Turning Seattle into an international gateway hub seems to have been a failed experiment for American Airlines.
The carrier filed plans over the weekend to cut its final international route from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by an airline spokesperson.
Originally, American had planned to resume daily service from Seattle to London for the upcoming summer season, but that plan has now been scrapped. (American last operated service on this 4,801-mile route this summer.)
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Instead, American will cede all Seattle-to-London flying to its Oneworld joint venture partner, British Airways, which offers up to two daily nonstops in the market.
American explained the cut with the following statement:
As part of a continuous evaluation of our network, American Airlines has made the difficult decision to discontinue service between Seattle (SEA) and London (LHR). We plan to operate 25 daily flights to LHR next summer from 10 destinations across the U.S. Our partner, British Airways, continues to operate service between SEA and LHR. We’re proactively reaching out to impacted to customers to offer alternate travel arrangements.
Service to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) is slot-controlled, which means that airlines need “slots” for each arrival and departure. Slots at Heathrow are notoriously expensive and difficult to acquire, so American will add a second daily flight between Miami and London to use this slot from the abandoned Seattle route.
This second-daily flight from Miami will begin on April 1, 2024, and operate with the following schedule onboard a 273-seat Boeing 777-200ER.
- American Flight 56 from Miami to London — 9:55 p.m. to 10:50 a.m. (next day)
- American Flight 57 from London to Miami — 2:10 p.m. to 6:35 p.m.
Scrapping all international service from Seattle is a big blow to the carrier’s strategy in the Pacific Northwest and the local Seattle market.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, American announced plans to shift some of its international focus from its hub in the incredibly competitive Los Angeles market to Seattle, where it hoped to establish a strategic presence in partnership with Alaska Airlines to boost international connectivity.
Alaska planned to provide domestic feed to fill American’s new Seattle flights, which included routes to London, Shanghai and Bangalore, India.
Of course, the pandemic hit just weeks later, indefinitely suspending American’s plans to launch service from Seattle to China and India.
The airline eventually inaugurated the London flight in March 2021, and it was flown pretty consistently through October 2023.
That said, the flight seemingly didn’t perform as American had hoped.
That’s likely due, in part, to macroeconomic challenges in the Seattle business market — buoyed by tech companies such as Amazon and Microsoft; it has faced challenging economic conditions, leading to tightened budgets, especially for travel.
Without international flights, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to American’s domestic connectivity in Seattle. Right now, the carrier offers service from there to Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and Phoenix, Cirium schedules show.
Though Seattle may have been a flop, American continues to expand in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), where it operates its largest hub.
This week, the airline filed plans to commence a new summer seasonal service to Redmond, Oregon, beginning on May 6, 2024.
American will operate the route through Oct. 6, 2024, using a 150-seat Airbus A320.
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