Whatever team wins on the football field, six NFL teams just got the boot from American Airlines in the skies.
American is dropping six of its NFL team charter flights but will continue to fly the Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Carolina Panthers to their games.
American said the changes were necessary to ensure that the world’s largest airline by passenger traffic has enough planes to operate its 6,500 regular daily flights.
“After careful evaluation, we are reducing the number of charter operations for 2017 to ensure we have the right aircraft available for our passenger operation,” said airline spokeswoman Victoria Lupica.
In an internal email first reported by Forbes, American said that it will end agreements to fly the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2017-18 NFL season.
Airlines typically bid to fly charter flights. American has decided to reduce the number of NFL franchise charter flights that it operates.
The three teams American will keep flying are based in the airline’s major hub cities. Dallas-Fort Worth International is American’s largest hub airport, and Fort Worth is the company headquarters.
Charlotte is the second busiest hub. Philadelphia is the fourth largest hub and American’s trans-Atlantic gateway to Europe. American operates more than 400 daily flights here and has 8,300 employees based at PHL.
Miami and Phoenix, which are home to the Dolphins and Cardinals, are also American hub cities. Tempe, Ariz., was the US Airways headquarters before it merged with American Airlines in December 2013.
“We wanted to let you know of a strategic change to our NFL charter commitments this fall,” according to the airline email. “Network planning has advised we will have fewer aircraft available for charter flying in 2017 and after careful analysis it is necessary to reduce the number of NFL teams we carry this season.
“This was a very tough decision as many of the teams have been longstanding customers of the airline,” the memo continued. “The decision came down to available aircraft, location and input from senior leadership.
“We have completed the difficult task of notifying the Cardinals, Ravens, Dolphins, Colts, Jaguars and Steelers that we will not be able to support them this season.
“For those of you who worked these teams, we share your disappointment. We hope to have the opportunity to support these teams in the future should resources become more readily available.”