Why did AA dehub SJC?

Old Oct 11, 2023, 5:58 pm
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Why did AA dehub SJC?

We've talked about this topic before here, but not in the past 10 years or so, so I want to revisit it, especially in light of the fact that AA gets its butt kick every time it tries to build up LAX, SFO isn't a realistic possibility, and DL has done a fairly impressive job in Seattle.

I was living in Palo Alto during SJC's glory years, and found it to be incredibly convenient, probably for everyone living south of San Mateo. The terminal was really nice, and I could reliably get between my office and So Cal (maybe LAX only; can't remember) on Friday evenings. I also flew them to BOS and NYC on a regular basis. If they had ever bothered with China flights, I probably would have used those too, but the NRT flight was a nice carrot.

My understand, based mainly on insights from you guys, was that the two main reasons they pulled out were: 1. Southwest forced them to fly many routes at a loss, and 2. the Silicon Valley economy tanked. However, these were both temporary problems, though the tech economy has had several more crashes since.

United was and is a powerhouse and I don't know many people in SF that would drive past SFO in order to fly out of SJC. However, a lot of big companies still exist in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino. etc. In fact, I've heard that Apple is United's single biggest account.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 6:06 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog
We've talked about this topic before here, but not in the past 10 years or so, so I want to revisit it, especially in light of the fact that AA gets its butt kick every time it tries to build up LAX, SFO isn't a realistic possibility, and DL has done a fairly impressive job in Seattle.

I was living in Palo Alto during SJC's glory years, and found it to be incredibly convenient, probably for everyone living south of San Mateo. The terminal was really nice, and I could reliably get between my office and So Cal (maybe LAX only; can't remember) on Friday evenings. I also flew them to BOS and NYC on a regular basis. If they had ever bothered with China flights, I probably would have used those too, but the NRT flight was a nice carrot.

My understand, based mainly on insights from you guys, was that the two main reasons they pulled out were: 1. Southwest forced them to fly many routes at a loss, and 2. the Silicon Valley economy tanked. However, these were both temporary problems, though the tech economy has had several more crashes since.

United was and is a powerhouse and I don't know many people in SF that would drive past SFO in order to fly out of SJC. However, a lot of big companies still exist in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino. etc. In fact, I've heard that Apple is United's single biggest account.
The failure of SJC for so many airlines has always confused me. It seems like it should work. But...failures abound.

I woukd never have predicted more success for AS in SAN than SJC.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 6:08 pm
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It was a victim of 9/11 and the dot com implosion. It also suffered from terminal/ gate constraints that made a meaningful volume of feeder flights difficult.

Further reality is that getting to SFO from South Bay isnt that difficult.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 6:15 pm
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Originally Posted by DataPlumber
It was a victim of 9/11 and the dot com implosion. It also suffered from terminal/ gate constraints that made a meaningful volume of feeder flights difficult.

Further reality is that getting to SFO from South Bay isnt that difficult.
I suppose both SEA and PDX are better suited to be hubs wrt throughput, but their O&D markets aren't as strong. Meanwhile, SAN is too far south.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 6:43 pm
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SAN is packed to the gills with very, very little room for expansion.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 8:27 pm
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I was returning a rental car at SJC years ago and heard a heavy lifting off to see an AA 772 blasting off to I think TPE. Why not make it a hub-let vs SFO?
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 9:00 pm
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[QUOTE=born sleepy;35656661]I was returning a rental car at SJC years ago and heard a heavy lifting off to see an AA 772 blasting off to I think TPE. Why not make it a hub-let vs SFO?[/QUOTE]

That was the plan in the late 90s, but AA was forced to sell those feeder flights from LAX, LAS, PDX, and SEA at bargain prices on a standalone basis. By contrast, United didn't face LCC competition at SFO, and had a large international network (compared with AA to NRT and TPE only at SJC).
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 2:21 am
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BA has just pulled its SJC LHR flight. Up to now its been a reliable bargain for travel to Europe vs SFO departures.
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 7:29 am
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo
BA has just pulled its SJC LHR flight. Up to now its been a reliable bargain for travel to Europe vs SFO departures.
That might be why.. No airline wants to sell bargain flights. If the travel pattern does not support international traffic (hence the bargain), it is difficult for an airline to make a profit at that airport. Hard to justify a hub that is not profitable.
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 7:36 am
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I work in tech associated with a Silicon Valley software company and tech companies have really but the stop on non essential travel. SJU traffic I assume is very dependent upon the tech world and the tech world is going through a major realignment.
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 10:39 am
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AA had a great network from SJC during the dot com boom. NRT, TPE and CDG internationally.

It was always an experience arriving at the customs shack and deplaning by stairs.

There was the "nerd bird" to AUS as well as direct flights to HNL, OGG, BOS etc. The AA Club was awesome with some great staff who knew all their regulars by name.

What do we have now? DFW, PHX, LAX?
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by IADCAflyer
SAN is packed to the gills with very, very little room for expansion.
And, yet, they are in the middle of expanding T1 to double the number of gates. Not sure what airlines will be moving back to T1 when it is complete, but it should help with crowding at T2.

For SJC, I used to fly there a lot back in the early 00s and was just there a couple weeks ago. I couldn't believe how dead it was; only my flight on AS and another on WN were going.
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog
The terminal was really nice,
I only visited SJC a few times during the AA hub days, back when I was in the US Army in Monterey, CA in 1989 to 1990. My memories of the airport / terminal do not equate with the word nice though. I seem to remember walking through rickety jetways and going outside. I only went through a few times though, and it was a while ago, so my memories might not be accurate.
That said, I think MRY also used stairs instead of jetways. But that airport seemed nicer.
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 2:32 pm
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AA has the same problem in California as it does in New York. LAX ought to be a flagship hub for AA, but theyve screwed that up just like they have JFK. In the Bay Area, they just cant penetrate. Between the UA dominance at SFO and AS and WN stronghold at all 3 airports, theyve lost the game of musical chairs. Meanwhile, us in the west coast are stuck connecting through PHX, the absolute worst hub of any of the 20 or so Big 3 hubs. Unfortunately, AAs strategy is as befuddling as that of my beloved SF Giants - what.thehell?!?!
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 3:12 pm
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Originally Posted by aztimm
I only visited SJC a few times during the AA hub days, back when I was in the US Army in Monterey, CA in 1989 to 1990. My memories of the airport / terminal do not equate with the word nice though. I seem to remember walking through rickety jetways and going outside. I only went through a few times though, and it was a while ago, so my memories might not be accurate.
That said, I think MRY also used stairs instead of jetways. But that airport seemed nicer.
That was about 7 years before my run at SJC. IIRC, AA's terminal underwent substantial renovations during the interim...basically a move by airport/city to at least toe the waters of the big leagues. It wasn't big, but it was much nicer than the other terminal.
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