American Airlines shifts splashy Doha flight to Philadelphia, a major boost for Northeast hub

American Airlines is making a major change to its long-haul network.

Beginning on Oct. 29, the airline will start flying from Philadelphia to Doha, marking the first time the airline has connected its Philly hub with the Gulf region.

As part of the move, the airline will scrap the splashy New York-to-Doha route that began operating last year.

The airline has already “zeroed out” the inventory for the New York-to-Doha route, meaning that there are no seats for sale on the flight after the airline plans to cut it.

American will remove the route from future schedules during this weekend’s network update, which usually happens on Friday night. At the same time, the airline will add the new Philadelphia route to its schedule, and customers should be able to book flights on this new route by Monday at the latest.

In a statement confirming the move, a carrier spokesperson said:

As part of a continuous evaluation of our network, American Airlines will shift its Doha service from New York to Philadelphia starting Oct. 29. This new nonstop PHL-DOH service will offer connections from more than 80 destinations across North America to Doha. As part of American’s partnership with Qatar Airways, customers can connect in Doha to destinations across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. We’re proactively reaching out to customers affected by the change to offer alternate travel arrangements.

It wasn’t immediately clear what type of aircraft American will deploy to Doha or the route’s schedule. Furthermore, Qatar Airways — American’s strategic partner and fellow Oneworld alliance member — currently operates flights from Philly to Doha, and it remains to be seen if Qatar will cut that route and let American take it over.

We’ll update the story when more details are available.


American’s New York-to-Doha route launched to much fanfare on June 3, 2022, as part of a renewed strategic partnership with Qatar Airways and the now-defunct Northeast Alliance with JetBlue Airways.

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In 2017, American terminated its codeshare pact with Qatar, a move that came amid a broader trade dispute and spats between the big three U.S. airlines — Delta, American and United — and the three big Middle East carriers: Qatar Airways and Emirates and Etihad of the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. carriers contended that their Gulf rivals benefitted from unfair subsidies, something the latter side disputed.

The feud between American and Qatar continued for a few years, despite diplomatic agreements in 2018 between the U.S. and both Qatar and the UAE to settle the dispute regarding subsidies and U.S. flights. American was particularly rankled that Qatar had invested in now-defunct Air Italy. It contended that the investment was a way for Qatar to circumvent the spirit of the 2018 deal by benefitting from new U.S. to Europe routes.

It wouldn’t be until early 2020 that American upgraded its relationship status with Qatar, going from antagonist to partner.

In February 2020, the carrier announced a renewed codeshare and “strategic partnership” with the Doha-based airlines, with American’s then-CEO Doug Parker saying that “the issues that led to the suspension of our partnership two years ago have been addressed, and we believe resuming our codeshare agreement will allow us to provide service to markets that our customers, team members and shareholders value, including new growth opportunities for American Airlines.”


The New York-to-Doha flight was announced as part of this renewed pact, but it was also buoyed by the nascent Northeast Alliance with JetBlue.

As part of the tie-up, American could tap into JetBlue’s robust network from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for additional domestic connectivity beyond the New York City area. For American, the new Doha flight joined the recently launched long-haul service from New York to Athens, New Delhi, Santiago and Tel Aviv.

Fast forward a year later, and the Northeast Alliance is officially dead following a successful Department of Justice anti-trust lawsuit. American plans to appeal the judge’s ruling, but both carriers have already started to wind down the alliance.

Without the extra connectivity from JetBlue, American seems to think that it’s better off shifting the Doha route to Philadelphia, where it also operates a hub.

It’s also possible that American decided to move the route to Philly to free up a slot (essentially a takeoff and landing permission) that it might need to return to JetBlue in order to wind down the Northeast Alliance. (American didn’t comment on the reasoning for the shift to Philly.)

However, American’s Philly hub, which it inherited during the merger with US Airways, has often been seen as one of the weakest links in the airline’s hub structure.

American hasn’t added much Philly service in years, especially after it was focused on growing New York throughout the duration of the Northeast Alliance.

Whether this move is a harbinger of things to come for Philly is anyone’s guess, but this is a development we’ll certainly be tracking.

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