I was browsing FlightAware and saw the following:


This is an American 767 flying from JFK to Newark (EWR). Surely this isn't a passenger flight...this isn't one of American's normal routes. Why might an AA 767 be making this flight?

  • $\begingroup$ Its listed as one on American Airlines website, Flight 9743, 40 minute flight JFK to EWR, if it were a positioning or charter flight I don't believe it would appear on a search, FlightAware may have the aircraft type wrong though, its known to happen. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Aug 13, 2016 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ I looked up AA flights from KJKF to KEWK. To do that on AA, you have to do KJFK=>KBWI=>KPHI=>KEWR $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2016 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ I can't find it on ITA Matrix, so most likely it's going to be a repositioning flight. Since it's not bookable, and only appears to have happened once, the purpose of the flight was most likely to serve as a replacement aircraft for one that went out of service at Newark for unscheduled maintenance. $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2016 at 8:28
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    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_number#Number_of_digits suggests that 9xxx codes are usually positioning/ferry flights. I have no idea how generally applicable that is, but it does seem to be consistent with the circumstances here. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Aug 13, 2016 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrew I saw that statement as well. It's unsourced, and I was able to find "regular" codeshares using 9xxx flight numbers with little difficulty. So I'm sure it's not true in all cases. $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2016 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


It's a positioning ferry, to move the aircraft from where it "is" to where it "needs to be" for its next revenue leg (or maintenance, in some cases). These sorts of legs are uncommon because they're expensive; ideally an aircraft is never out of position this way, but sometimes "stuff happens" and you fly an empty plane to get it where it needs to be.

  • $\begingroup$ This sounds like a reasonable explanation. Weather can be a reason in such scenarios when an airplane is diverted to close by airports. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Aug 13, 2016 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ But why fly an empty plane. Why not service the route with some extra passengers. The only reason I can think, that it was a last minute decision. $\endgroup$
    – Firee
    Aug 15, 2016 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Firee Normally the airline would do that - they tend to plan their network so that each aircraft ends the day in the place it needs to start the next one. Sometimes though (weather, maintenance, staff issues, cancelled flights) the aircraft is in the wrong place and they have to just send it where it needs to be on fairly short notice. They might know about it a few weeks before or only an hour or two, but that's not long enough to arrange and market a commercial flight. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Aug 15, 2016 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Firee: You only need ferry pilots for an empty plane, no cabin crew. And with an unscheduled one-way flight, you have to find a return flight for the entire crew so it makes sense to fly with the smallest crew possible. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Aug 16, 2016 at 7:01

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