At an industry-wide investor conference on Wednesday, American Airlines President Robert Isom said that the carrier will focus on expansion of profitable routes at three key hubs including Dallas, Charlotte and Washington, DC, while at the same time shedding money-losing-flights at other major hubs including Chicago, Miami and Phoenix.
Speaking at the Cowen Group 11th Annual Global Transportation Conference in Boston on Wednesday September 5, American Airlines President Robert Isom said the airline will focus its efforts towards expanding its presence at three key hubs to include Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Meanwhile, the airline executive said, the legacy carrier plans to rapidly eliminate unprofitable routes at other major American Airlines hubs including Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Miami International Airport (MIA) and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).
Although Isom told the gathered industry insiders that the airline would emphasize growth at the three most profitable hubs by adding new gates and additional flights, he indicated that the airline doesn’t intend to walk away from its other hub airports. So, for the time being, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), along with ORD, MIA, PHX and JFK will continue to be cornerstones of American’s route map.
“We love our network,” Isom told attendees in comments reported by Forbes. “We love all of our hubs. We’re going to focus today on these three.”
American Airlines management has, at times, had rather contentious relationships with regulators and officials at its large hub airports. Isom’s latest remarks seem to signal that at least some of those clashes are now water under the bridge.
In 2015, a lobbyist for the airline threatened to abandon CLT airport altogether if fuel tax concessions were not renewed.
“Texas has no tax on jet fuel; that’s why they have three hubs,” the airline representative warned lawmakers at the time.
Earlier this year, American Airlines went as far as to bankroll a political action committee (PAC) to pressure Chicago lawmakers over the details of a a planned $8.5 billion dollar expansion at ORD.
“By tilting the playing field toward one airline, Chicago is guaranteed less competition,” the airline warned voters through the Keep ORD Competitive organization. “As a result, consumers will likely have fewer choices and face higher fares. O’Hare’s unique position as a dual-hub airport spurs competition, giving passengers more options for destinations, more options on schedule and better fares.”
By contrast, the airline says its plans now include additional gates and both new domestic and international flights at the carrier’s second-busiest hub at CLT. Meanwhile, Isom told investors that eliminating China flights at ORD will save the airline upwards of $30 million each year.