American Airlines has permanently reduced its flight frequencies between Chicago and Asia, from 21 weekly flights down to just 3.
At the same time, American is expanding its routes in Latin America and the Caribbean.
American flights affected
In December of 2018, American canceled the Chicago to Beijing and Shanghai routes.
In December 2018 American dug deeper into its cuts by reducing their daily Chicago to Tokyo (Narita) flight frequency down to three times a week.
The company positioned the latest move as a route suspension and not a cancelation, claiming they had lost money. Since the route pairs are slot restricted, The DOT awards the pairs to airlines in which they believe it would be doing the most good to consumers.
Let’s be honest as much as I love airlines and such, business-wise they are bratty kids wanting things that they might not use or need. Yet they want them anyway to keep competition at bay.
American Airlines called their cuts a “suspension”. They asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to give them a dormancy waiver as “conditions” were temporary. American would remedy the situation by resuming the flights. The DOT concurred with American and granted a dormancy waiver until June 28, 2019.
The day after the dormancy waiver expired American Airlines wrote a letter to the DOT. They notified the DOT hat the company was returning their 14 weekly slots between Chicago and China.
In the letter American explained it this way:
“Despite American’s efforts, American is unable to resume its two services in the near future. American is, therefore, returning its frequencies so that they are available for use by other carriers.”
Who would be interested in American’s flight frequency slots to Asia?
Well, the remaining suspects United and delta would have a strong motive. United has a vested interest out of O’Hare, in particular.
Archenemies United and Delta would compete for Asia from either neighboring Minneapolis-St. Paul or Seattle-Tacoma in Washington State.
United Airlines would seem the front runner for Asia flight frequencies with the Star Alliance footprint of Air China and Shenzhen Airlines. United can further connect passengers beyond Beijing, and Shanghai which has been a problem for American Airlines and the Oneworld Alliance.
Oneworld has been making inroads in China particularly. Apart from Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and the investment of $200 million by American Airlines on China Southern have made a difference.
Officially, China Southern is not part of the OneWord alliance. However, they do participate in the earnings and the redeeming of miles.
Delta can further its footprint with China Eastern in its SkyTeam Alliance as China Eastern has hubs at both Shanghai airports. The Shanghai airports include Pudong (used for international flights) and Hongqiao (used for domestic or regional flights).
Until American Airlines brings China Southern to Oneworld Alliance, the alliance and American Airlines are in a black hole. Until China signs an Open Skies Agreement the Oneworld Alliance is in deep trouble in Asia because Asia is located beyond Japan.
Featured image credit: American Airlines