US major, American Airlines is to grow its network into Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America later this year, further strengthening its position in these key regions. Alongside the new routes, American will also reinstate its link between New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and Simon Bolívar International Airport in Caracas, Venezuela, a service that was ended as the Venezuelan government withheld funds from airline ticket sales.
The carrier will introduce almost 30 additional weekly flights as part of an expanded schedule into these regions with flights commencing from September through to December. New regular links will be introduced between Los Angeles and Mexico City (twice daily) from September 3, 2015 using a Boeing 737-800 and between Dallas/Fort Worth International and Quito (five times weekly) from December 18, 2015 using an Airbus A319.
The more leisure-oriented services will commence in the final two months of the year with a twice weekly Embraer 175 link between Los Angeles and Mazatlan, Mexico starting from November 7, 2015 and a twice weekly service between Los Angeles and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica being launched from December 18, 2015 using a Boeing 737-800.
The additional four new routes will commence on a weekly basis from December 19, 2015 and will see Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic served from Chicago O’Hare International using a 737-800 and Dallas/FortWorth International using an A319; while Charlotte Douglas International Airport will be linked to both Curacao International Airport and Gregorio Luperon International Airport in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic using an A319.
"As the premier carrier to Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America with flights to 85 destinations, these additions highlight our commitment to providing our customers with a network that is second to none," said Art Torno, senior vice president for Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, American Airlines. "We are committed to each country we serve, and these new routes allow us to contribute to and further promote travel and tourism to and from the region."
In addition to the 85 destinations throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, American has also served Cuba on a non-scheduled basis since 1991 with charter flights from Miami and Tampa to five destinations in Cuba – Camagüey, Cienfuegos, Havana, Holguín and Santa Clara. The airline is currently offering 12 weekly flights to Havana – the most of any of the US majors – while in total it is offering 21 weekly charter flights from Miami and Tampa to the five points on the island.
The plan to reinstate flights between New York and Caracas, Venezuela, from December 17, 2015 marks a big step forward in relations with the country on the northern coast of South America. The US and Venezuela have embarked on their most extensive dialogue in years in an attempt to improve their acrimonious relations. The relationship between the two countries has waxed and waned for over a decade, with periods of squabbling and diplomatic expulsions often followed by short-lived periods of conciliatory words.
American significantly reduced its activities into Venezuela from July last year as part of a continuing dispute over the repatriation of revenue due to tight currency controls in the oil-rich country. The airline suspended its flights from Dallas, New York and Puerto Rico, in the process reducing its schedule from 48 to ten weekly flights and leaving Miami as the only US city linked to the South American country.
"Since we are owed a substantial outstanding amount ($750m to March 2014) and have been unable to reach resolution on the debt, we will significantly reduce our flights to the country after July 1, 2015," the airline said in a statement at the time. The relaunched New York – Caracas service will be flown on a five times weekly basis using a 757-200.