American Airlines is launching three new seasonal flights from Charlotte in November and December, including one winter flight to the beach resort destination of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The Puerto Vallarta flight will run on Saturdays only, from Dec. 17 to April 5.

American, the dominant air carrier at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, will also launch routes to Appleton, Wisc., and Sioux Falls, S.D., running from Nov. 4 to April 5.

American is ramping up flight numbers after months of cuts earlier this year due to low air travel during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In September, American has been operating close to 480 daily departures on peak days, according to spokeswoman Crystal Byrd. In October, the flight schedule will increase to nearly 500 daily departures on peak days.

That’s still down from February, when American celebrated a major milestone at CLT, operating more than 700 daily flights out of the Charlotte airport.

American launched another new flight this month — a cargo-only flight in Charlotte’s first Boeing 777-200. The Wednesday flight from Charlotte to Munich did not carry any passengers, but can carry thousands of pounds of cargo, American said in a statement.

The cargo-only flight is part of American’s plan to relaunch cargo-only flights, which started in March. This month, the cargo-only schedule will increase to include more than 1,000 flights serving 32 cities — now including Charlotte.

The new flights come to CLT as the airport points to a spike in air travel over Labor Day weekend as a sign that people are returning to airports. Before the holiday, the airport said it expected to see the largest number of local travelers since mid-March, with 13,000 passengers flying out of CLT on both Friday and Monday.

But those numbers still fall short of 2019’s tally. Over Labor Day weekend last year, 32,000 people flew out of CLT on Friday and 27,000 on Monday.

“Clearly our passenger traffic has diminished, but every week we are seeing steady increases in the number of passengers and flights,” Aviation CEO Brent Cagle said in a statement.

Other changes at American

American has made big policy changes in recent weeks, following the lead of other major airlines.

In late August, American announced it would drop most fees for changing flights. The change is a big deal — in 2019, American took in $818.7 million in cancellations and change fees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Airlines have taken major hits due to the coronavirus pandemic, and American is no different.

The air carrier has warned it will cut jobs starting in October, as CARES Act protection for workers expires. In Mecklenburg, that includes nearly 1,500 American employees and 247 employees at American subsidiary PSA Airlines.


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