American Airlines Group Inc. is adding new flight destinations from its Chicago hub less than two weeks after United Continental Holdings Inc. announced a similar expansion.

O’Hare International will get seven new routes to mid-sized U.S. cities starting July 5 at American, according to a letter to employees Thursday from the airline’s president, Robert Isom. The Chicago airport also got the bulk of 47 new round trips announced by United on Feb. 27.

The new service sharpens a clash between the two airlines since Scott Kirby became president of United six months ago after leaving the same post at American. Both airlines, which have major operations in Chicago, are adding flights to secondary destinations where there’s less competition and more ability to control prices.

“The greatest strength of our network is our ability to connect small cities with large ones through service to or through our hubs,” Isom’s letter said.

‘Docile Competitor’

In announcing United’s new routes last month, Kirby vowed to regain ground lost to rivals. He said the Chicago-based airline would no longer be a “docile competitor.”

American also said Thursday it would add a flight between Dallas-Fort Worth International to Spokane, Washington, and one between Miami and Omaha, Nebraska. The new routes follow 15 domestic and international flights that have been added over the past year from six of American’s hubs.

The new service won’t change a plan to limit the capacity increase of flights and seats to 1 percent this year, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company said.

United surpassed American this year in market value, an indication of investors’ confidence in the efforts of Kirby and Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz to turn around the former laggard of the U.S. industry. American remains the world’s largest carrier in terms of miles flown by paying passengers.

 

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Photo Credit: Chicago O'Hare is a focal point of American and United's latest competitive moves with route expansions. Chicago O'Hare International Airport