passed through Dallas or Houston]. If we went and started over, you probably would see a big hub in Austin. The city has basically grown under the radar… We are at the front-end of our growth in Austin,” Brian Znotins, American’s vice president of network planning recently told TPG.

In addition to the Austin expansion, American’s new Chicago to Martha’s Vineyard route seems to be a pandemic-era play to capitalize on travelers looking for outdoor-friendly getaways to popular leisure destinations.

In fact, the carrier launched nonstop service to another popular Massachusetts island last summer — Nantucket — which turned out to be a success. (This week, the carrier added a second-weekly seasonal flight between O’Hare and Nantucket.)

“Premium leisure demand continues to show strength and with the success of ORD-Nantucket (ACK) in 2021, we’re expanding our portfolio to the region and offer customers more options,” said American.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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