A Tenent of American’s New York Route Network Ends August 22nd
American Airlines has always maintained a strong presence in the New York City Area. At times, the airline’s presence in New York has been stronger than at other times. In recent years, American has cut much of its international and domestic network at New York-JFK. However, American Airlines has maintained a large and growing presence at New York LaGuardia.
A tenent of American Airlines’ New York route network has always been American’s flights between New York and San Juan, Puerto Rico. American’s service between New York-JFK and San Juan began in the early 1970s. Flights between New York-JFK and San Juan were first served by high-density aircraft including McDonnell-Douglas DC-10s and Airbus a300s. Today, the route is served by the Boeing 757 and occasionally the Boeing 737.
New York has a very large Puerto Rican population. In the 90s sitcom, Seinfeld, the second to last episode of the series featured the cast making their way through New York City’s annual “Puerto Rican Day Parade.” New York’s Puerto Rican population and vacation flyers, have sustained New York to San Juan flights for decades. However, American just made a shocking announcement. This August, American Airlines will end flights between New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
On August 21st, 2017, American’s last flight from New York to San Juan departs JFK at 7:45 PM and arrives shortly before midnight. The following day, the last flight from San Juan to New York departs SJU at 9:00 AM and arrives shortly before 1:00 PM. American operates a Boeing 737-800 on this route.
As noted above, American’s flights between New York and San Juan have always been an important part of American’s New York City route network. The route itself is over 40 years old and commenced when American acquired with Trans Caribbean Airlines. American’s decision to end this route lead many to assume the route’s cancellation was a scheduling error. American Airlines confirmed that flights between New York’s JFK and San Juan will end August 22nd.
American Airlines’ flights between New York and San Juan usually go out very full. However, just because an aircraft is full doesn’t mean the route is profitable. In recent years, both Delta Air Lines and JetBlue have stepped up their presence between New York City and San Juan. Additionally, United operates Boeing 777s between Newark and San Juan. Though the route is popular and vital to the Puerto Rican population in New York City, many believe that American could not operate this route profitably with so much added competition.
Statement to USA Today’s Today in the Sky
We have made the difficult decision to cancel our service between JFK and San Juan. We continually evaluate our network, looking at supply and demand for each route we serve. We want to ensure our fleet and crews are serving routes that are profitable, better positioning us for long term success against global competition. -LaKesha Beown in a statement to Today in the Sky
Today in the Sky’s Coverage on this story
American Airlines’ flights between New York City and San Juan are a tenent of their New York City Area route network. When American first began service to San Juan, New York City was one of the first hubs to be added out of San Juan. For years, American operated massive widebody aircraft on the route. Flights would typically go out full. However, American appears to have been forced out by the competition. This isn’t the first time American was forced out of San Juan by competition. American Airlines gutted their once massive San Juan hub in the mid-2000s.
Once American’s flights between New York City and San Juan end, American will serve San Juan via its hubs in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Charlotte, and Philadelphia.
What do you think about American’s surprise announcement regarding its flights between New York City and San Juan?
I wouldn’t call LGA “large and growing”. Most of what is there now is on the LUS side, and previously (until mid 2000s) there was considerably more leisure oriented service on mainline S80s and service on mainline to key business markets like MSP. Most of the “additions” post merger were just resumptions of routes cut like ATL, only this time it’s operated by Eagle regional carriers.
their flights aren’t going out full at all. someone posted on a forum that among DL UA AA B6 for NYC-SJU, in 2016, AA commanded both the lowest load factor AND the lowest average fares.