American Airlines is adding four new lines to its domestic route map.
Later this year, the Fort Worth-based carrier will start flying the following four routes, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the carrier.
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) — Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
- DCA — Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE).
- Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) — Albany International Airport (ALB).
- Miami International Airport (MIA) — Portland International Airport (PDX).
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All of the new routes are interesting, but perhaps the most intriguing is the new service between Miami and Portland, Oregon.
Miami has historically been a fortress hub for American, acting as its key gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America with plenty of domestic feed for both the local and connecting markets.
So, despite the new route being one of the longest coast-to-coast flights in the American network, it may not necessarily be surprising to see the airline adding a new 2,700-mile service from Miami to Portland.
The airline shared in a statement that “American Airlines is pleased to announce new nonstop service from Miami (MIA) to Portland, Oregon (PDX) starting this November. The new nonstop service will complement American’s network of more than 140 destinations from MIA and opens convenient, one-stop access to the largest network of destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America from the United States.”
However, keen aviation observers will remember that it was just days ago when Alaska Airlines, which operates a hub in Portland, announced plans to commence flights to Miami later this year.
While American’s new route announcement could purely be a coincidence, the timing of when the service starts makes it pretty clear that this move is targeted at Alaska. American’s new Miami-to-Portland flight starts on Nov. 5, and Alaska’s will commence less than two weeks later.
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To recap, Miami is going from having no flights to Portland to having two daily flights in just a matter of days.
Though American and Alaska are Oneworld alliance partners and share a West Coast International Alliance, American’s competitive response is seemingly starting a turf war between the airlines.
More flight options are certainly better for travelers, especially since airlines like to match each other’s fares. While Alaska must now fend off a new competitor in Miami, the airline is no stranger to a turf war.
The Seattle-based carrier had a strong relationship with Delta Air Lines in the early 2010s that included a robust codeshare and frequent flyer alliance. By the middle of the decade, however, the partnership frayed as Delta moved instead to build its own hub in Seattle, ultimately competing head-to-head with Alaska on many of its most lucrative routes.
The partnership ultimately ended in 2017 amid an escalating turf battle for Seattle. Since then, Alaska’s been in growth mode — boosting the Seattle hub with new routes and elevating many elements of the travel experience, including new and expanded airport lounges.
Meanwhile, in San Diego, Alaska recently announced new service to Dulles International Airport (IAD), a key hub for United. A few days later, United retaliated by upgauging its route with the airline’s twin-aisle Boeing 777.
Since then, Alaska has been “trolling” United by switching its flight number to “AS 777” and offering select flyers 777 bonus miles for taking the new route.
American’s three other new routes are quite interesting as well. The flight from Washington, D.C., to Fort Lauderdale will go up against JetBlue’s flights in the same market.
While the Northeast Alliance between American and JetBlue may not be around for much longer, the two carriers are seemingly battling at DCA.
Meanwhile, the flight from Dallas to Albany will become American’s longest from the New York capital. The new route to Milwaukee will go head-to-head with Southwest Airlines.
“American is excited to offer more service to Reagan National Airport (DCA) with the additions of Fort Lauderdale and Milwaukee,” said Brian Znotins, American’s senior vice president of network planning. “These new markets join our robust DCA network of more than 85 destinations. We’re proud to serve these new in-perimeter markets without adding more congestion to the most heavily-utilized runway in the nation.”