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American to suspend Beijing route amid fall changes

American Airlines will suspend service to Beijing Capital from Chicago O'Hare in October, amid a number of network changes this fall.

The Oneworld Alliance carrier cites a weak fare environment for its decision to suspend its six-times weekly service to Beijing Capital airport from Chicago with its last eastbound flight on 22 October, it says today. It operates a Boeing 787-8 on the route.

"The current fare environment severely limits our ability to successfully compete between Chicago and Beijing," says Vasu Raja, vice-president of network and schedule planning at American.

Pacific passenger unit revenue (PRASM) at the airline increased 3.1% year-over-year in the first quarter with Hong Kong and Japan driving the improvement, said American president Robert Isom in April. He did not mention China at the time.

American plans to seek a dormancy waiver from the US Department of Transportation for the US-China frequencies that it utilises for the Chicago-Beijing route, and seek to relaunch the service to Beijing Daxing airport when it opens in 2019.

China Southern Airlines, which the US carrier has an equity partnership with, plans a major base at the new airport.

American has operated the Chicago-Beijing route since 2010, when it was its first service to the Chinese capital. It also serves Beijing Capital from Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles with the latter service beginning in November 2017.

Asia has been a strategic focus for American in recent years. It grew capacity to the region at a compound annual growth rate of 13.9% from 2013, when it merged with US Airways, through 2017, FlightGlobal Diio schedules show.

Hainan Airlines and United Airlines also serve the Beijing-Chicago market, schedules show.

NEW SUN RUNS

American will add nine new routes, the majority seasonal, from its Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami hubs this December. Charlotte will see new year-round Saturday-only service to Marsh Harbour with an Embraer 175 and Eleuthera with a Bombardier CRJ700 from 22 December.

Chicago will see new seasonal Saturday-only service to Aruba, Grand Cayman, Nassau and Providenciales on Boeing 737-800s from 22 December, and daily service to Honolulu on a 787-8 from 19 December.

New year-round Saturday-only service between Dallas/Fort Worth and Aruba with a 737-800, and between Miami and St Vincent and the Grenadines with an Airbus A319 will begin on 22 December.

The routes all connect existing destinations in American's network, except for St Vincent and the Grenadines which is new.

American will compete with United on all of the Chicago routes, as well as Bahamasair on Chicago-Nassau and Cayman Airways on Chicago-Grand Cayman, schedules show. No other airlines fly any of the new routes from Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth or Miami.

Separately, the US carrier and its joint venture partner British Airways will juggle service between London Heathrow and both Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami on 28 October. American will shift one of its two daily Miami-London flights to Dallas/Fort Worth-London, increasing the latter to six daily frequencies across the two airlines, and BA will add a third daily Miami-London flight maintaining four daily frequencies in the market.

American plans to grow system capacity by about 2.5% in 2018.

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