American Airlines plans to defend its turf at Dallas/Fort
Worth (DFW) hub against Icelandic carriers Icelandair and Wow.
From June 7 to Oct. 26, American will operate seasonal
service between DFW and Reykjavik. It will be American's first Iceland service
and the decision to fly the route follows Dallas-Reykjavik service
announcements by both Icelandair and budget carrier Wow in September. Wow will
begin flying the route on May 24, six days before the Icelandair service
In an email Tuesday, American spokeswoman LaKesha Brown
steered clear of a question about whether American's decision to serve Iceland
should be viewed as a response to the two Icelandic airlines.
"American is always looking at our network to ensure we're
taking customers to the places they most want to go, and Reykjavik is no
exception," she said. "Reykjavik is Iceland's capital city and has
become a very popular leisure destination for summer travel, and DFW provides
our customers excellent connecting opportunities with extensive connections
available through our largest hub."
Indeed, fueled by the rise of Wow and by fare wars between
Wow and Icelandair, Reykjavik has become increasingly popular with U.S. tourists.
In the first half of this year, the number of roundtrip tickets purchased in
the agent channel for travel between Iceland and the U.S increased 42%
year-over-year, according to ARC.
Still, American's decision to make Dallas-Reykjavik its first
Iceland route is almost certainly intended as a signal to Icelandair and Wow, said
Seth Kaplan, managing partner of the newsletter Airline Weekly.
"They are clearly drawing a line in the sand. I don't
think this is because they looked at their forecast and suddenly decided that
the Dallas metroplex needs three airlines competing to Reykjavik where it
previously needed none," Kaplan said.
American doesn't' offer the connecting route network from
Reykjavik that Icelandair and Wow do, though it obviously has an enormous
advantage over those carriers for travel to and from DFW.
Kaplan said that the commercial challenge presented to
American by Icelandair and Wow is largely in connecting European service. For
example, both Icelandic carriers fly to Stockholm, a city a Dallas traveler
could also reach by flying American to London Heathrow and then connecting onto
American's joint venture partner British Airways.
With Wow and Icelandair already engaged in fare wars in
several U.S. markets, the addition of American will almost certainly put even
more downward pressure on fares.
"We plan to offer attractive fares that compete with
comparable product offerings," American's Brown said.
American's decision to fly Dallas-Reykjavik echoes United's
decision in September to begin seasonal Newark-Reykjavik service in May. That route
will be United's first offering to Iceland. United will be
defending its hub against Wow and Icelandair.
A difference, however, is that United was able to analyze
the results of the carriers' Newark-Iceland routes before deciding to fly the
market. Icelandair began Newark flights in the fall of 2013 and Wow Air
launched Newark service a year ago.
American said it will fly Dallas-Reykjavic with a Boeing 757
single-aisle aircraft that features lie-flat business-class seats. Neither Wow
nor Icelandair offer a lie-flat product.
Correction: United also decided to take on Wow and Icelandair, as the airline will launch seasonal Newark-Reykjavik service in May.