In a previous post back in April 2015, we followed American Airlines’ history as it received FAA approval to operate under one certificate. Saturday made another important milestone as US Airways flew its last flight under that banner. The merged airline will serve passengers as American Airlines starting October 18, 2015. In a continuation of the series, we will examine how the combined airline today looks like.
Last Flight on US Airways
The final US Airways flight, Flight 1939 departed Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and made stops in its hubs in Charlotte (CLT) and Phoenix (PHX) before heading to San Francisco and returning to Philadelphia under AA 1939 (Follow the journey US 1939 / AA 1939 Flight).
The flight number is significant as it was the year US Airways was founded by du Pont family brothers Richard C. du Pont, Alexis Felix du Pont, Jr.and CEO Steven Gardner and headquartered initially in Pittsburgh, USA.
As a combined entity, American Airlines will be the world’s biggest airline operating more than 6,700 flights and serving over 530,000 passengers daily. It is the founding member of the oneworld airline alliance back in 1998. The merger was announced in February 2013. The merger was approved by the US Department of Transportation in November of the same year after the airline agreed to divest slots in airports like Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) where it has a significant monopoly.
It operates nine hubs in the US. Six of them are in the 2014 Top 30 Busiest Airport list (refer to our coverage here) including:
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – 5
- Chicago O’hare International Airport (ORD) – 7
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – 9
- JFK International Airport (JFK) -17
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) – 24
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) – 26
- Miami International Airport (MIA) – 29
Out of this list, AA does not operate direct flights to the following cities:
Dubai (DXB), Jakarta (CGK), Istanbul (IST), Guangzhou (CAN), Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Singapore (SIN), and Bangkok (BKK).
CLT along with PHX, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Reagan National Airport (DCA) were inherited from the merger with US Airways. Based on the agreement between AA and the US Department of Justice, these hubs would maintain their status for a minimum of five years before they can be downsized or diverted (refer to press release).
American Airlines operate airport lounges called Admiral Club(R) since 1939. Today, it operates the largest number of clubs around the world in 3 different continents. The Top 5 Admiral Clubs are in the following cities: LAX, JFK, LHR, PHL and ORD. The club in Saõ Paulo is currently being renovated as AA moves its operations to Terminal 3.
For higher yield passengers, American Airlines also operates Flagship Lounge in LAX, JFK, ORD and LHR with a designated space and enhanced amenities. The LHR facilities also has arrivals service for night flights from North America.
|Airbus A319-100||122||3||12||—||—||112||124||93 aircraft inherited from US Airways will receive new interior configurations. Expected to be completed by the end of 2016.|
|Airbus A321-200||149||70||16||—||—||171||187||Replacing 757-200. Largest operator of the A321. 17 aircraft are specifically configured for transcontinental service (102 seats).|
|Airbus A321neo||—||100||Deliveries begin in 2017.|
|Airbus A350-900||—||22||Deliveries begin in 2017.|
|Boeing 737-800||251||55||16||—||48||96||160||Replacing MD-80 fleet.|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||—||100||Deliveries begin in 2020.|
|Boeing 757-200||88||—||14||—||—||176||190||Domestic fleet being retired. Replacement: Airbus A321 and A321neo.
International fleet will be retained and receive new interior configuration, featuring fully lie-flat Business Class seats.
|Boeing 767-300ER||57||—||—||30||—||195||225||25 aircraft will receive new interior configuration by 2015 with Main Cabin Extra and new staggered, fully lie-flat Business Class seats. The rest of the 767 fleet will be retired without modifications, with 9 exiting service at the end of 2015.|
|Boeing 777-200ER||47||—||16||37||—||194||247||All aircraft will receive new interior configuration with Main Cabin Extra and new Business Class in a herringbone layout, featuring fully lie-flat seats.|
|Boeing 777-300ER||17||3||8||52||30||220||310||First US operator of the 777-300ER|
|Boeing 787-8||2||19||—||28||48||150||226||First delivery occurred on January 23, 2015. Entering service on May 07, 2015.|
|Boeing 787-9||—||21||Deliveries begin in 2016|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82/83||128||—||16||—||—||124||140||Currently includes 65 MD-82s and 64 MD-83s.
96 will be in the fleet at end of 2015, with full retirement by January 2019.
Replacement: Boeing 737-800, 737 MAX 8, and Airbus 321neo.
All existing aircrafts with the US Airways livery will be painted over before the end of 2016.
With the merger, American Airlines now operates a mix of Airbus, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircrafts. It is under going a US$2 Billion+ capital improvement program entitled “Going For Great” (refer to press release) that will enhance planes with new cabins, refurbish existing/opening new clubs and upgrade meal service.
In a next post, we will look into the strengths and weaknesses of the combined airline. Specifically, how will the airline manage:
- Domestic rivals Delta Air Lines (DL) and United Airlines (UA)
- Low cost competition from JetBlue (B6), Southwest Airlines (WN) and Virgin America (VX)
- Middle east carriers – Emirates (EK) and Etihad Airways (EY)
- New international low cost flights from Europe to North America