American Slashes Los Angeles Service in April; Will It Ever Return?


American loaded its most recent short-term coronavirus-related April schedule cuts over the weekend, and the airline cut deep in some geographies. It promised a 60 to 70 percent domestic cut in April, and while it didn’t get there on a network level (yet), Los Angeles is getting close with more than 50 percent of domestic available seat miles just gone completely. That just happens to be the hub I was most curious about since it seems like it could be at risk in the future.

Overall, American will drop two-thirds of its flights at LAX from April 8 through April 30 (May cuts haven’t loaded yet) with 34 of the 51 existing North American destinations disappearing. That means it’ll be down to a mere 57 flights per day on average. All of these flights will be on mainline aircraft. That’s not much of a surprise since the airline providing the bulk of the American Eagle service at LAX, Compass, is being shut down April 7.

This has to mean that the dreaded Eagle’s Nest remote terminal at LAX will be closed for the forseeable future. In fact, with only 57 flights a day, American should be able to easily keep its entire schedule operating from Terminal 4 with ease. I don’t know for sure if that means it will stop flying from Terminal 5 for now, but it would make a lot of sense.

So what’s left? Well, here it is visually. American already cut its entire long-haul network from LAX in a previous schedule change. That means previous service from LA to London, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Auckland won’t show on this map. But this is what American will operate up through April 7.

LAX April 1 – 7 Routes via Diio by Cirium

And here is the map for April 8 through April 30.

LAX April 8 – 30 Routes via Diio by Cirium

It’s a whole lot more barren these days. In fact, the vast majority of flights go to other American hubs. The only ones that don’t are:

  • 7 weekly flights to Boston
  • 7 weekly flights to Cabo San Lucas
  • 7 weekly flights to Honolulu
  • 13 weekly flights to Las Vegas
  • 6 weekly flights to Mexico City
  • 7 weekly flights to Orlando
  • 15 weekly flights to Seattle
  • 1 weekly flight to St Louis

Some of these are really odd, like the St Louis weekly flight which is westbound on Tuesday and eastbound on Wednesday. There’s also a very strange westbound-only weekly flight from Atlanta which I didn’t even put on this map. I’m assuming this is either to route airplanes for maintenance or crews. After all, a cancellation this close to travel means crew pairings and maintenance schedules are much harder to move. That’s why I assume we’ll see some interesting things whenever the May schedule gets loaded; there is more flexibility then.

Of these remaining routes, all are on narrowbodies except for single daily flights to Chicago and Honolulu which are on 787-8s. This is the only flight remaining in the American network to Hawai’i, so even if people don’t fill the airplane, cargo likely will. And I assume the Chicago flight is simply to route the airplane into the rest of the American network.

Compared to Delta

What’s particularly interesting about this hub is that everyone plays in the sandbox. United has only done some limited cutting for April so far, and that means I can’t compare yet, but it looks like Delta has already done its damage.

While American cut about 100 daily flights over the weekend, slashing destinations from 52 to 16, Delta was busy with its own plan. Delta will cut only a bit over 50 flights a day and it will thin destinations from 47 to 37. American used to have more flights than Delta, but that won’t be the case in April.

Here’s a chart that shows this with a little more detail.

Looking at competitive markets is most interesting. Prior to this weekend’s changes, Delta and American had 33 markets in which they both had nonstop flights. They both pulled out of Columbus, Indianapolis, Raleigh/Durham, and San Diego, but what about the remaining 29?

Delta cut exactly NONE of those markets from its schedule. (Ok, it cut Mexico City while American didn’t, but joint venture partner Aeromexico is still there.) In the meantime, American walked away from an incredible 18.

The differing strategies seem to be clear here. Delta has gone for breadth. It is cutting frequencies in many markets, but it hasn’t cut a lot of cities. Those that it did cut were mostly non-competitive markets like Liberia, Costa Rica as well as the couple long-haul flights that still hadn’t left the schedule. American, however, is hyper-focusing on serving its hubs and important business markets. Breadth is out the door. This is just about operating the most utilitarian schedule that fills the needs of its most important clients.

The Future

This doesn’t necessarily indicate that American is leaving LA behind. It could just be a differing pulldown strategy that will get reversed in the future. But there are some other tea leaves we can read here.

American has never done well in Los Angeles. Then again, nobody has. It’s a tough market with a load of competition and low fares. But American was hell-bent on making LA the airline’s Pacific gateway. And while there likely is a future for the Australia flying thanks to the joint venture with Qantas, there is little else beyond joint venture markets that are worth flying.

When American decided to renew ties with Alaska and start long-haul flights from Seattle just a month ago, this looked like an opportunity to eventually shift away from LA. Sure enough, Seattle is keeping two mainline American flights a day from LA through all this. That may very well be more about Seattle than Los Angeles, which would be quite the shift. Considering how many routes have disappeared in this cut, the retention of Seattle is an outlier.

I was also surprised to see that San Francisco isn’t being served at all. Sure, it was on Eagle before, but that doesn’t mean American couldn’t route mainline to keep a presence there. Apparently it didn’t think that was important enough to bother, even though it’s a key business market that will matter in the long run for an airline trying to serve LA’s needs.

It’s hard to say what American’s long-term intentions are for Los Angeles from this. Maybe the May schedule will tell us more when that comes out, but it seems unlikely to me that we’ll see the operation return the way it has existed until now. This is a market that’s ripe for a change, and the current state of the world could be the push that American needed.

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56 comments on “American Slashes Los Angeles Service in April; Will It Ever Return?

  1. Trying to read the tea leaves right now is like herding cats, an exercise in futility. But it does make for interesting speculation.

  2. My guess is that for AA coming out of this.
    JFK will be down to 50 flights a day. They will be cutting back quite a bit at LGA and not using all their slots. They are going to lose slots in both airports. LAX will be down below 150 flights a day. These were always their lowest performing markets. AA just doesn’t seem to want to be in these ultra competitive markets when the rest of the network is very marginal and they need the money. They are going to focus on DFW/CLT/DCA as they have said before. All the other ones fall somewhere in the middle.

    DL looks intent on chopping down a lot of the focus cities. CVG/RDU is at 25 flights a day for April. Maybe they will be 50 flights a day coming out this or even smaller. It took the chainsaw to Boston for April also (down to a about 40 flights a day). I think that’s going to shrink to under 100 flights a day after this. Both LAX and SEA had cuts, but nothing to the level of BOS.

    Delta is going to have to make decision coming out of this on which of its hubs to shred and which ones to get resources. If AA is cutting down LAX, Delta needs to pour all its resources in there. Looks like it’s not giving up on SEA. BOS/CVG/RDU are done from what I can see.

    1. And where will AA deploy all of the capacity that you are suggesting they will permanently exit? They are grounding 757 and 767s, but that was announced before any network strategy. They can’t put all of those planes in DFW, CLT and DCA. DFW is terminal constrained, and DCA can only grow through gauge. Also, pulling down LGA is a ludicrous proposition. They pulled down JFK because they serve TA via PHL, but unlike JFK, LGA serves the NYC business market, and AA will not back down and hand that to DL.

    2. I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that Delta is giving up on CVG. Sure, frequencies have been slashed, and that’s as it should be during this Covid-19 Crisis. The entire Cincinnati Tri-State metro area is on lockdown, and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has proclaimed unambiguously, in both written & spoken form, “Simply don’t fly.”

      But, once this crisis is over, Delta will get back to business at CVG. Why? Let me count the ways. First, CVG is a base for DL’s cockpit crews, for cabin crews & for maintenance. Second, they have the large maintenance hanger at CVG. Third, Delta is still paying a boatload of money to the Kenton County Airport Board (KCAB) for leases on the terminals. I’m not sure how long that will be in effect, but having those leases ensures that Delta has first choice of gates in Concourse B. Fourth, there are many companies & corporations in the Greater Cincinnati Tri-State that have sales agreements with Delta. Perhaps you’ve heard of Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Fifth Third Bank & GE Aircraft Engines, among others?

      Last, and certainly not least, is SkyMiles. Those of us that fly & live in the Greater Cincinnati Tri-State are addicted to SkyMiles! When Delta & Comair had 400 flights a day through CVG, both carriers made sure that their passengers got SkyMiles for their trips. If they didn’t have a SkyMiles account, one was easy to open & set up. (I did that many times when I was a CSA for Comair back in the late Nineties.)

      The bottom line is that I just can’t see Delta abandoning all of that by cutting CVG down to flights to their other hubs only. CVG will continue to be a focus city for Delta / Delta Connection.

      1. To get my post back on topic, the city that I really feel badly for is Louisville. I remember that American completely pulled out & abandoned SDF back in 1982. Two years later, they returned with much pomp & marketing, acting as though they were inaugurating service to a new city.

        Fast-forward to the recent past. Louisville had longed for a nonstop flight to Los Angeles for years. They finally got one, only to have it served by Mesa, which made a “Mesa mess” out of the schedule with their legendary unreliability. Now, they’re losing the service altogether.

      1. >>>>The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday addressed calls by American Airlines and others for relief of slot-use requirements by temporarily waiving the rule that allows for carriers to lose their slots at congested airports if they don’t use them at least 80 percent of the time. The move follows a pledge a day earlier by the European Commission to put forward “very rapidly” legislation to temporarily suspend its own 80/20 “use-it-or-lose-it” rule at Europe’s airports to address traffic declines caused by the spread of the new coronavirus.<<<<

        Courtesy: Air Transport News-Aviation International

  3. Any chance we might see more combi aircraft used by the major airlines on flights to places like Hawaii, where there will likely always be significant cargo demand?

      1. I think they are the last, although EVA and Alaska also did until quite recently.

        In almost all cases though, it’s simpler to just run dedicated cargo flights (UPS or FedEx) if there is a lot of cargo demand.

    1. Alaska is the only us passenger carrier to still own a (small) fleet of All-Cargo a/c. Last I checked they have 3 737-700F’s

  4. Off-topic, but the daily emails are very informative, and the jokes at the end are perfect for these kinds of times. Thank you.

  5. Many of the cuts for AA at LAX as well as Delta in CVG and RDU are for regional jets, esp. large regional jets. There are scope implications on the number of large regional jets that can be operated based on the number of mainline aircraft that will be operated.

    Delta has the B717 and A220 as small mainline aircraft so it can bridge the gap between the number of large regional aircraft and mainline. Neither AAL or UAL were interested in small mainline aircraft and that could put them both at a significant disadvantage to Delta as networks have to shrink.

    CVG and RDU are still predominantly Delta dominated; they can cut regional jet operations and still dominate the market. Boston is competitive but half of B6′ Boston is operated by E190s – far more expensive to operate on a per seat basis than the E175. The big 3 have been much more aggressive in adjusting their schedules; the low cost carriers will follow eventually. LUV will be at a particular disadvantage operating aircraft with a minimum of 140 seats on flights that will carry far fewer people.

    LAX and NYC were not among the list of AAL’s most profitable hubs for years, in part because of their poor financially performing international flights from those cities. They justified a lot of hubs based on the strategic importance of those cities but cannot sustain those losses any longer.

    And even if American pulls back in LA and on the west coast via a partnership with AS, they will be giving most of the revenue away since US airlines cannot have revenue sharing joint ventures with each other.

    oh, and the AA SEA international gateway will never happen.

    AAL now has to figure out how to shrink its costs down to a size that reflects its position of being a much less international airline.

    1. you have no idea what you are talking about with B6 E90s. They have much lower cost than any legcy RJ. E90 vs E75 same number of pilots, same number of FAs and 24 more seats. Even if the pilots are paid a little more and fuel cost is a little higher, that’s peanuts compared to the 24 additional seats you get.

      Let’s just put it this way. DL normally lose about 15% in RASM on a route when it upgauges from 76 seaters to the smallest mainline B717. Unless 717’s CASM is more than 20% lower than 76 seaters, it would not make any sense to upgauge. Yet, it continuously upgauge to B717 whenever possible. That should tell you how terrible the CASM on these RJs are.

      Put it another way, B6 E90s cost are 20% higher than A320s when adjusted for stage length. Legacy costs adjusted for stage length are anywhere from 18 to 25% higher than B6’s costs. So E90 cost for B6 is about average for legacy aircraft.

      DL has clearly cut BOS/CVG/RDU domestically more than other stations. These will be significantly downsized stations a year from now.

      1. Well at the present time, CASM and RASM are pretty useless measures if the flights will never come close to being full.

      2. @FC,
        you are clearly batting in a league beyond your capabilities.

        Of course RASM would go down if Delta simply replaced a large regional jet with a 717 – but only if they carried the same number of passengers.

        No one said that Delta would directly replace large RJs one for one with 717s or A220s.

        Delta has upgauged large regional jet flights to 717s and A220s because those two types are operated by mainline and because they have more seats which has allowed Delta to grow in markets with an incremental step up in capacity that no other airline has.

        And, your statement that the E190 is lower CASM than the E175 is patently contrary to what operating airlines including B6 have reported to the DOT. Further, the looming elimination of the E190 from US carrier fleets while E170s/175s continue to be added should make it very clear that the two smaller jets are much more efficient. The reason for the E190s high costs are engine maintenance costs; the Ejet family DOES NOT share the same engine and the E190 engine is much more expensive to maintain.

        DL cut BOS, RDU and CVG because those cities used a high proportion of large regional jets; there are limitations on the number of regional jets that can be operated by AA, DL and UA; they had to cut regional jet flights because they are also cutting mainline flights.

        And you might have missed that B6 is cutting its JFK operation by over 100 flights/day to just over 40 flights – about the same size as what DL has left at BOS.

    2. The only reason the E175 is less to coperate than B6s E-190s – The airlines operating E175s are contract carriers meaning they have a fraction of the costs to cover because many of those costs are covered by the mainline carrier. Just a thought!

    3. If as you say, AA will significantly cut back from LAX – it leaves the entire west coast as a big gap in its network. And AS with almost an entirely west coast based network. That will clearly leave AA as the only US3 with an entirely complementary network with a chance of merging with AS. AS will not be able to merge with DL because of huge overlaps at SEA and LAX and not with UA due to huge overlaps at SFO and LAX. A merger that seemed ridiculous a few months ago now seems inevitable. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what AA has in mind!

      1. I would have thought an AA-AS hook up scenario to be crazy three weeks ago, but I think you have a point. If the LAX cuts are truly permanent, then it does put AA in a better position to merge with AS (regulatory-wise). If a merger isn’t in the works, then AA has a huge whole in it’s network that will need filling.

  6. This would be a good opportunity for the full-fare carriers to price their basic economy tickets equal or lower than the ULCC competition and put them out of business.

  7. In regards to SFO. The only reason I can think of flying AA on the LAX-SFO Route would be for an international connection. WN, UA, AS, even DL fly this route hourly

    “I want to fly Eagle on LAX-SFO” said no one ever

    1. To be a leading player in a given market, an airline needs to have business accounts and (very) frequent fliers. Elites and a lot of them. And sometimes those customers may need to fly up to SFO (LAX-SFO is huge). So it’s about serving your most loyal elites and business accounts more than being competitive in the overall marketplace. If I need to get from LAX to SFO, AA is one of the very last airlines I would choose. But if I’m Exec Platinum with AA, that’s who I’d take.

      1. To be a leading player in a given market, an airline needs to have business accounts and (very) frequent fliers. Elites and a lot of them. And sometimes those customers may need to fly up to SFO (LAX-SFO is huge).

        But perhaps with teleconferencing becoming more popular thanks to Covid 19, that may no longer be the case. Only time will tell. If people are apprehensive in riding transit do to the spread of this virus, then they aren’t flying either if they can help it.

        1. While there’s no question that telecommuting will be dominant for the duration of this pandemic, what happens afterward is a big unknown. Perhaps people will take several months to go back to their previous behavior, perhaps they are clamoring to get back out there ASAP, perhaps things will never go back to normal. Impossible to know.

          But, the fact remains that is American wants to be a player at LAX, they have to have business contracts and a bunch of LA area-based elites. And these folks will inevitably need to get up to the Bay Area at some point. AA needs to have service to accommodate these customers, even if they are not competitive on the route for the non-aligned flier. Air travel will return after this thing is over with, at least in some form, and LAX-SFO will always be a popular route overall.

    2. It’s a quick flight, so not much differentiation between carriers. But, as an AA Elite (a lowly Gold) it was a pretty easy route to snag an upgrade on at no cost (given its length). So, it was my preferred carrier – even being SFO based. Also, if a flight at SFO ever went mechanical or oversold, it was easy enough to hop a flight to LAX to reroute and get to where I wanted to go. Can definitely say I did this several times.

  8. One main problem with LAX, is similar to JFK, it’s such a populated area, most of the traffic is local traffic. Airlines don’t like building hubs where there is a lot of local traffic for some reason. That maybe a reason AA may never return to the levels pre-coronavirus. WN, DL, and UA have built up the “satellite” airports around LA (BUR, SNA and LGB) which AA has stayed away from (except SNA) keeping just token service. Will they build up the satellite airports?

  9. JetBlue has always been gate constricted at LAX. At what point can B6 swoop up some more gates at LAX and close the last chapter of “LGB – Focus City”?

    1. Sooner than you think. American will retreat to it’s hubs in Philadelphia & Phoenix if they survive the pandemic. JFK & LAX will be spokes while Delta & JetBlue could pick up slots on the cheep.

    2. Willis – They might very well have that opportunity but it wouldn’t be a good move. There is plenty of competition in these markets, and JetBlue won’t add much value But if they really want it, the opportunity may be there.

  10. With the AS partnership and forthcoming oneworld membership, I wouldn’t be surprised if LAX-SFO is gone for good.

  11. Will American ever return to LAX? Ever? You mean, between now and the heat death of the universe?

    American has built up and torn down its schedule in so many different geographies so many times that I don’t think we can rule it out. Not between now and the heat death of the universe.

  12. What surprises me, and I’ve been saying this long before Coronavirus, is American hasn’t really done well at LAX but it determined to make it the pacific gateway. Meanwhile, here is Phoenix, where it would not have any real international competition, and is already an AA hub. And yet they don’t do much with it. I really think the local population there could support international travel, on a smaller scale yes, but it could potentially be more profitable for American. Especially with the 787. I’m interested to see the strategy when this is over (which is hopefully very soon). Are they going to go back to business as usual in LA or maybe try something different?

    1. LA is poorly located to be an Asian gateway – better located for S. Pacific. But what it does have is a massive local market. Including the Inland Empire, it’s the LA primary statistical area is 19mm people, with a ton of people with family, business, cultural connections. By comparison, the Phoenix primary statistical area is 5mm, without anywhere near the natural connections to Asia as LA. The massive local market for LA to Asia is like gravity – it makes those flights irresistible to airlines.

    2. Phoenix is a lot like Charlotte in that it is a connecting airport for a large swath of Americans & that is why international flights exist there… (thanks cranky & friends) for that insight.

    3. A good chunk of the US population is west of Phoenix (maybe around 15%) and that segment has more Asians than the rest of the country. Forcing such a large portion of the market to backtrack would not be a good idea. Someone in LA is not going to fly to China via Phoenix when there are so many other options. So having a gateway in Phoenix would exclude a large portion of the market.

  13. I’ve been to China, Japan, and Hong Kong the last couple of years from LAX on AA I really hope once this is all over, they return some of those international destinations to LAX it’ll be hard for me to get my travel partners to switch to something else to be nonstops vs stopping on AA.

    Heck, we were supposed to go to Tokyo this last week on AA from LAX. I wonder if we will see that flight run again this year.

    1. I agree. Looking from outside the US, I see that the USA now has more Coronavirus cases than any other nation (including the much higher populated China). The US is quickly climbing up the ranks of most COVID-19 deaths in the world. What if a nationwide travel ban was introduced? There are airlines out there in the world that have had to stop 95% of there flights (domestic and international). This could happen in the US as well.

  14. I actually mentioned this on another site a couple days ago. AA will not bring LAX back to the same levels as before. If LAX was unprofitable during good economic times, it’s going to hemorrhage money during poor / average economic times. The China routes will not be back any time soon, and those represented half of their TPAC flying. Therefore, LAX’s value as an international gateway is significantly reduced.

    LAX is too expensive to operate as a domestic hub given the California labor costs, airport rents, and operational inefficiencies operating at LAX. All domestic connecting traffic is better served at PHX. It also strengthens the PHX hub by eliminating the cannibalized domestic connecting traffic at LAX.

    The answer and future direction is quite clear.

  15. Cranky,
    I be interested to hear your thoughts on the impact of LAX expansion. I can’t Imagine T9 gets built anytime soon. T0 most likely will. Would AA hunker down in T4 and concede T5 to the cats and dogs?

    1. Great question! I’m looking forward to your reply Cranky. You speculated a year ago that cats and dogs might go to MSC

    2. Sean – It’s too early to know at this point. I would imagine that anything that hasn’t been started is going to be pushed back. Concourse 0 will eventually get built but Terminal 9 seems less certain. But we just don’t know. As for T4/T5, again, no clue. It will be up to American to decide how big it wants to be.

  16. A few points to consider:
    How much of American’s capacity reduction was driven by the Compass shutdown?
    What’s the point of continuing the massive investment in terminals 4 and 5 if American is going to “dehub” or significantly reduce its presence at LAX? What happens to this capital investment could be an indicator of American’s future plans at LAX.
    What will the impact of COVID 19 be on regional airlines?
    What percentage of the overall capacity reductions will be at the regional level?
    I’ve read that both Delta and United have stated that they’ll be smaller coming out of this. It appears American will also shrink, even though it hasn’t made any specific pronouncements to that effect – yet. How much smaller will the industry be after the dust has settled? How long will it take to recover – or was this the catalyst that was needed to rationalize the industry?

    Stay tuned …

    1. DesertGhost – A bunch of good questions, but I don’t think many of these have concrete answers yet.

      > How much of American’s capacity reduction was driven by the Compass shutdown?

      I don’t think that’s really that relevant here since if they wanted to keep LAX bigger they could have moved capacity in. But for April 1-7, Compass is responsible for 40 of the 164 daily flights, or about a quarter.

      >What’s the point of continuing the massive investment in terminals 4 and 5 if American is going to “dehub” or significantly reduce its presence at LAX? What happens to this capital investment could be an indicator of American’s future plans at LAX.

      This will continue no matter what. The creation of the new central checkpoint between T4 and T5 is a key part of the people mover plan. That is the new core that will have a bridge over to the train. So, it’s going to have to happen no matter what.

      > What will the impact of COVID 19 be on regional airlines?
      We don’t know that yet, but it won’t be good.

      > What percentage of the overall capacity reductions will be at the regional level?
      Things are changing so quickly that it’s hard to know. But there has to be, at least at some airlines, a proportional cut since they don’t want to bust scope clause limits in pilot contracts.

      > I’ve read that both Delta and United have stated that they’ll be smaller coming out of this. It appears American will also shrink, even though it hasn’t made any specific pronouncements to that effect – yet. How much smaller will the industry be after the dust has settled? How long will it take to recover – or was this the catalyst that was needed to rationalize the industry?
      We don’t know any of this. It’s far too early in the process.

      1. > What will the impact of COVID 19 be on regional airlines? We don’t know that yet, but it won’t be good.

        Actually, I think regional airlines will be be fine, maybe even grow. The airlines are cutting capacity, and that could include shifting more flights to their regional partners.

      2. My questions were rhetorical, but thanks for your insight on them.

        I wish I had a dollar for every opinion I’ve read about what Southwest, American, Delta, and United are going to do. I’d make Bill Gates look like a pauper.

        Thanks for the numbers re: Compass.

        Thanks for the insight on the capital improvements at Terminals 4 and 5. I’m not familiar with LAX so I didn’t realize the project was going to happen regardless of American’s long term presence at the airport. But since these improvements are locked in, it’s hard for me to imagine that American won’t try to benefit to some extent from its investment, especially given its new relationship with Alaska. It’ll be interesting to see if the American Eagle terminal survives if the airline downsizes significantly.

        As for the regionals, I’m reading that American has parked the last of its CRJ-200s, and some on the other forums have written that they’re being retired. It seems to me that the ERJ-140s won’t be around long either, but of course, I could be wrong. Your point about scope clause proportion is especially relevant with American, as its scope restrictions are based on percentages of narrowbody mainline aircraft.

        The last question I asked was strictly rhetorical, but your reply was spot on. None of us knows what will happen with any degree of certainty. I’m guessing the flying public will ultimately drive many of the airlines’ decisions.

      3. > How much of American’s capacity reduction was driven by the Compass shutdown?

        >I don’t think that’s really that relevant here since if they wanted to keep LAX bigger they could have moved capacity in. But for April 1-7, Compass is responsible for 40 of the 164 daily flights, or about a quarter.

        Actually, it isn’t quite that easy. The only American Airlines Group regional presence (read: wholly-owned) at LAX is the ground handling presence (Envoy). Adminstrative & materiels support for flight (pilots) / inflight (flight attendants) / MRO (maintenance) has been the purview of Compass. Considering the rapidity of the drawdown, AAG wasn’t in a position to backfill that level of station activity that fast.

        As an example, the pilots’ labor agreements of Envoy, PSA, etc. stipulate (IIRC) 60 days to post & fill displacement bids to new bases. LAX would qualify as a new base for the wholly-owned AAG regionals.

        Other non wholly owned regionals with AAG business relationships likely have other limitations to backfill the lost capacity – particulary on an immediate basis.

        Factor in lack of traffic, lack of feed, and mainline fleet drawdown vis-a-vis fleet size limitations relative to American Eagle, my speculation is that with Compass already in the process of being phased out, it was an easy decision to pull that flying without causing disruptions elsewhere in the system. Absent the above, the costs associated with establishing a new base are high (and a non-starter in a low revenue environment.)

        With regard to mainline, one factor yet to be mentioned is the various leave package schema to the pilot group. More than 600 line holders (active flyers) took the early retirement option. Early outs were being offered for those 62 & older.

        I haven’t seen a base-by-base breakdown, but the numbers by fleet type are:

        777. 80 CA. 30 FO
        787. 60 CA. 30 FO
        330. 50 CA. 20 FO
        767. 30 CA. 5. FO
        320. 150CA. 15 FO
        737. 80 CA. 10 FO
        190. 3 CA. 0FO

        LAX is a pilot base for the 777, 787, 737, A320 and skews very senior. Since LAX skews heavily widebody, other AA bases for that share 77s/78s are: 777 – DFW, MIA, NYC(JFK) 787 – DFW, ORD, PHL (pending, but now delayed)

        Now granted, the falloff in traffic would necessitate a drawdown under any scenario, especially considering the various government (U.S. & foreign) & corporate travel restrictions in place now. But, those various restrictions/warnings, coupled with (again – my speculation from this point) the retirements and the forthcoming training bump (AA, in addition to running its simulators 100%, will likely have to resort to leasing simulator time from vendors) due to flight deck upgrades, have caused LAX to be particularly hard hit from a schedule perspective.

        Notice that the flight schedule announcement coincided with the pilot leave announcement.

        Delta, thus far, has not offered anything similar to its pilot ranks.

        In answer to the question originally posited – yes, I believe AA will return to LAX in a scale close to what it was before the pandemic. Perhaps some of SCASD routes will be permanently axed. China – interesting. Depends on how much Chinese subsidized capacity returns, IMO. Even then, AA may just select strategically between having a Beijing flight vs. a Shanghai flight.

        I’d suggest two to three years to recover to a near-former level of LAX flying.

        1. LAX lost a lot of domestic, narrow body mainline routes too. So much so that the only non-hub n/s route that remains I believe is Boston and maybe Honolulu. Your theory helps explain some of the cuts, but given the severity of the cuts, I believe AA has thrown in the towel on the hub.

          LAX always had negative margins for AA during the best of times. It will bleed money during this downturn. The severity of this downturn is so enormous that airlines will not be able to retain hubs that don’t produce a profit because, unlike during good economic times, the rest of the network will not be able to keep unprofitable hubs afloat.

          I don’t think people understand how enormous of a financial impact this is going to have on airlines. During 9/11 the industry was only shut down for only 3 days and most airlines went into BK. It took LAX over 5-7 years before they ever reached the same level of flying pre-9/11.

          During this crisis, the airline networks will be disrupted for 6-8 weeks and future load factors a fraction of what they were after 9/11. The issue airlines are faced with this time is nothing like was seen before. It is also important to Keep in mind hundreds of AA planes are being taken out of the fleet and won’t be back. The airline certainly won’t be placing the remaining fleet in money losing places like LAX.

  17. “The differing strategies seem to be clear here. Delta has gone for breadth.”

    yet another herd mentality at play – still using normal times analytical logic to discuss dust bowl era route planning. None of the stay at home wash hands social distancing means JACK if airlines keep flying people around. Short term revenue gain for even longer term revenue loss (the paradigm down-shifting of GDP that no amount individual flyer loyalty can’t overcome).

    The only thing Delta has gone for is the breadth of the spread of the medical and economic carnage.

  18. As an FYI

    AA has parked many of their a/c at TUL. TUL has closed RWY 26/8 and nearby TWY’s for stored a/c.

    DL has parked many of their a/c at ATL. ATL has closed RWY 28/10 and nearby TWY’s for stored a/c

    UA has parked may of their a/c at MCO.

  19. My wild prediction. If many of these changes stick long term for LAX then this is the beginning of the end of AA. LA is too important to give this much service up long term. Of the 5 destinations I’ve flown to on AA for work from LAX this year only 1 is left!!! Many people gripe about AA, but I’m a fan and have been an elite for a decade, and I’d hate to leave them, but you can’t be loyal to a company if they can’t serve you. Fingers crossed this is purely temporary.

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Cranky Flier