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American Airlines ramps up domestic summer schedule to nearly pre-pandemic levels


An American airlines Airbus A321-200 approaches Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia on February 24, 2021.

Daniel Slim | AFP | Getty Images

American Airlines is expanding its summer schedule in a bet that the resurgence of travel demand will continue as more people get vaccinated.

This summer, American plans to fly more than 90% of the domestic schedule and 80% of the international schedule it operated during the peak season of 2019, adding 150 new routes for the peak vacation season. American said its first-quarter capacity was down more than 43% compared with the same period of 2019.

Airlines eager to capture a rebound in travel are weighing how much capacity to deploy this summer. Demand has climbed as more people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, travel restrictions ease and more attractions, like Disneyland, prepare to reopen. Airline executives will start briefing investors on their strategies this week, when Delta kicks off quarterly reporting on Thursday.

“Throughout the pandemic, our trademark has been to build a schedule based on what customers tell us they want and need,” Brian Znotins, American’s vice president of network planning, said in a news release. “And today, they are telling us they’re eager to get back to travel.”

With international travel still depressed, American plans to use some of its Boeing 777s widebody aircraft on domestic flights to New York and Los Angeles from its Miami hub. American and competitors like United and Delta have added flights to destinations with outdoor attractions like beaches and mountains, as travelers seek vacations where they can physical distance from others.

These options plays can take advantage of earnings season volatility, Goldman says

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