American Airlines (AA) will dramatically scale back its service at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) in early 2024, with 21 routes on the chopping block.
The cancellations reversed AA’s post-pandemic expansion in Austin, which had made the Texas capital a focus city for the carrier.
“Austin remains an important market for American as we continuously evaluate our network. Together with our partners, American will continue to offer customer service to 15 of the top 20 markets from AUS while continuing to offer one-stop connections across our comprehensive global network to more than 350 destinations around the world,” said the airline.
Routes it opened in 2021 and 2022, linking the rapidly-growing Greater Austin area to mid-sized domestic cities and vacation destinations from Bozeman, Montana, to Costa Rica, are among those to go.
The sudden cancellation of routes is believed to be the result of the termination of the Northeast Alliance between American Airlines and JetBlue. Experts note that the aircraft that American Airlines used in Austin were needed to replace the lost planes that JetBlue had in place for their partnership in New York.
JetBlue was also forced to cancel 14 routes because of the termination of its alliance with the Dallas/Fort Worth-based carrier. The airline is discontinuing fourteen routes, primarily in the Northeast, and withdrawing from Burlington, Vermont (BTV).
Which Routes Are Ending in Austin?
- Albuquerque (ABQ), last flight on February 14th, 2024
- Bozeman, Montana (BZN), last flight on January 6th, 2024
- Cincinnati, Ohio (CVG), last flight on January 7th, 2024
- Cozumel, Mexico (CZM), last flight on January 6th, 2024
- Eagle-Vail, Colorado (EGE), last flight on February 10th, 2024
- El Paso (ELP), last flight on February 14th, 2024
- Fort Myers (RSW), last flight on February 14th, 2024
- Jacksonville (JAX), last flight on January 7th, 2024
- Kansas City (MCI), last flight on February 12th, 2024
- Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR), last flight on April 2nd, 2024
- Memphis (MEM), last flight on January 7th, 2024
- Nassau (NAS), last flight on March 30th, 2024
- Oklahoma City (OKC), last flight on February 12th, 2024
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (PVR), last flight on April 3rd, 2024
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ), last flight on March 30th, 2024
- Reno (RNO), last flight on January 7th, 2024
- Sacramento (SMF), last flight on February 12th, 2024
- Tampa (TPA), last flight on February 12th, 2024
- Washington Dulles (IAD), last flight on February 14th, 2024
American Airlines is also scrapping plans to open routes from Austin to Destin-Fort Walton, Florida (VPS), Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ), and Tulsa, Oklahoma (TUL).
After the closures, Austin will remain connected to most of AA’s hubs, except Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and retain a few point-to-point destinations, mostly on leisure routes, such as to Aspen, Colorado (ASE) and Las Vegas (LAS).
Next Silicon Valley?
American Airlines’ belt-tightening in Austin indicates that the city’s tech-powered growth is slowing.
When American Airlines launched its new routes to Austin, the city was being hyped as the next Silicon Valley, buoyed by the opening of offices of tech giants Tesla, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook parent Meta and by the relocation of tens of thousands of Californians, following those tech jobs and seeking lower taxes and a cheaper cost of living in the Lone Star State.
“American is eager to expand in Austin alongside the exponential growth of the region,” said Brian Znotins, American’s Vice President of Network Planning, in early 2021.
Since then, Amazon, Tesla, and Meta have all laid off staff in the region, and Austin posted the sharpest drops in house prices of any major U.S. city between July 2022 and July 2023.
International Carriers Fleeing
American isn’t the only airline that overestimated growth in the boomtown. British Airways is reducing the frequency of its flights to Austin this winter.
Virgin Atlantic will also suspend its service from Austin to London Heathrow (LHR) in early 2024, which it launched just 18 months ago. Virgin founder Richard Branson attributed the withdrawal to “a persistent softening in corporate demand, specifically the tech sector.”
International corporate travel from Austin is still just 70 percent of 2019 levels, Virgin said.
Passengers booked on an American Airlines flight on a canceled route will be automatically rebooked with a connecting itinerary. They can also ask for a full refund if the new itinerary doesn’t work for them.