American Airlines has had a rough couple of years, but after a decent performance in the third quarter and some management “changes” has the carrier finally turned the corner?
American Is Making Money Again
For the second straight quarter, American Airlines is profitable from flying passengers. Despite cargo revenue dipping 20%, the airline was able to grow and it’s not solely based on banking relationships to carry their inefficiency. Profitability would have to be considered a positive trend line that even hapless American Airlines can no longer avoid in the current excellent economy.
Shuffled The Deck, Let Another Go
A couple of months ago, management shuffled the deck and let the person that was in charge of alliances go. That felt pretty closely tied to Delta’s investment in LATAM and departure from oneworld for SkyTeam and I speculated that such was a major misstep among other misgivings about the shuffle.
However, management seems happy to let Vasu Raja, now SVP of network strategy (former SVP Network Planning aka routes aka the same role), to roam a little freer than before. Some new routes were already in the mix (Casablanca to connect with new oneworld member Morrocan for example) but has also opened the door to more ambitious destinations and added/extended more flights directly to European cities.
These changes seem to be headed in the right direction though replacing LATAM and their Miami/DFW flights to many points in South America were hardly replaced by adequate volume or frequencies. For a while, American was happy to cede nearly every flight to Europe to British Airways and simply route traffic to London, however, they appear to have focused on more American metal flying direct to desirable European destinations and that is a start.
Problems Persist but Seem Back on Track
Mechanics don’t have a contract, employees are not happy regardless of whether they are legally prohibited from worker action. That hasn’t changed.
The 737 MAX isn’t back and Parker is going to make Boeing pay for it (maybe, maybe not.) Boeing has some contractual obligations without a doubt, but it was governments of the world that determined the 737 MAX wasn’t fit for the duty, not the Boeing. I’m not saying they’re blameless – they are absolutely not blameless – but I also think it will get really sticky the larger the hole becomes for Boeing to dig out.
Delays have decreased and operations have more or less resumed to normal levels for the carrier. It’s not great, but flying American this week should be a better experience than it was in June. In fact, the carrier’s September on-time performance was the best it had been since 2013.
For as long as I had been a frequent flyer, I was an American Airlines loyalist. As a consumer and as a travel blogger, the US Airways merger has been disappointing despite initial glee. The last two years, American has rapidly declined and stagnated. While I am not yet ready to say for certain that American has turned the corner, it seems like they have made changes they needed to get the carrier back on track.
What do you think? Is American headed in the right direction? Is this but a brief reprieve in Parker and company’s dismal management?