As the airlines across the US are drastically slashing the number of flights, grappling with pilot shortages and rising fuel costs, American Airlines announced that is has partnered with the bus company Landline to resume service at a destination where it flew before the global COVID-19 pandemic, as well as opening a new “route.”
Landline has already established partnerships with United Airlines to serve a number of ski destinations in Colorado, and with Sun Country Airlines in Minnesota.
Now, the airline is trying buses as an alternative to planes, with environmental factors, fuel costs, and pilot shortages listed as justifications.
Starting on June 3, passengers should be able to take a Landline bus in AA livery from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania airport (PHL) to the Lehigh Valley Airport (ABE) near Allentown, around 70 miles away by road.
American Airlines will also offer the same service to passengers bound for the Atlantic City airport (ACY) in New Jersey, a distance of about 56 miles. It has not flown to ACY before – its predecessor US Airways did but dropped the service in 2003. The short hop is not considered profitable given the fuel economy of small jets.
The new service American Airlines plans to introduce involves having the passengers clear security at Atlantic City or Allentown and be delivered directly to a gate at Philadelphia.
The AA new travel concept appears to be closely modeled after United Airlines’ ‘bus-as-flight’ connection to the Newark Liberty airport (EWR) in New Jersey, 78 miles away.
Landline, the bus company contracted by American Airlines advertises: “making more of your trip the easy part by partnering with airlines and the TSA to bring the airport to you,” and pitches buses as both fuel-efficient and green. They are very cost-effective for destinations under 200 miles, and “reduce the carbon emission of a regional flight by 80 or 90 percent today,” Landline says.
Flyers however do not see AA’s move as added convenience, pointing out that new service ‘takes just as long as driving.’
According to some public comments, a high-speed rail could have been a much better option, but while US has an extensive network of roads, but lacks the passenger rail infrastructure of Europe or Asia.