American Reduces International Network, Citing 787 Delivery Delays

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American Airlines will drop three international destinations to which it had planned to resume flying in its 2022 summer schedule, citing delayed deliveries of as many as 13 Boeing 787s, while launching one new international route during next year’s summer season: New York Kennedy (JFK)-Doha (DOH).

The cities to be dropped include Edinburgh (EDI), Scotland; Shannon (SNN), Ireland; and Hong Kong (HKG). Both EDI and SNN were to be served from Philadelphia (PHL) while HKG was to be served from Los Angeles (LAX).

The Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) -based carrier also has decided that Dubrovnik (DBV), Croatia and Prague (PRG), both of which were part of its network in the 2019 summer, will not be added back to its network.

The launch of American’s long-planned Seattle (SEA)-Bangalore (BLR) route will be delayed indefinitely.

The adjustments to American’s international network were revealed in a Dec. 9 memo to employees by Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja. The memo was included in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“Boeing continues to be unable to deliver the 787s we have on order, including as many as 13 aircraft that were slated to be in our fleet by this winter,” Raja said in the memo. “Without these widebodies, we simply won’t be able to fly as much internationally as we had planned next summer or as we did in summer 2019. . . . Due to the lack of widebody aircraft, we must make several changes to the schedule, including eliminating or delaying several routes for summer 2022.”

In addition to the cities dropped, American in 2022 will temporarily, “but significantly,” reduce frequencies “throughout our system” on transpacific routes, including to Shanghai (PVG), Beijing (PEK) and Sydney (SYD), according to Raja.

He noted that all widebody aircraft in American’s fleet will used on long-haul routes exclusively in its 2022 summer schedule; the carrier has been using widebody aircraft on some domestic or short-haul international routes.

“We are orienting our long-haul flying to preserve scale in our strongest markets,” Raja wrote, adding: “We expect to fly a full schedule to London Heathrow [(LHR)], Dublin [(DUB)] and Madrid [(MAD)] as soon as we are able.”

The network cuts overshadowed the news that American will launch a JFK-DOH route on June 4, 2022. DOH is the home hub of American's oneworld partner Qatar Airways.

“With the launch of American’s new service to Doha, the airline will deepen its relationship with Qatar Airways,” American said in a statement. “[American passengers] have already benefited from the expansive codeshare between the two airlines as it has allowed [passengers] to access new destinations in the Middle East, East Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia that American does not currently serve.”

Raja emphasized that the 787 remains “an important part of our fleet,” adding: “Despite this delay [in deliveries], we still have great confidence in the [787] and continue to work with Boeing on when these planes can be ultimately delivered to us. In addition, Boeing has advised us that they will compensate American for their inability to deliver the aircraft.”

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.