Skip to content

American Airlines cuts 27 routes, slashes New York network

Nov. 14, 2021
7 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

New York is the big loser in American Airlines' latest network adjustment.

The Fort Worth-based carrier filed 27 route cuts over the weekend, 18 of which touch either New York's JFK or LaGuardia airports.

The nine remaining cuts include a big reduction in Canada service, along with some tweaks to the airline's regional network from Boston, Charlotte, Chicago and Philadelphia. The adjustments were first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed to TPG by an American Airlines spokesperson.

You'll find the full list of route cuts at the bottom of the story, but we'll dive into some of the highlights below.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

New York loses 18 routes

Despite American's promise to grow in New York thanks to the tie-up with JetBlue, the airline is walking away from some of its expansion in this week's massive schedule update.

Five routes from New York-JFK are getting axed — two to Canada, two to Costa Rica and one to Texas — along with 13 domestic flights from LaGuardia. This includes the long-standing shuttle service between LaGuardia and Boston, as well as from LGA to Philadelphia.

Many of the other LaGuardia cuts are to leisure-focused destinations, including Orlando, Nantucket and Myrtle Beach.

Ever since American and JetBlue partnered up in July 2020, the two carriers have touted growth in the Northeast as one of the biggest benefits of the alliance. The carriers have added multiple tranches of new destinations and additional flights from New York and Boston.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice filed a suit against the alliance, alleging that it enables anti-competitive coordination between the two carriers. Among the many counterarguments that American and JetBlue have touted, one of the most salient is that the alliance is key to becoming a formidable competitor against the two largest incumbents in the region, Delta and United.

American's New York route cuts (Map courtesy of Cirium)

While the partnership has delivered on growth in the region, including multiple new American long-haul routes from New York to places like Athens, New Delhi and Tel Aviv, the latest route cuts seemingly show that American and JetBlue might've been biting off more than they could chew. (Interestingly, the airline is also downgrading its daily JFK-Santiago, Chile, flight from daily to 3x weekly.)

Longtime aviation observers might remember that in the years leading up to the pandemic and the launch of the Northeast Alliance, American consolidated much of its New York-JFK presence to key business routes.

Well, despite the sheer number of cuts, the two carriers aren't throwing in the towel on the alliance or its growth in the region.

JetBlue is already operating (or planning to fly) 10 of the 18 routes that American is cutting, according to Cirium schedules. That leaves just eight cities losing New York service entirely from either American or JetBlue, including cities like Traverse City, Michigan, and Pensacola, Florida — two destinations that fared particularly well during the pandemic from leisure travelers.

Now that the pandemic is subsiding, it's possible that the carriers have determined that demand is going to shift away from these places. In fact, this week, American boosted frequencies from LaGuardia to both Cleveland (CLE) and St. Louis (STL) — in a move that perhaps signals that they're expecting domestic business travel to pick up in the coming months.

Either way, one of the big outstanding questions is what will American do with the slots that it'll no longer need for these 18 routes. Operations at both JFK and LaGuardia are slot restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration, meaning that airlines must obtain slots — defined as the permission to take off and land at a certain time — to fly to these capacity-constrained airports.

Whether American adds new routes from New York, or gives JetBlue access to its slots, will be interesting to follow in the coming weeks.

American exits Ottawa, tweaks Canada

Of American's 27 route cuts, five of them include service to Canada. The headline is that American is completely pulling out of Ottawa.

The airline will end its twice-daily service there from Philadelphia effective April 5, 2022, closing up its outstation there and ceding traffic to its competitors. In a statement confirming the move, the carrier shared that:

American has proudly served Canada for more than 80 years. As a result of record low demand during the pandemic, we suspended our operations in Ottawa (YOW) in June 2020. As the demand for this market has not returned, we have made the difficult decision to indefinitely suspend our operation at YOW.

Interestingly, Delta also "indefinitely suspended" service to Ottawa at the outset of the pandemic, too. United Airlines is the only major U.S. carrier serving the city, with flights to Washington Dulles (IAD), as well as soon-to-resume service to Chicago (ORD).

Elsewhere in Canada, American Airlines will no longer serve Montreal and Toronto from New York-JFK, as well as Calgary and Vancouver from Phoenix.

Regional service gets cut, too

Many of the remaining route cuts include regional service across American's domestic network.

American will end another one of its Northeast corridor routes, from Philadelphia to Baltimore, along with service from Charlotte to Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, and Toledo, Ohio. The airline will also stop flying between Chicago and Charlottesville, Virginia, and between Philadelphia and Charleston, West Virginia.

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Though American didn't offer any reasoning for these cuts, it's presumably due to poor economics. Throughout the pandemic, we've seen airlines drastically reduce service on regional routes without enough demand to warrant jet service.

In fact, over the past two weeks, United Airlines has unveiled plans to exit 11 small U.S. cities due to low demand.

Unlike United, American will continue to serve the cities getting cut from other hubs across its network.

Full list of American's 27 route cuts

OriginDestinationEffective Date
Boston (BOS)Raleigh-Durham (RDU)Jan. 4, 2022
Charlotte (CLT)Champaign/Urbana, Illinois (CMI)April 5, 2022
CLTToledo, Ohio (TOL)April 5, 2022
New York-JFKLiberia, Costa Rica (LIR)April 5, 2022
JFKSan Antonio (SAT)Jan. 4, 2022
JFKSan Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)April 5, 2022
JFKMontreal (YUL)Jan. 4, 2022
JFKToronto (YYZ)Jan. 4, 2022
New York/LaGuardia (LGA)Nantucket, Massachusetts (ACK)June 17, 2022
LGAAsheville, North Carolina (AVL)March 27, 2022
LGABangor, Maine (BGR)Jan. 4, 2022
LGABoston (BOS)Jan. 4, 2022
LGACharleston, South Carolina (CHS)Jan. 4, 2022
LGAOrlando (MCO)Jan. 4, 2022
LGAMartha's Vineyard, Massachusetts (MVY)June 17, 2022
LGAMyrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR)June 2, 2022
LGAPhiladelphia (PHL)Jan. 4, 2022
LGAPensacola (PNS)May 5, 2022
LGAPortland, Maine (PWM)Jan. 4, 2022
LGASavannah, Georgia (SAV)June 3, 2022
LGATraverse City, Michigan (TVC)June 2, 2022
Chicago (ORD)Charlottesville, Virginia (CHO)April 5, 2022
Philadelphia (PHL)Baltimore (BWI)April 5, 2022
PHLCharleston, West Virginia (CRW)April 5, 2022
PHLOttawa (YOW)April 5, 2022
Phoenix (PHX)Vancouver (YVR)April 5, 2022
PHXCalgary (YYC)April 5, 2022
Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees