American Airlines extends China, Hong Kong suspensions to April

Feb 11, 2020

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American Airlines will not resume flights to Beijing, Hong Kong or Shanghai until late April as it continues to see weak demand for flights to the region amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Oneworld alliance carrier now plans to resume flights between its Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) base and Hong Kong (HKG) on April 23, and on its remaining flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles (LAX) and Beijing Capital (PEK), Hong Kong and Shanghai Pudong (PVG) the next day, American said Tuesday. The airline offers a single daily flight on each route with a combination of Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft.

American suspended flights to Beijing and Shanghai on Jan. 31, and to Hong Kong on Feb. 4. It had planned to resume the Beijing, Shanghai and Los Angeles-Hong Kong routes on March 27, and the Dallas-Hong Kong route on Feb. 20.

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All three major U.S. carriers have suspended service to Hong Kong and China. United Airlines has suspended Hong Kong service through Feb. 20 and mainland China flights through March 28, and Delta Air Lines all service through April 30.

The suspensions are adding up. All airlines combined have cancelled 3,434 flights between China and the U.S. through March 31 — not including American’s latest extension — according to Cirium schedule data.

The moves have prompted questions over what airlines will do with their idled planes. American, Delta and United have all told analysts that they plan some limited swapping where wide-bodies that would have flown to China will take over select flights from smaller jets. Minor maintenance works and using the planes as spares to the support other flights are also options.=

Related: American Airlines could drop ambition of Los Angeles gateway to Asia

American may take things a step further and suspend flights between Los Angeles and China for the foreseeable future if demand fails to recover, airline executives told Evercore analysts on Feb. 6. Such a move would see the airline essentially forgo — at least for now — its dream of building a gateway to Asia at LAX.

American is the smallest U.S. carrier to mainland China with only four daily flights. Flights to the country represented just 1.8% of its system capacity in 2019, compared to 2.7% at Delta and 4.1% at United, Cirium schedules show.

Featured image by studioEAST/Getty Images.

More: The 10 longest (and 10 shortest) American Airlines flights

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