American Airlines takes a jab at Delta in latest 5-route adjustment

May 25, 2021

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American Airlines is putting up a fight against Delta.

AA filed five notable schedule updates this past weekend that each touch a Delta hub. Specifically, the Fort Worth-based carrier will add an additional daily frequency on four routes, and will upgauge a fifth, per Cirium timetables.

From November 2021 through March 2022, American will operate two daily frequencies between Phoenix (PHX) and both Atlanta (ATL) and Detroit (DTW), up from the previously scheduled one daily flight in each market.

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The carrier also is beefing up service between Charlotte (CLT) and both Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and Salt Lake City (SLC). The former will see four daily flights from November 2021 through March 2022, up from the previously scheduled three daily services. The latter will be operated twice daily from October 2021 through the end of the schedule in May 2022, doubling the previous schedule in the market.

Finally, American will upgauge the Phoenix (PHX) to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) route between November 2021 and March 2022 from a 128-seat Airbus A319 to a 187-seat Airbus A321, representing a nearly 50% increase in capacity.

American Airlines jets in Phoenix (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While all five routes touch an AA hub — namely Charlotte and Phoenix — each also serve one of Delta’s: Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Salt Lake City.

Turns out, the timing of this schedule update isn’t necessarily a coincidence; it comes just over a week after Delta announced its own expansion in Boston and New York.

On May 14, Delta unveiled a significant investment in the Boston market, with three daily flights to Charlotte (CLT) and twice-daily flights to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) — two massive American Airlines hubs. Delta also detailed plans to launch service to Toronto (YYZ) from both Boston (BOS) and New York LaGuardia (LGA). Finally, the carrier is planning to hire more than 200 employees in the Boston area through the rest of 2021.

Delta’s investment in Boston and New York will pit the carrier against two of its rivals, American and JetBlue, who together fly or have announced plans to serve every single new Delta market as part of their new Northeast Alliance.

Additionally, the move to boost these routes now, roughly five months before the fall season, might also be intentional. Delta’s new Boston routes don’t commence until October 2021 — exactly when American’s latest route-map adjustments begin as well.

This isn’t the first time that American has used its route network to seemingly respond to its competitors.

Earlier this year, the airline added two daily frequencies between Miami (MIA) and Hartford (BDL) just weeks after JetBlue announced its own Miami expansion, which included a new Hartford route.

American is also adding daily summer seasonal flights between Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Vail/Eagle (EGE) from June 3 to Aug. 16, marking the first time the carrier will fly the route in the summer in at least 18 years, per Cirium schedules.

The carrier is filling a void left by United. In March, the Chicago-based carrier dropped two Vail routes from its summer timetable, including flights from — you guessed it — Chicago O’Hare.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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