American Airlines is dropping money-losing flights between Chicago and Shanghai, and Hawaiian Airlines will suspend its only route to China because of low demand.
The airlines announced those and other route changes this week. The decisions reflect growing competition from Chinese carriers and rising fuel prices that have made once-marginal routes unprofitable.
American, the world’s largest carrier, said it will end Chicago-Shanghai service in October. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline recently decided to cut flights between Chicago and Beijing, also in October.
In a podcast on the airline’s website, vice president of network planning Vasu Raja said the routes “have been colossal loss makers.”
American flies to Shanghai and Beijing from both Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth. It disclosed the latest pullback from China and reduced flights between Chicago and Tokyo as it announced additional flights to Europe, most of them limited to the summer peak-travel season.
Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement it will suspend its three flights a week between Honolulu and Beijing in October. The carrier started the route in 2014 and had already downgraded it from daily service. Hawaiian said it will shift planes to other routes that fit its expansion plans.
Both airlines said they were keeping alive the possibility of resuming the flights in the future. Hawaiian CEO Peter Ingram said his company still believes “in China’s future as a robust market for the Hawaiian vacation experience.”
Chinese airlines have added flights and destinations in recent years, sometimes undercutting U.S. rivals on prices.
Separately, the Chinese government pressured U.S. and other foreign airlines this year to describe the island of Taiwan as part of China on airline websites, a move that the U.S. carriers initially resisted.
Meanwhile spot prices for jet fuel have risen nearly 40 percent in the last year, tracking the spike in oil prices. Fuel competes with labor as the biggest cost at most airlines.