I’ve written a couple of posts on what I hope will and will not change when American and US Airways merge and their frequent flyer programs become one new AAdvantage program. I also managed to generate a few comments and pageviews (for a random noon hour post) when I wrote my piece on why I thought American will not become US Airways in disguise. I felt it was only fair to write a post on the things that I am almost certain will change as US Airways and American Airlines become one. I caveat this with “almost” certain because nothing is ever 100 percent in the airline industry, and really, this is just intended to have a little fun and perhaps generate some good discussion. 🙂
The Livery – When the new American Airlines paint job appeared earlier this year, I’ll admit that I was disappointed. While it has grown on me just a bit over time, and really does look slightly better in person than in photographs, it quickly devolved into a love – hate thing for us AvGeeks. You either loved it or you didn’t. Maybe the paint haters are more vocal, or maybe that tail art really is as bad as I initially thought it was. I think the paint job is going to change, or at least evolve a bit, especially the tail art.
The Hubs – There are a lot of media types who spout off about the merged airline shutting down this hub and that hub. Usually the conversation comes down to something like Charlotte is in North Carolina, and doesn’t have X amount of local traffic, or Philadelphia is too close to New York. They, of course, have never been to Charlotte, and don’t have a clue what the real financial numbers are behind these hubs or any other….and for that matter, neither do I (but I have been to Charlotte 🙂 ). Here’s what I do know. Routes and hubs will be optimized for maximum revenue and lowest cost. That likely means that things will change. Charlotte, for example, may not see another seasonal European flight expansion like it is seeing this summer. Further, Charlotte may lose its Lufthansa nonstop to Munich once US Airways exits Star Alliance. But that’s not to say that there won’t be an increase in service to London or Madrid for increased Oneworld connectivity. Who knows, British Airways may even return to the Charlotte – London route. Yes, they once flew it, and no, I’m not talking about the wet lease agreement with then US Air. Lufthansa operated its own nonstop services between Charlotte and Frankfurt in the days before US Air decided to add its own flight too. Whatever happens, change is coming to the hubs, and it might not all be negative.
The A321T – Nonstop JFK to LAX/SFO services in a 3 cabin A321? This is the one I’m least certain about. I’ll admit, I didn’t much care for the idea of a 102 seat A321. I thought it was a cute idea whose time had probably passed. In American’s defense, they know what their revenue and expense numbers are for these premium routes. At this point, I think it’s almost too late for these new transcon services to be operated in any other configuration with the A321, and that means that the new management team is going to see how the numbers look with these new birds replacing the very tired 767-200 (sad face) transcon fleet at AA. Maybe the revenue premium they can collect with a true 3 cabin premium service will exceed their wildest dreams and my expectations. I just don’t think that’s going to happen, which is why I think the 3 cabin transcon will eventually be a thing of the past at the new American.
So there you have it from my perspective. Now, what do you think? I’d love to hear your comments.
-MJ, November 19, 2013