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Update 24 January 2021: American has started to load the flights for both routes into the booking systems. At the time of this update, not all fare codes appear to have been loaded so prices are looking high. Prices should drop in the next few hours as the discounted fare codes are loaded.
American Airlines has now released details of two new routes that we were first told about when the airline announced its new and at the time, surprising, partnership with JetBlue in July last year. Back then, the airline could only tell us that a seasonal route between New York and Athens would launch in summer 2021 and that flights between New York and Tel Aviv were planned for some point in the future. We now know a lot more.
American’s New York – Athens Route
American Airlines will launch a service between New York (JFK) and Athens (the one in Greece, not Georgia!) from 2 June and plans to operate it through the end of its summer season on 30 October 2021.
As things stand, this is the proposed schedule:
AA334 JFK 16:20 – 08:50+1 day ATH (Daily)
AA333 ATH 11:00 – 15:05 JFK (Daily)
The route will be operated by an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 which doesn’t have a First Class cabin but offers 37 lie-flat Business Class seats that are among the best premium cabin seats that you’ll find on a transatlantic flight. The aircraft also offers 24 Premium Economy seats (reviewed here), 66 Main Cabin Extra seats, and 146 tight and cramped regular main Cabin seats.
The flights have not yet been loaded into the booking engines but American Airlines has, apparently, told TPG that seats will go on sale from 25 January so they should be visible in the systems soon.
American’s announcement that this route will launch on 2 June comes at a time when a lot of European countries are tightening up restrictions on travel, and at a time when the US is apparently considering quarantine requirements and more stringent pre-flight testing for international travelers, so it will be interesting to see if the airline actually gets this route going in 2021 or if it gets pushed back to 2022 (my money is on 2022).
American’s New York – Tel Aviv Route
American Airlines was meant to be launching a route between Dallas and Tel Aviv in September last year but, unsurprisingly, that launch never materialized and the route is now not expected to go live before October of this year.
American’s route between New York and Tel Aviv was only first mentioned in July of 2020 but assuming nothing changes in the next few months, it will now be the first route that American operates to Israel in almost 5 years.
From 6 May 2021, American Airlines will operate a year-round daily service between New York (JFK) and Tel Aviv with the following proposed schedule (at the time of launch):
AA146 JFK 23:10 – 17:15+1 day TLV (Daily)
AA145 TLV 00:50 – 06:00 JFK (Daily)
As with the new Athens route, the flights to/from Tel Aviv will be operated by an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 with 37 lie-flat Business Class seats, 24 Premium Economy seats, 66 Main Cabin Extra seats, and 146 regular main Cabin seats.
The route has yet to been loaded into the booking engines but the flights are expected to go on sale from 25 January so they’ll probably be loaded into the airline’s systems over the weekend.
Right now, and according to the US embassy in Israel, foreigners, including U.S. citizens, who are not Israeli citizens or permanent residents are not allowed to enter Israel and have been banned from entering since March 2020. As it’s unlikely that American could make this route profitable just by flying Israeli residents and citizens between New York and Tel Aviv (during a pandemic), it would appear as if the airline is taking a gamble that Israel’s impressive vaccination program (it leads the world in the number of vaccines administered per 100 people) will lead its government to open up travel sooner rather than later.
If that’s the case, this strikes me as a very optimistic outlook and, personally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the launch of this route delayed (especially if the US brings in tighter restrictions on international travelers).
American Airlines has said that it plans to launch a seasonal daily service between New York (JFK) and Athens from 2 June and a year-round daily service between New York (JFK) and Tel Aviv on 6 May. As things stand, both of those launch dates look optimistic given how things are unfolding in Europe and the US so I recommend not making any firm plans around these routes until there’s a lot more certainty in the travel world.