American Airlines plans to axe its non-stop service between Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport before the end of the year with the route’s final westbound flight expected to take place on October 20, 2018.
The announcement comes as part of American’s winter schedule reshuffle. According to the airline, it will seek a “dormancy waiver” from the US Department of Transportation (DoT) on the service.
Speaking about the cancellation, vice president of network and schedule planning, Vasu Raja said that the service was no longer economically viable despite the growth of capacity out of its Chicago hub.
“American is operating more seats from Chicago this summer than in the past 10 years, and we are excited to continue to grow in this important hub,” said Raja. “However the current fare environment severely limits our ability to successfully compete between Chicago and Beijing.”
Despite this, the carrier does not plan to abandon this route permanently and plans to seek access to operate flights at the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is set to open next year.
“We remain committed to China and anticipate that moving to the new Beijing airport in the future will improve the viability of the route through the additional connectivity in conjunction with our codeshare relationship with China Southern in the long run,” Raja added.
The decision to axe the route surprisingly comes soon after the long-awaited launch of American’s non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Beijing last November. This was a route the carrier fought hard to set up, having first filed its request to launch the route with the DoT back in March 2016.
The service’s initial planned launch that December was eventually pushed back, owing to a lack of suitable slots, and in the interim the carrier had to fight off advances from rival US carrier Delta Air Lines to launch its own service on the route.
American Airlines will continue to operate its two other services to the Chinese capital out of Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles.