The Fort Worth-based carrier confirmed to TPG that it will launch a slew of new and expanded leisure-focused routes from its Chicago O’Hare (ORD) hub this summer, aiming to capitalize on demand from pandemic-weary travelers looking for outdoor-friendly getaways.
Billings, Montana (BIL) and Fresno, California (FAT), two of the five new routes, are both gateways to major national parks: Yellowstone and Yosemite, respectively.
Nantucket, Massachusetts (ACK) and Santa Barbara, California (SBA) are also receiving new seasonal service, while a new regular nonstop connection is provided to Spokane, Washington (GEG).
With service resumptions or schedule extensions, three Florida cities — Key West (EYW), Panama City (ECP), and Sarasota (SRQ) — are all getting huge boosts.
The complete list of five new routes and six expanded routes can be found below. Over the weekend, the new flights will be added to the schedule, and they will be available to book on Monday, March 1.
Nantucket will get two new and improved nonstops, one from the carrier’s Philadelphia hub and the other from JetBlue’s Newark hub, as part of the new Northeast partnership. Cirium schedules currently indicate that Nantucket will see about 15% fewer flights in July 2021 than in 2019.
After Southwest Airlines starts serving both cities with nonstop service from a combination of its Denver, Las Vegas, and Oakland bases, American’s Fresno and Santa Barbara routes will be closely followed.
O’Hare’s only nonstop service to those cities will be both the FAT and SBA flights. Due to the pandemic, United last flew to Fresno in March 2020, before suspending the route indefinitely.
According to data from the Department of Transportation, there were approximately 60 and 30 regular passengers traveling from Chicago to Fresno and Santa Barbara, respectively, in 2019. These statistics only include flyers originating in Chicago, so the new flights could be popular if American could deliver well-timed connecting itineraries via O’Hare.
The bulk of expanded and resumed flights would contend with Chicago’s biggest American competitor, United Airlines, head-to-head. Except for Harlingen, Texas, and Ontario, California, United plans to travel to all of the other Florida and North Carolina destinations that American is boosting during the summer season.
At the carrier’s Miami center, the Chicago drive comes on the heels of another big expansion. AA is introducing new routes, including a new long-haul flight from Miami to Tel Aviv, and capacity building to destinations with heavy VFR traffic through Latin America and the Caribbean (visiting friends and relatives).
The new routes are as follows:
Origin Destination Season Aircraft
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Santa Barbara (SBA) May 8 – Sept. 7 on Saturdays and Sundays Airbus A319
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Billings, Montana (BIL) June 3 – Sept. 7; daily Envoy Embraer 175
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Fresno, California (FAT) June 3 – Sept. 7; daily Airbus A319
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Spokane, Washington (GEG) June 3 – Sept. 7; daily Airbus A319
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Nantucket, Massachusetts (ACK) June 26 – Sept. 7; Saturday-only Republic Embraer 17
Extended and resumed flights:
Origin Destination Season Aircraft
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Asheville, North Carolina (AVL) June 3 – Sept. 7; weekly seasonal Envoy Embraer 175
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Panama City, Florida (ECP) June 3 – Sept. 7; weekly seasonal Envoy Embraer 175
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Key West, Florida (EYW) Year-round Republic Embraer 175
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Sarasota, Florida (SRQ) Daily year-round, except for 2x daily on Saturdays from June 3 – Sept. 7 Envoy Embraer 175
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Harlingen, Texas (HRL) Once-weekly Saturday flights extended through Sept. 7 SkyWest CRJ-700
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Ontario, California (ONT) Twice-daily service resumes Aug. 17 Boeing 737-80