One of the largest airlines in the world is trying buses as an alternative to planes at two destinations, with environmental factors, fuel costs, and pilot shortages listed as justifications.
American Airlines has partnered with the bus company Landline to resume service at a location where it flew before the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as opening a new “route,” Aviation Weekly reported on Thursday.
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, as well as to the Atlantic City airport (ACY) in New Jersey, a distance of about 56 miles.
American previously flew to Allentown, but suspended the service in May 2020. 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, according to Airline Weekly.
The AA deal appears to be modeled after United’s ‘bus-as-flight’ connection to the Newark Liberty airport (EWR) in New Jersey, 78 miles away.
“We started all of this,” Darren Betters, an executive at the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, which operates ABE, told AW. “It works. [Buses] provide connectivity where it would be tough to provide it by air.”
The novelty American Airlines plans to introduce involves having passengers clear security at Atlantic City or Allentown and be delivered directly to a gate at Philadelphia.