Charlotte – San Jose, CA flights to return in 2017

The good: From May 5th to August 21st, American Airlines will be offering a nonstop service between Charlotte (CLT) and San Jose, CA (SJC). The flight to California leaves Charlotte at 6:20pm and gets into San Jose at 8:50pm. The return flight from San Jose to the Queen City is a red-eye, leaving SJC at 10:15pm and getting into Charlotte at 6:20am. This will be the second summer for this seasonal route, with the flight operating for about a month longer than in 2016. It will also utilize a larger plane in 2017; next summer’s service will be on a 160-seat Boeing 737-800 while last summer’s flights were on a 125-seat Airbus A319.

The bad:
CLT – SJC only operates for three and a half month a year. That’s an improvement over last year, but it’s also a long, long way from being year-round. And it could take a while before this route is flown year-round. It took US Airways/American Airlines some seven years each to develop Charlotte – Portland, OR (first flown in the summer of 2007) and Charlotte – Sacramento, CA (first flown in the summer of 2008) service from three-month summer seasonals to year-round flights. Every year the season kept getting longer for those two destinations, until they were finally offered in the dead-of-winter…

The ugly: While Charlotte is American Airlines’ second largest hub and a huge economic engine for the city and the state, it’s just hard to see the airline adding additional destinations in the Mountain or Pacific times zones any time soon. US Airways added the obvious destinations long ago (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Portland). San Jose is thus the next obvious step. After that there’s… Tucson, AZ… which didn’t work in 2008… Albuquerque, NM… which flopped in the summer of 2015… El Paso, TX… which is just as far away as Albuquerque but a smaller market… Oakland, CA… which Delta can’t make work as nonstop from Atlanta… and Santa Ana, CA… which is heavily slot-restricted…

Bonus observation: If HB2 actually had major real-world impacts, shouldn’t this route have failed?

(And yes, American Airlines also has flights from Charlotte to the “other” San Jose, the one in Costa Rica.)

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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