Cuts to American Airlines’ seasonal transatlantic service announced

Daily seasonal service from Charlotte to four new European destinations was supposed to help boost traffic across the pond for American Airlines (still US Airways when the routes were announced) this summer. Instead the service is being trimmed before it even starts, reportedly due to weak bookings. And so, instead of daily service throughout the summer season two of the four destinations – Brussels & Lisbon – will only be served 4x weekly. The other two cities – Barcelona and Manchester – will keep daily service but the flights will end a month earlier than previously planned.

These are the routes affected by the cuts.
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

These cuts come on the heels of the previously announced plans to drop Rio de Janeiro service from Charlotte in 2015.

Yes, there are still a few long-haul flights from the hub (Dublin, London, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome & Madrid) but not a ton. And with the US Airways half of the airline now participating in the transatlantic joint venture with American, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair it seems likely that there will be more “rationalization” of routes in the future. The joint ventures do great things for the airlines, so long as everyone participating plays with the same intentions, and capacity discipline is a major part of that these days.

That’s not to say we should be closing the book on Charlotte as a hub quite yet. There’s still some strong value in serving connections within the region for the near future. But for long-haul operations there is a lot of potential to bypass connections there via Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City or even Miami.

Things could get interesting in a hurry down in North Carolina.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. @ABC – Supposedly RDU is a subsidized route, so the game may be a little different there.

  2. DL has 3 european hubs (JFK + ATL + DTW) in eastern time and zero in central time, so total 3.

    UA has 2 (EWR + IAD) in eastern and 2 in central (ORD + IAH), total 4.

    AA ? 4 in eastern ( JFK PHL CLT MIA) … plus another 2 in Central time (ORD + DFW), total SIX !! That doesn’t lead to dominance, but rather, it leads to cannibalization.

  3. I suspect CLT will become something similar to what MSP is for DL. Continue its strong domestic east coast operations with handful of year round TATL flights to key hubs and European Centers like LHR, MAD, FRA, etc.

    MIA and PHL can’t fill CLT’s void for the area. It won’t make sense having to fly ILM/SAV-PHL/MIA-SAN and vice versa. You could close CLT and nearly double traffic via DFW, but I think that would be catastrophic from an infrastructure standpoint.

    I think they will “fine-tune” CLT to take over some of the east coast and high volume Caribbean traffic ops away from PHL and refocus PHL to act more like what EWR is for UA [primarily O/D and TATL connections]. So, there will be some balancing between PHL and CLT and not so much of cutting one or the other hub.

    JFK – High Yielding O/D flights
    CLT- East Coast hub and high volume Caribbean/Mexico destinations like SJU/STT/MBJ/CUN
    PHL- O/D traffic and TATL connections along with JFK. Many forget PHL has big MSA so there is plenty of O/D traffic
    MIA- South o’ Border hub, focuses on smaller Caribbean markets and Latin America
    DFW- Primary Central connecting hub for USA and Mexico/Central America
    ORD- O/D traffic and Midwest hub and secondary TATL hub
    LAX- O/D traffic and TPAC hub

    The one I’d be most concerned about is PHX, however, AA has this challenge with LAX not being able to realistically replace PHX due to infrastructure limitations. Maybe the other hubs will take on more flights and PHX will become a big focus city with 150-200 daily departures and act as a west coast supporting hub.

    The glaring hole in US and AA’s network has always been the PNW/Montana/Idaho/Alaska/British Columbia/Alberta area. Seems like that will continue to be an issue for the new AA.

    Time will tell.

    1. “The glaring hole in US and AA’s network has always been the PNW/Montana/Idaho/Alaska/British Columbia/Alberta area. Seems like that will continue to be an issue for the new AA.”

      This is where Alaska Airlines comes in.

      1. Yes, but not quite right now. US Airways has not been added to the partnership yet, but I am sure it will. IMO, this should be very high on the priority list, the sooner they integrate and enhance the partnership through expanded benefits and code sharing the better it is for everyone involved.

        Since AS and AA both use the same system (SABRE) it should be a lot easier to implement things than it was with Delta.

        This will also render PHX a little more “pointless” and maybe AS will re-consider expanding at LAX again if AA is going to grow more there.

  4. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that LH MUC-CLT flight might not be around a whole lot longer….

  5. Maybe I’m wrong but this seems silly. I know it may not be related to revenue but I was trying really hard to book a couple award seats on just about any of these routes over the Summer and there wasn’t much availability. I know it’s fairly close in but if there was that much capacity or unused seats on these routes you’d think there would be some open award seats but it was slim picken’s.

    1. Clearly AA/US had higher expectations for what would sell. It didn’t happen so the flights are being cut rather than just unloaded into award inventory.

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