The 787 was a game-changer to Asia, first fro UA and now for AA; I still think DL will rue their decision to postpone/cancel their deliveries for a long time. Their "close-second" position trans-Pacific is rapidly becoming distant second, and may wind up being third-place-finisher before too long.
Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the 787 could have helped in a few specific markets that are or were "on the bubble" economically (JFK-NRT and SEA-HKG come to mind), but in general, I struggle to see how the 787 would have dramatically altered the overall trend of Delta's Asia network. NRT was not sustainable long-term and was going to get pulled down one way or another - that was evident even back in the Northwest days, let alone the last few years. One of the premises on which Delta based its decision to go into SEA was that it was within 767 range of northeast Asia - Japan, Korea and Mainland China. And that's generally worked. A 787 might have worked better, but the bottom line is that Delta can operate nonstop SEA-NRT/HKG/ICN/PEK/PVG today without the 787.
Having bragged about the 787, though, I am still not convinced its improved economics will convince a prudent AA management to jump into LAX-TPE or even LAX-ICN. The Taiwan market is very price-conscious, and with EVA and China Airlines already established carriers there, it will be hard to break into the market without a lot of blood-letting, low fares - and why jump into a market you know may prove to be money-losing? It is almost the same for ICH; DFW-ICN was a different matter, with its huge dominance at the Texas airport as a base, and being able to snatch the lucrative Samsung contract from KE, AA could immediately see the benefit of adding that flight. Not so at LAX; it would face competition from two established Korean-based competitors, both of whom have partners on the US side and their own extensive networks into Asia. That makes success from LAX much more of a question mark than from DFW.
Personally, I still say ICN has the inside track over TPE. Both markets are enormous, but ICN is the larger and more globally/strategically important premium market of the two. And while it isn't necessarily determinant, lest anyone forget, several years back, AA's own executive specifically mentioned three particular Pacific Rim markets under study as potential new routes from LAX. Those three markets? HKG, PEK and ICN. Two down, one to go.
I think whether or not AA expands with more Australia flights depends on whether or not QF shrinks their operations, and allows AA to do more of the JV flying for them. Flights to Australia seem to have already reached a saturation point for most of the year, and adding seats would only make it necessary to cut fares - defeating the purpose of expansion.
I partially agree. There's no question that capacity in the U.S.-Australia market has grown dramatically in the last decade, and the competitive dynamic has moved from a longstanding, comfortable duopoly to a far more disruptive and competitive competition among three viable rivals (QANTAS/AA, Delta/Virgin and United). So yes - absolutely - the market has to absorb all that capacity or otherwise airlines will clearly see yields depressed even further. But that said, I'm not convinced that, over time, the market won't be able to take more capacity.
And I frankly do think the QANTAS/AA JV is the competitor best positioned to provide it. Not only is QANTAS the dominant airline brand in Australia, but AA is the largest airline at the largest and most important U.S. gateway to Australia - which is obviously LAX. As said, I think it's quite plausible that within a few years AA could be flying a daily 787 LAX-MEL alongside the daily QANTAS A380, and/or a daily 787 LAX-BNE alongside a daily QANTAS 787. I don't find that far-fetched.
Except for London, AA is still relatively weak in Europe, and is M.I.A.
... which, all in all, doesn't look like all that bad a strategy what with all that is occurring with the competitive environment across the Atlantic these days. It is certainly true that AA's Europe network is more concentrated, and becoming more seasonal, than Delta's or United's. That's partly due to AA's U.S. hub network being, overall, structurally weaker for Europe than either of those two rivals. And it's also partly because, frankly, when you handily dominate the market to the market that is by far the largest, highest-yielding and most important, it isn't all that crazy a business decision to largely just focus on that market. And AA/BA do handily dominate the U.S.-LHR market - no question about it.
in the Middle-East and Indian markets (to be fair, so are DL and UA in the ME, although both have tried, and UA has found a way to make some presence in India work.). Africa is totally missing from AA's map.
Again, given economic, geopolitical and competitive dynamics these days, it's hard to really argue that AA is missing out substantially by not flying to the Mid East and South Asia. All are interesting markets - either for their size, or their growth, or both - but the Mid East and South Asia are also exceedingly competitive and/or low-yielding. AA is much better off putting their passengers onto partners who are stronger in this region - and I still don't rule out the possibility that within a few years we could be talking about the integration of Qatar into the existing AA/IAG JV.
As for Africa - the market just isn't there. Both Delta and United have tried it in recent years, and both have ended up pulling back much, if not all, of what they added. The only halfway-plausible market I could ever see AA adding in Sub-Saharan Africa is South Africa, likely MIA-JNB. But given what's going on in South Africa these days, that seems - very sadly - like quite a stretch, at least anytime soon.
Has there been any public reaction by AA?
AA (and Delta) have offered quotes to the press, but I suspect AA is holding off on any more outwardly public statements for now, given that the DOT decision is still - ostensibly - tentative/preliminary, and also given that AA knows how difficult it will inevitably be to get PEK slots.