Charlotte aviation baseline 2016: American Airlines

Here’s a summary of American Airlines fights from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) for Thursday, August 11, 2016:

By aircraft type:
Widebody: 8 (3 A330-300, 5 A330-200)
Narrowbody mainline: 288 (3 757, 17 737-800, 114 A321, 43 A320, 111 A319)
Large regional jets: 228 (26 E175, 164 CRJ900, 38 CRJ700)
50-seat regional jet: 83 (81 CRJ, 2 ERJ)
Turboprop: 54 (45 DHC-300, 9 DHC-100)
Total flights: 661
Total seats available: About 71,200

Total nonstop destination served by American Airlines at some point during the year: 150

Seasonal destinations for which the season isn’t now: 1 (Key West)

European destinations:
8 flights to 7 cities: London Heathrow (2 x A333), Barcelona (A332), Dublin (A332), Frankfurt (A332), Madrid (A332), Paris (A332), Rome (A333)

Year-round flights to Europe: Just Frankfurt and London — the rest are summer seasonals

South American destinations: None

Destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central American, and Bermuda with daily flights: 13 (Aruba, Cancun, Freeport, Grand Cayman, Mexico City, Montego Bay, Nassau, Providenciales, Punta Cana, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Jose, San Juan)

With Saturday or weekend-only flights: 12 (Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cabo, Cozumel, Curaçao, Liberia, Puerto Plata, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Lucia)

Destinations served in Canada: 2 (Toronto, Montreal)

Destinations served year-round in the continental US:
114

Seasonal destinations in the continental US: 2 (Key West, San Jose)

Number of states served:
40

Destinations served in the mountain and pacific time zones: 11 with 43 daily flights (Phoenix 9, Denver 6, Los Angeles 6, San Francisco 6, Las Vegas 5, Seattle 4, San Diego 3, Portland, OR 1, Sacramento 1, Salt Lake City 1, San Jose 1)

New destinations added in the past year: 6 (Burlington, VT, Madison, WI, San Jose, CA, Springfield, MO, Curaçao, Puerto Plata)

Pending new routes: 3 (Havana date TBD, Cedar Rapids, IA (twice a day on a CRJ700s, starts Nov. 5), Peoria, IL (twice a day on 50-seat RJ, starts Nov. 5)

Destinations dropped in the past year: 1 (Albuquerque)

Year-to-comparison: Compared to last year (August 13, 2015 to be exact), American Airlines capacity at its big CLT hub is, depending upon you look at it, either flat or up a fair amount. The number of daily flights this August as compared to August 2015 increased by exactly one, to 661 from 660. The airline has added three new year-round domestic daily destinations (five flights a day total) and a summer-only flight to San Jose, which replaced Albuquerque, last summer’s seasonal experiment which didn’t work out. Beyond that, eight cities gained a flight in 2016 as compared to 2015 while 12 cities lost a flight. There are also two new Saturday-only Caribbean flights, though the net gain in service from Charlotte overall is only one destination, as American’s new Curaçao flight replaced Insel Air’s weekly flight to Curaçao.

If you look at available seats, the story is much different though. This year’s survey shows American offering about 71,200 seats a day, up from 69,500 last year, a 2.5 percent increase. Average aircraft size is also up, from 105.4 seats/flight last year to 107.8 seats/flight this year.

This capacity increase came almost entirely on the regional side as 2016 was the year that 50-seat regional jet reductions started to happen out of Charlotte. In August 2015, American had 201 flights on aircraft seating 50 or less from CLT. This year, the number is down to 137. The number of large regional jets, aircraft seating 65 to 80, and featuring a first-class section that the smaller aircraft lack, has grown to 228 from 167.

Will this trend towards more large regional jets and fewer smaller regional jets and turboprops continue? In the long run yes, as the 50-seat regional jet went out of production about a decade ago and the larger planes are more comfortable, have a lower cost per available seat mile, and greater revenue from their first-class section. For now though, probably not so much. American took delivery of the last CRJ900 it had on order last week. Future orders will depend in large part on a new pilots contract that increases the number of larger regional jets that American Airline’s regional partners can fly.

Bonus comparison: Looking back further, American and US Airways topped out at a combined 670 flights a day for 71,000 seats in the summer of 2014, just after their merger was approved.

Michael Lowrey

Michael Lowrey is a contributor to Carolina Journal and a policy analyst for the John Locke Foundation. Lowrey has written numerous articles for the foundation on topics su...

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