The decline of AA's MAN-ORD route is mainly due to the success of other carriers operating out of Manchester, so it's really good news for the airport.
Most passengers flying to the US hubs from Manchester are transfering onwards from there, so new service to one hub draws traffic from another.
I remember back in 1992 when MAN was the first European city to receive American MD-11 service, 1992 was of course also the first Summer that AA operated double-daily.
At the time Delta's Atlanta service was in it's infancy, being operated by TriStars, only British Airways and American flew to New York. That was Manchester's full Trans-Atlantic schedule!
Today we have US Airways (A330), Delta (B777), Continental (B777) and bmi (A330) all using their highest capacity aircraft on their hub-flights from Manchester. Plus BA (B767) are still around, Pakistan Airlines (B747) are offering some very cheap capacity into JFK and Virgin (B747) have a strong presence serving Orlando.
All this increased competition has reduced the importance of AA's MAN-ORD flights, both to Manchester and American Airlines, there are now far more Trans-Atlantic options from Manchester.
The market's still there, it's just American doesn't have it to it's self as it once pretty much did.
I have hoped for an American B777 on the route for the last couple of years, as soon as bmi announced they'd be serving MAN-ORD I knew it wouldn't happen. On services from Manchester, American have been largely eclipsed by their competitors.
The only other Trans-Atlantic carrier that's been somewhat stagnant out of MAN is British Airways, now there's a coincidence, American, partner of BA are under-utilising the airport
To be honest, since September 11th Manchester's Trans-Atlantic network has shown how robust it is, while the Asian flights are in tatters. Malaysia's withdrawal because they're retrenching to become a regional player, and the loss of Cathay Pacific due to poor performance of the route (they never advertised it, never took the opportunity to go nonstop, BA wanted to shuttle the pax)
Let's hope things get better soon, or the sight of a lone Air 2000 aircraft at T2 may become more common;
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Photo © Colin Abbott