I'm confused. Is AA actually dropping PHL-ATH? I thought the entire transatlantic operation out of PHL was on hold and now meant to restart sometime mid-August. PHL-ATH is actually bookable from mid-August on a 788. I don't think the intention ever was to move the flight to JFK. That was a net addition.
See which route actually starts first. That'll be the tell. The focus in the near term is going to be O&D traffic plus B6 feeding connections at JFK. PHL is going to take it on the chin as AA rebuilds. They'll continue to use Terminal F to serve express markets that don't need NYC service. PHL was roughly 60% local traffic/40% connecting pre-pandemic. I can't see PHL rebuilding to the size it was in the summer of 2019. I expect it to rebuild as much as it can based on local traffic demands. It can still connect traffic of course, but it won't be as much.
At the end of the day, the net result of this is going to be long haul flights shifted from PHL back to JFK with some of the domestic feed outsourced to B6. The NEA isn’t going to be about AA growth in the northeast, it’s shuffling the deck chairs in the form of moving a few long haul flights to JFK (and a lesser extent BOS) at the expense of PHL. As this happens, AA will need less domestic feed at PHL.
I’m not saying this isn’t a good strategy for AA, only time can tell that. PHL has decent O&D so there will still be the need for something there but I don’t think it will be near what AA inherited from US.
The long term problem for this setup will be the same as what DL found out at SEA. You need to be able to control your revenue and your schedule of your domestic feed to make a hub work. B6 and AA can place codes on each other’s flights and hand out FF miles to the other’s members, but they can’t talk to each other about the two most critical things: price and schedule.
I think both airlines are trying new things out to see what works while it’s relatively “low risk.” Fuel will continue to increase in cost and once traveler’s return in greater numbers, the opportunity cost of these experiments will go up. If they’re successful they’ll stay, if not, they’ll go.
My prediction: JFK-DEL and IAH-LGA won’t be long for the world. LGA-OKC is a very smart add and will probably stick around. I believe AA is the leading legacy at OKC and with the growth seen there, that’s a market that warrants service.