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Compared to its legacy rivals, like Delta and United, American Airlines has been bullish on rebuilding its route network, flying around 55% of its seat capacity compared to a year ago, and placing a renewed focus on its hubs. One of those hubs, Miami International Airport, will be getting the lion’s share of attention in the months to come as the carrier has just unveiled a slate of new routes from the airport. The announcement makes sense on a number of levels. Miami is an ideal positioning city to funnel traffic from the southern and western U.S. both across the Atlantic and to the Caribbean and South America. As a terminus itself, the Miami area (and indeed, the rest of Florida) have benefited from the traveling public’s interest in sunny destinations with outdoor activities that don’t require a passport – not to mention onerous and constantly changing travel requirements – to reach.
Among the most fascinating routes American Airlines revealed in its latest announcement is a new service from Miami to Tel Aviv, which will launch three times weekly beginning June 4. This follows similar news from the carrier about novel services from two of its other hubs, Dallas-Ft. Worth, which will begin in October, and New York J.F.K. to Tel Aviv, which will start flying this summer. Tel Aviv has been of increasing interest to airlines given Israel’s relative success at Covid-19 vaccine rollouts of late, signaling that the country might be a premier vacation destination for folks looking for a virus respite. At New York J.F.K., in particular, American’s new partnership with JetBlue will facilitate connections to the rest of the U.S.
In July, American Airlines will become the first and only U.S. airline to fly non-stop to Paramaribo in Surinam. The service will operate five times weekly aboard a single-aisle Airbus A319. If that raises some eyebrows, it’s likely an extension of American carriers’ interest in new so-called “diaspora travel” that hopes to capitalize on U.S. citizens and residents returning to their countries of origin to visit family and friends after the extended lockdowns and restrictions of the pandemic.
Among the shorter international routes passengers should see more traffic on out of Miami are those to Santiago and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, which will be upped to four and seven daily flights, respectively, and frequency to Port-au-Prince in Haiti, which will increase to five times daily beginning in April.
A dozen destinations in Latin America will also get frequency boosts this summer compared even to pre-pandemic levels from 2019. Expect more options to Bogota, Cali, and Medellin in Colombia; Guayaquil and Quito in Ecuador; Lima, Peru; and Santiago in Chile. American will bring some of its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner widebodies to Miami in order to implement these services. Colombia and Peru, in particular, will receive double their current capacity, and Ecuador will see a 50% jump.
Discussing the proposed additions, American Airlines’ vice president of operations for Miami, the Caribbean and Latin America, Juan Carlos Liscano, declared, “Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to strengthen our capacity in Miami to match demand in Latin America and the Caribbean. With new international destinations launching this year, Tel Aviv and Suriname…and additional flights to key destinations in the Caribbean, we look forward to further deepening our ties to Miami.” All told, the airline will have around 16% more capacity to the entire region from Miami by this summer compared to 2019.
American Airlines’ growth isn’t limited to its international network, though. For the first time, the airline will operate weekly flights (on Saturdays) during the summer from Miami to both Little Rock, Arkansas, and Portland, Maine, from June 5 through August 16.
Vacationers can look out for new seasonal flights from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Merida in Mexico, and both St. Maarten and St. Lucia in the Caribbean, while Charlotte will see the addition of Samana in the Dominican Republic, plus a non-stop from Los Angeles to Cancun, all beginning in early June.
Overall, these moves are ambitious and aggressive. “American has always been the biggest and best in Miami with more flights to more places than any other carrier,” said Brian Znotins, American’s vice president of network planning. “As demand recovers, we’ll be even bigger and better than ever before.”
Sensing an opportunity to reassert its dominance out of Miami and shift its operations to both sun-filled leisure spots as well as farther-flung diaspora destinations, American Airlines is betting on these network enhancements to position it for a post-pandemic comeback. Time will tell if that bet pays off.