Etihad Is Canceling Flights To Dallas, Blames American

Etihad has announced that they’ll be discontinuing flights to Dallas as of March 25, 2018. They’re suggesting that this is a service “suspension,” but in reality I think we can all read between the lines.

Back in July, American announced that they’d be cutting codeshare ties with both Etihad and Qatar, due to their disagreements in the Open Skies debate. Etihad is blaming this route cut on American, saying that the route is being cut because it will “become commercially unsustainable following American Airlines’ unilateral decision to terminate its codeshare agreement with the airline.”

DFW Airport continues to be served by Etihad’s Gulf rivals, Emirates and Qatar. Emirates flies to DFW daily using a 777, while Qatar flies to DFW daily using an A350 at the moment, though historically they’ve flown a 777 on the route.

This is only Etihad’s latest US route cut. As of last month, Etihad cut flights between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco, after reducing the number of frequencies to 3x weekly earlier in the year. Presumably this had to do with Air India’s success in the market, given how many passengers traveling on the Gulf carriers out of the US are connecting to India.

Furthermore, as of January, Etihad is reducing their Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles flight from daily to 4x weekly. I suspect that route will be the next one on the chopping block.

Etihad began flying to DFW in December 2014, and has flown the route anywhere between 3x weekly and daily using a Boeing 777 aircraft. Etihad claims that about half of the passengers on the route were connecting on a US codeshare flight operated by American Airlines. Here’s what Etihad’s CEO has said about the route cancelation:

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, said: “The unfortunate decision by American Airlines to terminate a commercial relationship that benefited both carriers has left Etihad with no choice but to suspend flights between our Abu Dhabi home and Dallas/Fort Worth.”

“We are open to American Airlines reversing its decision to cancel our codeshare agreement so that Etihad Airways can continue the route and together protect and support American national interests and global connectivity while driving commercial value for both airlines.”

“The cancellation of the Dallas route is one of several adjustments that we are making to our US network in 2018 in order to improve system profitability. Further changes are possible as we monitor the full impact of the American Airlines codeshare cancellation on summer 2018 bookings.”

It’s a shame to see Etihad cutting this route, though it’s also not surprising. Etihad has been working hard to build a more sustainable business model, and this includes cost cutting their onboard experience and also adjusting their route network.

What do you make of Etihad discontinuing flights to Dallas?

(Tip of the hat to Points From The Pacific)

Comments

  1. I find it funny how Etihad says that the code share benefitted AA. AA doesn’t need them, they need AA

  2. Another one bites the dust. Coincidentally I just sent a question to the Ask Lucky section about Qatar Qsuites routes potentially being cut. Etihad was a potential fallback for getting to the ME and Dallas I figured being a bit more beleaguered compared to other US Cities to ME would be a great spot for award redemption.

  3. Smart on EY’s behalf given the circumstances and further fueled the fire by Dallas not being a huge market for International carriers other than AA. As busy as it might be, it is no ORD, LAX, or JFK given number of carriers serving the area.

    AA and BA are tight, obviously given the fact that they are both OW partners and have the TATL Joint Venture. OneWorld flyers will likely fly to LHR to connect further to their destination, and LH offers many destinations if people will not fly OW.

    Qatar has consistently cheaper fares than Etihad does out of DFW.

    I can see EY pulling out of more markets in the future, since they are not exactly doing well financially (See AirBerlin, Alitalia)

    I can also see Emirates purchasing Etihad and consolidating operations. This will be interesting to watch

  4. I find it funny how they call out American but buried at the end it says they are making adjustments to improve profibility. Obviously there isn’t value for American. The point of a codeshare is reciprocity. Sounds like Etihad is in for a major crisis. Can all 3 ME carriers last if they need to be profitable and have so much capacity to the region?

  5. @Nick in Chicago: I doubt QR will be cutting Qsuites to JFK. I just rode in J on the A350 DOH-JFK two days ago and it was 100% full, mostly with Americans. Both the soft and hard product we’re phenomenal, and the service was beyond reproach. I had my doubts about QR being *that good* before flying them for the first time last week. Now I’m hooked. Pajamas and mattress covers on every J sector. I’ll take them any day over AA.

  6. Whatever you say, Etihad. Lower oil prices means less funny money flying around in Abu Dhabi, which means Etihad’s robed overlords are now demanding the airline make actual business decisions. That’s why SFO and DFW are gone (and it’s probably why LAX is next), it’s why almost no new routes have been launched in the last two years, it’s why no new aircraft have been ordered, it’s why you’re seeing dozens of little cuts made to their formerly extravagant service, and it’s why the plug was (mercifully) pulled on James Hogan’s strategy of buying up poorly run airlines. We’ll see how much longer The Residence lasts.

    Among the ME3, the reckoning came to Etihad first.

  7. What I find funny is that the ad placement for this particular blog is from the “US Airlines for Open Skies” — not to be confused with the “Partnership for Open and Fair Skies.”

  8. “Obviously there isn’t value for American. The point of a codeshare is reciprocity.” (@Marsh)

    The value for AA was being able to sell AA-coded tickets to Africa, the ME and Indian subcontinent, for which AA got a cut without having to do anything. Also AAdvantage awards to these destinations, which have now been discontinued except in Y.

    I never understood why AA had such a hissy-fit about the ME3 when they don’t compete on most routes. BA does, and apparently AA went to bat for BA rather than for itself.

    The EY statement includes an explicit plea for AA to restore the codeshare. Probably won’t happen, but Barkis is willing.

  9. Though there is a large local South Asian population locally, the potential traffic was never large enough to support three daily flights from the ME3. It’s likely than none of these flights have ever made a dime. Both Qatar and Etihad had either code sharing or alliance relationships with AA. Now AA isn’t providing that feed and there’s certainly no reason for two of these flights. Emirates was running a more than half empty A380 and downgraded that to 777. I don’t think that the fallout from DFW on flights to the Gulf is over.

  10. @TFTC I’d be surprised if Abu Dhab would allow Emirates to “purchase Etihad”. While it might make sense, and the UAE (especially Abu Dhabi) is on a huge consolidation push (Mubadala/IPIC, NBAD/FGB, ADNOC/ADCO/ZADCO) the two competing families would have to do it in such a way that neither side looks weak. Possibly creating an entirely new brand. Which considering the name recognition of Emirates all over the world wouldn’t be easy to pull off.

  11. The biggest risk with this AA-Etihad issue is reward redemptions.

    Just imagine if US airline frequent flyers couldn’t use their miles on ME and Asian airlines?

  12. James Hogan disastrously managed Gulf Air before heading off to Etihad with his “Sky Chefs” and doing it all again.

  13. Lucky,

    Does AA award tickets still entitle chauffeur services in Abu Dhabi? If I am connecting there for 23 hours can I get a ride to Dubai?

    TIA!

  14. I’m booked in F from DFW->AUH->BKK in June with AA miles. What responsibility does AA have in rebooking me? Am I stuck with whatever award space is left at this point? I’m open to going TPAC, but want to know what AA’s responsibility is before I call them.

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