American Airlines intends to transform Seattle into the gateway for most of its flights to Asia, with the north-west city becoming a secondary international hub alongside Los Angeles and Dallas, according to remarks reportedly made by an AA exec on a recent staff call.
The move is said to reflect increasing competition from Asian carriers at LAX, while also leveraging American's partnership with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, which also joined the Oneworld alliance in March 2021.
While American Airlines will continue flying to Tokyo from LAX, with services to Beijing and Hong Kong from Dallas, Seattle will increasingly see routes into Asia, along with the likes of a direct flight to Bangalore now scheduled to begin on January 4, 2022, followed by Shanghai.
Citing a recording of an American Airlines "employee question and answer session" last week, US blog View from the Wing describes remarks by Brian Znotins, American's Vice President of Network Planning, that Seattle will become the carrier's "more predominant Asian gateway."
"LA has been a challenge to us to Asia for a number of years," Znotins reportedly explained.
"We have faced profitability hurdles because every Asian carrier feels like they need to serve LA so even though we were serving Hong Kong and Beijing and Shanghai prior to the pandemic."
"They all underperformed for us because every other Asian carrier served those routes as well (and) there was far too much capacity in the LA market."
Too much competition from Asian carriers
Znotins explained that one way American Airlines generates profits and differentiates itself is "through different schedules, being the only non-stop or one of a few non-stops, but in this case we were one of dozens of non-stops" offered by Asian carriers.
"And so for us what we've decided is to scale back LA widebody flying. Shanghai moves to Seattle… Beijing will focus more on Dallas. Hong Kong will focus more on Dallas as well. But then the Sydneys and the Heathrows will remain at LA because those markets aren't the Asian markets that are over-served."
Znotins said that while LAX would continue to see flights to Tokyo, Sydney and London, along with domestic transcontinental services and "a number of small [regional jet] routes out of LA to support the hub because LA as a domestic hub does very well for us, as an Asian hub it did not do very well for us."
"Going forward... we'll focus with our partner in Seattle on Alaska adding long haul routes like Bangalore and Shanghai out of Seattle once the Chinese bilateral opens up... and that will be our more predominant Asian gateway going forward instead of LA."
Executive Traveller has approached American Airlines for comment.