American Airlines eyes Edinburgh-New York flights

American Airlines will compete with United Airlines in offering flights from Edinburgh to New York. Picture: Getty
American Airlines will compete with United Airlines in offering flights from Edinburgh to New York. Picture: Getty
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SCOTS flying to the United States could see fare cuts after American Airlines announced it would compete with United Airlines between Edinburgh and New York next summer.

American is scrapping its Edinburgh-Philadelphia route, which launched only six months ago, to focus on the Big Apple.

It will fly daily to JFK airport between May and September, taking on United, which operates daily year-round to Newark on the opposite side of the city.

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The Scotsman understands the JFK route announcement, which was made in the United States earlier this month, was held back in Scotland because of the airline’s nervousness about reaction to the loss of the Philadelphia service.

The move has come despite the influx of American golf fans for the Ryder Cup in September, and an expected increase in transatlantic visitors for 2014’s Year of Homecoming.

American, which has merged with US Airways, will continue summer flights to Philadelphia from Glasgow, which were launched 11 years ago.

The airline will operate a medium size, single-aisle Boeing 757-200 aircraft on the JFK route - the same as United uses.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said he was sure there would be sufficient demand for two airlines on the route.

He said “New York is one of our most popular international destinations.

“We’re confident this new service will be a hit with Scottish passengers, both for visitors to the Big Apple and those travelling to onward destinations across America.”

Transport minister Keith Brown had applauded the airline at a celebration launch to mark the start of the Philadelphia route in May.

He said of the JFK link: “I warmly welcome this new direct route between Edinburgh and New York, which will no doubt be popular with tourists and business travellers alike.

“I congratulate Edinburgh Airport and American Airlines on this new route.”

An American Airlines spokesman said: “The route from Edinburgh to Philadelphia was not scrapped but switched to an Edinburgh to New York service.

“We’re delighted to be continuing services from Edinburgh, but as an airline with nine US hubs, sometimes switching a route to another airport can make the economics of the service work better.”

Alex McWhirter, consumer editor of Business Traveller magazine, said: “Generally in aviation, more capacity (ie seats) equates to keener prices. Therefore after American Airlines enters the route next May we can expect to see tickets sold at competitive prices.

“The airline is not a low-cost carrier, so we will not see really cut-price deals to New York as, for example, offered by Norwegian from Gatwick.

“But there will be attractive introductory fares and good-value prices thereafter.

“Passengers must remember that taxes, fees and charges comprise a large proportion of any long-haul ticket price. This will limit any airline’s ability for offer truly low prices.

“Also bear in mind that transatlantic flights adopt seasonal pricing. Therefore all airlines charge significantly more during the July/August peak season.”

The Scottish Passenger Agents Association, which represents travel agents, predicted that American would fare better against United than Delta Air Lines, which competed on the route for two years until 2009 after scrapping its Edinburgh-Atlanta service.

Alan Glen, its air convener, of Blantyre-based Glen Travel, said American had a larger route network from New York than Delta, which would attract more connecting passengers.

However, he said United would pose a challenge by again stepping up its flights on the route to twice a day next summer, with tickets already on sale.

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