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American delays new Flagship Business Suites as it shuffles wide-body flights

Apr 27 2024


American Airlines’ newest onboard innovations won’t be flying as soon as flyers might’ve expected.

It’s all part of major changes that the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier is making to its wide-body network, reducing service on 12 routes due to delivery delays from Boeing. The news was first communicated to flight attendants in an internal memo obtained by TPG and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

Perhaps even bigger news is that as part of this network update, American is delaying the introduction of its new Flagship Business Suites and premium economy products that were supposed to debut on a special new “787-9P” Dreamliner configuration.

AMERICAN AIRLINES

Originally, the plan was to introduce these new seats, which were first unveiled in 2022, on the airline’s new longest route from Dallas-Fort Worth to Brisbane, Australia. This 8,303-mile route was announced in February and was supposed to be operated by a new 787-9P.

However, because of ongoing delivery delays, American will instead operate this flight using an existing Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that features 30 of the airline’s existing reverse-herringbone business-class pods, as well 21 premium economy recliners, 36 extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra seats and 198 standard economy seats. Aside from the equipment change, this daily seasonal flight will launch as planned Oct. 26.

American doesn’t have an updated timeline for when it will introduce its new onboard products. Originally, the plan was to inaugurate these seats on board the 787-9P and simultaneously retrofit the existing Boeing 777-300ERs with the new products. (As part of the retrofit process, American is retiring Flagship First and replacing it with a new four-seat business-class-plus Flagship Suite Preferred section.)

AMERICAN AIRLINES

Because of the delivery delays, it’s possible that the first 777 retrofit might be completed before the first new Dreamliner is inaugurated. American declined to share an updated rollout timeline with TPG, but we’ll be sure to follow up with details as they become available.

As for the routes that American is shuffling, the changes are pretty extensive, covering service to Europe, South America and even Hawaii.

AMERICAN AIRLINES

You’ll find all the details in the table below, but it’s worth noting that American’s Dallas-Fort Worth-to-Kona route won’t (re)launch as planned. It was last operated in 2021, and American was originally supposed to fly it again starting in October.

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Other big changes include reducing late summer service from New York to Rome to just one daily flight and ending a few other seasonal summer routes before they were originally supposed to wrap up.

In the winter season, American will increase service on four routes as it scales up pilot training and accelerates its retrofit schedule.

“As a result of ongoing Boeing 787 delivery delays, American is adjusting service on certain routes in the second half of 2024 and first quarter of 2025. We’re making these adjustments now to ensure we’re able to re-accommodate customers on affected flights. We’ll be proactively reaching out to impacted customers to offer alternate travel arrangements. We remain committed to our customers and team members and mitigating the impact of these delays while continuing to offer a comprehensive global network,” American shared in a statement about the news.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Even though the carrier is making some big tweaks, American will continue to offer service on 55 long-haul international routes this winter, and it’s not pulling out of any destinations as part of this adjustment.

While the airline is adjusting its schedule due to delivery delays, the carrier reaffirmed that it expects to grow full-year capacity by single digits in line with its recently issued guidance.

“While Boeing delivery delays have impacted mainline capacity production, they have been largely offset by improvement in our regional aircraft utilization. Aircraft delivery delays are impacting the entire industry, but they are not having the same impact on American as other carriers since we are not as dependent on new aircraft deliveries as most of our peers,” chief financial officer Devon May said on the airline’s first-quarter earnings call.

American plans to increase regional flying across the Sunbelt and in its Chicago hub.

The airline will file all these changes over the weekend, and they will be visible to customers by Sunday, April 28.

American’s wide-body reductions

Route Impact
New York to Rome Reduce from two to one daily flight effective Aug. 5
New York to Athens, Greece Early seasonal suspension effective Sept. 3
Philadelphia to Venice, Italy Early seasonal suspension effective Oct. 5
Chicago to Paris Suspend service starting Sept. 3; service will resume in summer 2025
New York to Barcelona Suspend service starting Sept. 3; service will resume in summer 2025
New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina Reduce to one daily flight effective Oct. 27
Dallas-Fort Worth to Kona, Hawaii Will not operate this winter
Dallas-Fort Worth to Dublin Will suspend effective Oct. 26; service will resume in summer 2025
Dallas-Fort Worth to Rome Will suspend effective Oct. 26; service will resume in summer 2025
Miami to Montevideo, Uruguay Delay seasonal resumption to Nov. 18
Miami to Rio de Janeiro Reduce to 10 weekly flights for winter season (except Dec. 16, 2024, to Jan. 6, 2025)
Phoenix to Honolulu Service will no longer operate on Boeing 787 equipment this winter (except Nov. 16 to Dec. 2)

American’s wide-body increases

Route Impact
Philadelphia to Barcelona Will operate daily in January 2025
Miami to Montevideo Will operate daily from Dec. 16, 2024, to Feb. 9, 2025
New York to Rio de Janeiro Will operate daily from Oct. 27, 2024, to March 29, 2025
Miami to Sao Paulo Will operate three times per day from Oct. 27, 2024, to March 29, 2025

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