American Airlines, Inc. (AA) is a US-based airline and the world's largest airline in total passenger miles transported and passenger fleet size. It's the second largest, behind FedEx Express, in total aircraft operated and also second largest behind Air France-KLM) in total operating revenues. A wholly owned subsidiary of the AMR Corporation, the airline is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, adjacent to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. American operates scheduled flights throughout the United States, as well as flights to Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Japan, China, and India. The Chairman, President, and CEO of AA is Gerard Arpey. In 2005, the airline flew more than 138 billion revenue passenger miles (RPM).
American Eagle Airlines is a Fort Worth, Texas-based regional airline partner of American Airlines, wholly owned by AMR Corporation.
On January 25, 1930, American Airways was incorporated as a single company, based in New York, with routes from Boston, New York and Chicago to Dallas, and a route from Dallas to Los Angeles. The airline operated wood and fabric-covered Fokker Trimotors and all-metal Ford Trimotors. In 1934 American began flying Curtiss Condor biplanes fitted with sleeping berths.
Smith worked closely with Donald Douglas to develop the DC-3, which American Airlines started flying in 1936. With the DC-3, American began to brand itself using nautical terms, calling its aircraft "Flagships" and establishing the "Admirals Club", an honorary club for valued passengers. The DC-3s had a four-star "admiral's pennant" which would fly outside the cockpit window while the aircraft was parked, one of the most well-known images of the airline at the time.
American Airlines was the first airline to cooperate with Fiorello LaGuardia's plans to build an airport in New York City, and partly as a result became the owner of the world's first airline lounge at the new LaGuardia Airport (LGA), which became known as the "Admirals Club." Membership was initially by invitation only, but a discrimination suit decades later changed the club into a paid membership club, creating the model for other airline lounges.
After World War II, American launched an international subsidiary, American Overseas Airlines to serve Europe; however, AOA was sold to rival Pan Am in 1950. AA launched another subsidiary around the same time, Líneas Aéreas Americanas de Mexico S.A., to operate flights to Mexico, and built several airports there.
American Airlines was an early adopter of jet aircraft, and introduced the first transcontinental jet service using Boeing 707s on 25 January 1959. With the introduction of its "Astrojets", as it dubbed the new jet fleet, American's focus shifted to nonstop coast-to-coast flights, although it maintained feeder connections to other cities along its old route using smaller Convair 990s and Lockheed Electras. American invested $440 million in jet aircraft up to 1962, launched the first electronic booking system (Sabre) together with IBM, and built an upgraded terminal at Idlewild (now JFK) Airport in New York City which became the airline's largest base of operations.
In the late 1980s, American opened three new hubs for north-south traffic. San Jose International Airport was added as a hub after American purchased AirCal. American also built a new terminal and runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to take advantage of the rapidly-growing Research Triangle Park nearby, as well as compete with USAir's hub in Charlotte. Nashville was also chosen as a hub.
In 1990, American Airlines bought the assets of TWA's operations at London Heathrow airport for $445 million, giving American a hub there. Until the adoption of the "open skies" agreement in April 2008, the US/British treaty Bermuda II the only U.S. airlines allowed to serve Heathrow were American and United Airlines.
Lower fuel prices in the era and a favorable business climate at the time led to higher than average airline industry profits. The industry's expansion was not lost on the American Airlines pilots who on February 17, 1997 went on strike for higher wages. President Bill Clinton invoked the Railway Labor Act citing economic impact to the United States a few minutes later quashing the strike. Pilots settled for substantially lower wage increases than their demands as a result.
The three new hubs were all abandoned in the 1990s: some San Jose facilities were sold to Reno Air, and likewise at Raleigh/Durham to Midway Airlines. Midway went out of business in 2001. American purchased Reno Air in February 1999 and fully integrated its operations on 31 August 1999, but did not resume hub operations in San Jose. American discontinued most of Reno Air's routes, and sold most of the Reno Air aircraft, much as they had done with Air California 12 years earlier. The only remaining route from the Air California and Reno Air purchases is San Francisco to Los Angeles.
During this time, investor concern over airline bankruptcies and falling stock prices brought a now-prophetic warning from American's CEO Robert Crandall, an executive known for his candor. "I've never invested in any airline," Crandall said. "I'm an airline manager. I don't invest in airlines. And I always said to the employees of American, 'This is not an appropriate investment. It's a great place to work and it's a great company that does important work. But airlines are not an investment.'" Crandall noted that since the airline deregulation of the 1970s, some 150 airlines had gone out of business. "A lot of people came into the airline business. Most of them promptly exited, minus their money," he said.
Miami also became a hub after American bought Central and South American routes from Eastern Air Lines in 1990 (inherited from Braniff International Airways but originated by Panagra). Through the 1990s, American expanded its route network in Latin America to become the dominant U.S. carrier in the region.
On 15 October 1998 American Airlines became the first airline to offer electronic ticketing in all 44 countries it serves.
The merger of seniority lists remains contentious particularly for pilots - the groups were represented by different unions at their respective airlines. In the final merger, 60 percent of former TWA pilots were moved to the bottom of the seniority list at AA. All were subsequently furloughed, and most remain on furlough. The most senior TWA captain, hired in 1963, was integrated at the same seniority level as an AA captain hired in 1985. All TWA captains and first officers hired in March 1989 and later were appended to the seniority list junior to American Airlines first officers hired in June 2001. However, TWA pilots were given super-seniority and a ratio of positions as captain if they stayed in St. Louis. The result was that most former TWA pilots stayed in St. Louis and roughly maintained their same relative seniority; though, some left St. Louis and flew in the co-pilot seat next to AA pilots who may have been hired at a later date, but are more senior outside the protections afforded to that base. The extensive furloughs of former TWA pilots in the wake of the 9/11 attacks disproportionately affected St. Louis and resulted in a significant influx of American Airlines pilots. For cabin crews, all former TWA flight attendants (approximately 4,200) were furloughed by mid-2003 due to the AA flight attendants' union putting TWA flight attendants at the bottom of their seniority list.
In the wake of the TWA merger and the roughly concurrent September 11, 2001 attacks, American Airlines began losing money. Carty negotiated wage and benefit agreements with the airline's labor unions, but was forced to resign after union leaders discovered he was planning to award executive compensation packages at the same time. St. Louis' hub was also downsized.
In Carty's wake, American has undergone additional cost-cutting measures, including rolling back its "More Room Throughout Coach" program (which eliminated several seats on certain aircraft), ending three-class service on many international flights, and standardizing its fleet at each hub (see below). However, the airline has rebounded and expanded its service into new markets, including Ireland, India and mainland China.
On July 20, 2005, for the first time in 17 quarters, American announced a quarterly profit; the airline earned $58 million in the second quarter of 2005. It had previously lobbied for the preservation of the Wright Amendment, which regulates commercial airline operations at Love Field in Dallas. On June 15, 2006, American reached an agreement with Southwest Airlines and the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth to seek repeal of the Wright Amendment on the conditions that Love Field remain a domestic airport and that its gate capacity be limited.
American Airlines canceled over 1,000 flights to inspect wire bundles over three days in April 2008, and to make sure they were compliant with government safety regulations. This massive disruption caused significant inconvenience to its passengers, and substantial financial problems for the airline. American is also in the process of replacing all its MD-80 jets with Boeing 737s. In May 2008, a month after its mass grounding of aircraft, American announced a series of capacity cuts and fees to increase revenue and help cover the high fuel prices. The airline increased fees such as a $15 charge for the first checked bag and $25 for the second, as well as a $150 change fee for domestic reservations. American Airlines also announced in May that it expects to retire 40 to 45 mainline aircraft in fall 2008, the majority of which will consist of fuel-inefficient MD-80s but will also include some Airbus A300 aircraft. AA's regional airline will retire 35 to 40 regional jets around the same time, as well as its entire Saab turboprop fleet.
On July 2, 2008, American announced furloughs of up to 950 flight attendants, via Texas' Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act system. This furlough is in addition to the furlough of 20 MD-80 aircraft. Another casualty will be American's hub operations at SJU that will be truncated by over 50 percent (from 38 to 18 daily inbound flights), effective 3 September, but the carrier will retain service in a diminished capacity.
On August 13, 2008, the Kansas City Star reported that American airlines would be moving some overhaul work now performed at its Kansas City, Missouri maintenance base. Repairs on Boeing 757s will be performed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and some 767 maintenance will be moved there as well; at least one, and possibly two, Boeing 767 repair service lines will be retained at Kansas City International Airport. The narrow-body repair hangar will be shut down. The city's aviation department had offered to upgrade the repair facilities on condition that the airline maintain at least 700 jobs there. In 2008, American Airlines started charging $15.00 to check a first bag on tickets purchased after June 15, 2008. These charges only apply for passengers traveling domestically. Some AAdvantage (Frequent Flyer) program members and passengers on itineraries containing an international segment are exempt from this charge. Passengers can check a second bag for $25.00. Third, fourth and fifth bags may be checked for $100.00 each. Further checked baggage costs $200.00 per item. American Airlines is not the only airline doing this, as Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways are now joining American Airlines and charging $15.00 for customers' first checked bags. There may be some exceptions.
American Airlines serves destinations on four continents. Its network is particularly developed in the Americas, where it serves more destinations than any other airline. Hubs at Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and New York (JFK) serve as major gateways to the Americas, while American's Chicago hub has become the airline's primary gateway to Europe and Asia, and St. Louis is a regional hub for the airline.
In recent years, American has begun to expand its network in Asia, albeit with mixed success. In 2005, American re-introduced a non-stop flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Osaka, which has since been discontinued. American also launched non-stop service from Chicago to Nagoya, but that too ended within a year. Also in 2005, American launched service from Chicago to Delhi. Somewhat surprising to some (given the lack of success that United Airlines encountered operating the same route) this service has been profitable. In April 2006, American began service from Chicago to Shanghai, which has also proven to be profitable for the company. However, in October 2006, American ceased its San Jose, CA to Tokyo/Narita service, leaving LAX as American's sole international gateway on the West Coast. American planned to start flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and Beijing via Chicago-O'Hare (on Westbound only) in 2007 but lost its bid to United Airlines' Dulles to Beijing route. However, in September 2007, AA was granted permission to start a Chicago-Beijing route to be included in a new set of China routes in 2009.
American Airlines announced on April 25, 2007 that they will be the launch customer to fit their 767-200/300 fleet with blended winglets. The company installing and designing them is APB (Aviation Partners Boeing). All of these upgrades are expected to be completed by mid 2010 and begin in January 2008.
American Airlines was one of three carriers (Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines being the other two) to sign an exclusive agreement with Boeing in the late 1990s. When Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas, the European Union forced Boeing to void the contracts. The carriers are widely believed to still have a gentlemen's agreement with Boeing.
In August 2007 the airline announced the intention of offering Wi-fi internet services on it Boeing 767-200ER fleet on flights across the United States next year. On August 20th 2008 American Airlines became the first airline to offer full inflight internet service.
|Airbus A300-600R||28||267 (16/251)||Domestic/Latin American short-medium haul||Largest passenger operator of the Airbus A300. 6 have been grounded; Exit From Service: 2008-2009|
|Boeing 737-800||77 |
|142 (16/126) |
|North American short-medium haul |
Most fly out of MIA, DFW, and LAX
|Deliveries: 36 in 2009, 40 in 2010, 11 in 2013|
|Boeing 757-200||124||188 (22/166)|
|Short-long haul||Being fitted with winglets |
To be fitted with new interiors
18 to be modified to an international version
|Boeing 767-200ER||16||165 (9/30/126) |
|Medium-long haul|| To be fitted with new interiors |
Aircell internet access available*
One fitted with the Northrop Grumman Guardian
|Boeing 767-300ER||58||219 (30/189) |
|Long haul||To be fitted with winglets |
Fitted with New Business Class
|Boeing 777-200ER||48 |
|245 (16/35/194) |
|Ultra long haul||Fitted with Flagship Suites |
Being fitted with New Business Class
To be fitted with AVOD in First/Business Class
To be fitted with NVOD in Economy class
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||206||136 (16/120) |
|Short-medium haul||Largest operator of the MD-82|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||80||136 (16/120) |
|McDonnell Douglas DC-10||2000|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11||2002|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-90||2001|
AAdvantage is the frequent flyer program of American Airlines. Launched May 1, 1981, it was the first such loyalty program in the world, and remains the largest with more than 50 million members as of 2005.
Miles accumulated in the program allow members to redeem tickets, upgrade service class, or obtain free or discounted car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise, or other products and services through partners. The most active members, based on the amount and price of travel booked, are designated AAdvantage Gold, AAdvantage Platinum, and AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite members, with privileges such as separate check-in, priority upgrade and standby processing, or free upgrades. They also receive similar privileges from AA's partner airlines, particularly those in Oneworld.
Less than a week later, rival United Airlines launched its Mileage Plus program; other airlines followed in the ensuing months and years. The rapid appearance of competition changed the nature of the program, and as airlines began to compete on the features of their frequent flyer programs, AAdvantage liberalized its rules, established partnerships with hotel and rental car agencies, and offered promotions such as extra free beverages. In 1982 AAdvantage also became the first program to cooperate with an international carrier; members could accrue and redeem miles on British Airways flights to Europe.
In 2005 American Airlines joined other major US carriers in introducing an online shopping portal allowing shoppers to earn AAdvantage miles when shopping online.
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