The words still surely echo in the ears and minds of Peruvians.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker explained to a Flight Attendant why Lima flights get the oldest planes.
He said the airline deploys them on, for example, the Lima route because that’s “where they’re the least painful to our most important customers.”
Many airlines care most about the routes on which they make the most money. Because when it comes to importance, money is the most important thing of all.
Which airlines though, generate the most money for a single route?
Helpfully, UK travel intelligence company OAG burrowed into the numbers and produced a list of the 10 routes that generate the most money for a single airline.
Thankfully, America’s Wholesome Twosome, American and United, made the list.
First, though, consider which route generates the most — just over $1 billion a year — for a single airline.
Please bow in the direction of Queen Elizabeth and Duchess Meghan when I tell you it’s British Airways’ JFK to Heathrow jaunt.
OAG calculates that this route makes BA $24,639 per hour. Now that’s a special relationship.
This route doesn’t really enjoy a close challenger. In second place, with a piffling $854.7 million is Qantas’s Sydney-Melbourne hop.
Then it’s Emirates’ Dubai-Heathrow affair, followed by Singapore Airlines’ Heathrow- Singapore marathon. (I used to fly it regularly. It tests the soul as much as the posterior.)
Now we come to the U.S. champions.
In fifth place, please welcome American Airlines’ JFK-LAX route.
This provides America’s silver-bodied champion with $698 million, as movie moguls, famous actors and troubled financial types fly from one self-important city to the other in narrow-bodied confinement.
Very close behind this route, at $687.7 million, is another jaunt from one power center to another — United Airlines’ between the deceptively relaxed yoga hole of San Francisco and the gloriously powerful confines of Newark, New Jersey.
I’ve flown this once or twice over the years. The stultifyingly low level of conversation between tech types forced my teeth to make like piano keys playing Beethoven’s Fifth.
Despite these large amounts, OAG estimates that, on its high-earning route, American makes only $13,801 an hour, while United makes an almost embarrassing $12,130.
The rest of the list sees Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong-Heathrow route generating $631.9 million, then comes Qatar’s Doha-Heathrow route with a mere $552.7 million.
Singapore Airlines’ Sydney to Singapore offering is at number 10, with $543.7 million, while just above it is, oh, Air Canada and its Vancouver to Toronto service. Yes, there’s $552.3 million in that little 4-hour hop.
You might look at all these Top 10 and consider that they all must be busy routes for business types.
Ultimately, these numbers help explain why American and United try to offer business types their best (well, better) efforts on its big money-making routes, rather than, say, the painfully ordinary First Class offering I experienced on American between Miami and San Francisco.
It’s therefore a hearty reminder to those who might fly for pleasure, leisure or in search of the buried treasure of love in a long-distance relationship — you’re not quite as important to airlines as you’d like to be.
Still, I wonder how much, say, American Airlines really values its business passengers.
It’s progressively refurbishing hundreds of its Boeing 737-800s in order to pile in more seats, reduce legroom — yes, even in First Class — and even remove seatback screens.
This is to reflect the airline’s attempt to standardize its planes in line with its new Boeing 737 MAX planes. They’re the ones with the bathrooms that are only two-feet wide.
Perhaps some thought American wouldn’t send these planes on the longest routes.
However, the airline has already indicated its intention to fly them between LAX and Miami, as well as LAX and Washington D.C.
I wonder if this will generate more revenue.