American Airlines adds 3 new leisure-focused routes in latest route-map adjustment

Jan 12, 2021

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With business travel all but nonexistent, it’s no surprise airlines are shifting focus to new, leisure-oriented markets.

The latest route-map shuffle comes from American Airlines.

Over the weekend, Fort Worth-based American added three new routes, two serving Florida and another South Carolina, as confirmed by Cirium schedules and the carrier.

American is connecting Philadelphia (PHL) with two Florida destinations — Panama City (ECP) and Destin-Fort Walton Beach — starting May 8 with once-weekly Saturday service. Both routes are scheduled to end on Sept. 4, but of course, plans could change if they prove to be successful.

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American Eagle operator PSA Airlines will fly both of the new routes using a 65-seater CRJ-700.

The third new route is from Boston (BOS) to Hilton Head, South Carolina (HHH). Republic Airways will operate the once-weekly service on Saturdays from April 10 through May 29 with a 76-seater Embraer 175. Hilton Head is known for its beaches, golf courses, nature trails and more, making for a popular socially distant escape.

Though many airports have seen significant declines in traffic, Panama City is one of the few that have grown despite the pandemic. The airport will see 20% more flights and 11% more available seats in the first quarter of 2021 compared to two years prior, according to Cirium schedules.

Adding “sun-and-fun” destinations, including places like Panama City, has become an industry-wide pandemic-era strategy.

Recently, ‘Big 3’ competitor United Airlines unveiled multiple new Florida flights.

This week, the Chicago-based carrier confirmed that it’s adding two new routes to the Sunshine State, one from Washington/Dulles (IAD) to Panama City (ECP) and another from Houston (IAH) to Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ).

These join two other new United routes to Florida — Washington/Dulles (IAD) to Pensacola (PNS) and Houston (IAH) to Key West (EYW) — which were added to the schedule in recent weeks.

Other carriers: United Airlines adds 17 routes to Florida, bypassing hubs in pandemic route-map shakeup

New York-based JetBlue recently unveiled plans to start flying four new routes to American’s mega-hub in Miami, as well as new Boston (BOS) and New York-JFK to Key West (EYW) flights. Though American is cozying up with JetBlue in a new Northeast-focused alliance, the heat is clearly on down south.

Altogether, American’s moves are aimed at capturing traffic on routes where people are currently flying. Nevertheless, mid-pandemic passenger numbers and flight counts are still down significantly compared to the historic highs of 2019.

Cirium schedules show that American plans to fly 35% fewer flights in the first quarter of 2021 compared to two years prior. In February alone, the carrier is scheduled to operate 73% fewer flights than in February 2019.

Now, all eyes turn to the company’s fourth-quarter earnings, which should be announced in the coming weeks.

Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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