By Connor Sadler
American Airlines Is Using More Widebodies On Domestic Flights than International Routes
Covid-19 travel restrictions remain in place across many parts of the world. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that American Airlines is still using more widebody aircraft on domestic services than international flights, according to data seen by AirlineGeeks.
With many countries remaining closed to American tourists, more are choosing to vacation domestically. Popular destinations the airline is allocating widebodies to include Orlando, Honolulu, Kahului, Kona, Phoenix and Miami.
In addition, while the travel ban remains in place for European tourists, there is less need for transatlantic capacity. In 2019, the U.K. alone accounted for 4.7 million arrivals to the U.S., according to Statista. The same source suggested that, in 2020, that number fell by over 84% to 730,000.
With travel restricted between most of the two continents for around 15 months now, the U.S. Travel Association says travel exports have fallen by $150 billion. The lack of customers has meant carriers could free up aircraft capacity elsewhere. As such, airlines have used their larger, long-haul aircraft on more domestic services.
American Airlines Cargo reports that, in July, it will operate 6,001 passenger services with widebody aircraft. Of all of July’s widebody services per week, 48% will be domestic services, totaling 742 flights. Over a quarter — 408 — will be to Europe, 304 will be to Latin America and the remaining 90 to Asia.
Some of the domestic widebody services American is adding in July include seven weekly Chicago and Miami to Las Vegas flights and seven weekly Philadelphia to Orlando flights.
The airline will also operate 175 cargo-only flights in July. Destinations include Seoul, Shanghai, Frankfurt and Beijing.
The airline’s widebody fleet has already been trimmed back because of the pandemic. While its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners has been increasing despite long-haul air travel almost halting, American brought forward the retirement of its Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s into 2020.
With both the A330 and 767 no longer operating for the airline, American’s widebody fleet only consists of Boeing 777s and Dreamliners.
As of writing, the airline has 113 of the above widebody aircraft with 43 more 787s on order. However, despite four new 787s joining the fleet since March 2020, according to Airfleets.net, this means the airline is still down 36 widebodies.
A source familiar with the situation suspects that American is using widebodies per pilot contracts, not solely as a result of capacity needs. American has to let the pilots fly the planes on which they are trained, and with more widebody pilots than narrow, the widebodies need to be used to fulfill their contracts.
Since a number of American’s long-haul routes are not operating at the moment, those services with more demand are operated by widebodies to keep pilots current. This is done instead of flying more planes to make up for demand on busier routes. It is also to remove the need to keep up high frequencies on quieter services.
With travel restrictions remaining firmly in place as anticipated, American has introduced 90 new and seasonal domestic routes.
These include expanded operations from Austin and Tampa and new services to Eureka, Calif.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Idaho Falls, Idaho and Columbus, Ga.
More seasonal services from Orlando have begun, too. American has launched services to Birmingham, Ala.; Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Ind.; Louisville, Ken.; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh, Penn. and Raleigh, N.C.
The airline is also promoting services to America’s National Parks for those wishing to reconnect with the outdoors. American is the only airline partner of the National Parks Foundation.
The Northeast Alliance, forged by American and JetBlue, is another way American is increasing its domestic schedule this summer. The new partnership is allowing extra capacity and services across the two airlines’ route networks.