by Michael Lowrey
American Airlines currently has year-round service from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to 10 destinations in the Pacific and Mountain time zones: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Sacramento, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City. The airline also flew from CLT to San Jose last summer (June through mid-August); there’s no word yet on whether that route will return for 2017.
So what’s that leave as the largest unserved market out west (Pacific and Mountain time zones) from American Airlines’ big hub in Charlotte? John Wayne Airport in Orange Couty, CA. It’s also known as Santa Ana, which explains its airport code of SNA. SNA is one of four secondary airports to that see significant amounts of scheduled air service in the Los Angeles area. The major airport in the region is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); the others secondary airports are located in Burbank (BUR), Long Beach (LGB), and Ontario (ONT).
So might we see American add a flight from Charlotte to Orange County in 2017? Probably not. SNA is one of those airports that has been capacity limited because of local NIMBYs since back in the day. The airport hands out a limited number of departure slots for airlines to use. American currently has 18 flights a day (9 x Dallas/Ft. Worth, 5 x Phoenix, 4 x Chicago O’Hare) to SNA and did not get additional slot(s) for next year.