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American Airlines Cuts Final International Route from Seattle, Seattle’s International Gateway Experiment Fails

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A Failed Experiment

American Airlines has decided to cut its final international route from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), signaling the end of its experiment to turn Seattle into an international gateway hub. The airline had initially planned to resume daily service from Seattle to London for the upcoming summer season, but those plans have now been scrapped. Instead, American will hand over all Seattle-to-London flights to its Oneworld joint venture partner, British Airways.

Slot-Controlled Heathrow Airport

American explained the decision by stating that London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) is slot-controlled, meaning that airlines require specific slots for each arrival and departure. These slots are notoriously expensive and difficult to acquire. To make up for the abandoned Seattle route, American will add a second daily flight between Miami and London, utilizing the slot originally allocated for the Seattle route. This new flight from Miami will begin on April 1, 2024.

A Blow to Seattle's Market

The decision to scrap all international service from Seattle is a significant blow to American Airlines' strategy in the Pacific Northwest and the local Seattle market. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline had announced plans to shift its international focus from the highly competitive Los Angeles market to Seattle. American hoped to establish a strategic presence in partnership with Alaska Airlines to boost international connectivity. However, the pandemic put those plans on hold indefinitely, and the London flight that was eventually launched didn't perform as well as expected.

Impact on Domestic Connectivity

Without international flights, it remains to be seen what will happen to American Airlines' domestic connectivity in Seattle. Currently, the carrier offers service from Seattle to Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. The loss of international routes may have implications for the airline's operations in the region.

Expanding in Dallas Fort Worth

While Seattle may not have worked out as planned, American Airlines continues to expand in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), where it operates its largest hub. The airline recently filed plans to launch a new summer seasonal service to Redmond, Oregon, beginning on May 6, 2024. This route will be operated through October 6, 2024, using a 150-seat Airbus A320.