American Airlines: Difference between revisions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Line 118: Line 118:
* [[American Airlines Flight 965]], a [[Boeing 757]], crashed on approach to [[Santiago de Cali|Cali]], [[Colombia]], on [[December 20]], [[1995]].
* [[American Airlines Flight 965]], a [[Boeing 757]], crashed on approach to [[Santiago de Cali|Cali]], [[Colombia]], on [[December 20]], [[1995]].
* [[American Airlines Flight 1420]], a [[McDonnell Douglas MD-82]], crashed on landing to [[Little Rock, AR]] on [[June 1]], [[1999]].
* [[American Airlines Flight 1420]], a [[McDonnell Douglas MD-82]], crashed on landing to [[Little Rock, AR]] on [[June 1]], [[1999]].
* Two American Airlines [[aircraft]] were [[hijack]]ed and crashed during the [[September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack]]: [[American Airlines flight 77|Flight 77]] (a [[Boeing 757]]) and [[American Airlines Flight 11|Flight 11]] (a [[Boeing 767]]).
* Two American Airlines [[aircraft]] were [[hijack]]ed and crashed during the [[September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack]]: [[American Airlines flight 77|Flight 77]] (a [[Boeing 757]]) and [[American Airlines Flight 11|Flight 11]] (a [[Boeing 767]]). Although these flights were daily departures before and a month after September 11, 2001. Neither flight 11 nor 77 were scheduled on September 11, 2001. The records kept by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics ( do not list either flight that day.
* [[American Airlines Flight 587]], an [[Airbus A300]] crashed in [[New York City]] on [[November 12]], [[2001]].
* [[American Airlines Flight 587]], an [[Airbus A300]] crashed in [[New York City]] on [[November 12]], [[2001]].
* American almost lost [[American Airlines Flight 63|Flight 63]] to "shoe bomber" [[Richard Reid (terrorist)|Richard Reid]] on [[December 22]] of the same year, but the plot was foiled. The flight was en route from [[Charles De Gaulle International Airport|Paris Charles De Gaulle]] to [[Miami International Airport|Miami]], and was diverted to Boston's [[Logan International Airport|Logan Airport]].
* American almost lost [[American Airlines Flight 63|Flight 63]] to "shoe bomber" [[Richard Reid (terrorist)|Richard Reid]] on [[December 22]] of the same year, but the plot was foiled. The flight was en route from [[Charles De Gaulle International Airport|Paris Charles De Gaulle]] to [[Miami International Airport|Miami]], and was diverted to Boston's [[Logan International Airport|Logan Airport]].

Revision as of 19:30, 25 April 2006

American Airlines
File:AA logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
AA AAL American
Founded1930 (as American Airways)
HubsDallas-Fort Worth Int'l Airport
O'Hare International Airport
Miami International Airport
Lambert Saint Louis Int'l Airport
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
Focus citiesJohn F. Kennedy Int'l Airport
La Guardia Airport
Los Angeles Int'l Airport
Logan Int'l Airport
Frequent-flyer programAAdvantage
Fleet size707
Parent companyAMR Corporation
HeadquartersFort Worth, Texas
Key peopleGerard Arpey (CEO)
James Beer (CFO)
American Airlines and American Eagle aircraft at San Juan

American Airlines is the largest airline in the world in terms of total passengers transported, and the second-largest airline in the world (behind Air France-KLM) in terms of total operating revenues. A 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, Western Europe, Japan and India. The chairman and CEO of AA is Gerard Arpey. In 2005 the airline netted over 98 million RPMs.

As of February 2006, American serves 171 cities with a fleet of 707 aircraft. American carries more passengers between the US and Latin America (12.1 million in 2004) than any other airline, and is also strong in the transcontinental market.

American has five hubs: Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, Miami, St. Louis, and San Juan. Dallas/Fort Worth is the airline's largest hub, with AA operating over 84 percent of flights at the airport and traveling to more destinations than from any of its other hubs. Los Angeles International Airport and New York City-JFK serve as a focus cities and international gateways. American operates maintenance bases at Tulsa, Kansas City, and Fort Worth Alliance.

American Eagle Airlines is an airline based in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. It is a regional airline partner of American Airlines (both are wholly owned by AMR Corporation).

American is a founding member of the oneworld airline alliance.



American Airlines developed from a conglomeration of about 82 small airlines through a series of corporate acquisitions and reorganizations: initially, the name American Airways was used as a common brand by a number of independent air carriers. These included Southern Air Transport in Texas, Southern Air Fast Express (SAFE) in the western US, Universal Aviation in the Midwest (which operated a transcontinental air/rail route in 1929), and Colonial Air Transport in the Northeast.

On January 25, 1930, American Airways was incorporated as a single company, with routes from Boston, New York and Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, and a transcontinental route from Dallas to Los Angeles. The airline operated its routes with all-metal Fokker Trimotors and Ford Trimotors. In 1934 American began flying Curtiss Condor biplanes fitted with sleeping berths.

American Airlines before World War II

In 1934, American Airways Company, in financial straits, was acquired by E.L. Cord, who renamed the company "American Airlines". Cord hired Texas businessman C.R. (Cyrus Rowlett) Smith to run the company. Early in its history, the company was headquartered at Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois. American's innovations during this period included the introduction of flight attendants.

American played a major role in the development of the Douglas DC-3, dubbed "Flagship" in the American fleet

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 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, 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.

Postwar developments

After World War II, American launched an international subsidiary, American Overseas Airways to serve Europe; however, AOA was sold to rival Pan Am in 1948. AA launched another subsidiary around the same time, American Airlines de Mexico S.A., to operate flights to Mexico, and built several airports in northern Mexico to serve as diversion points for aircraft bound for Mexico City.

American Airlines introduced the first transcontinental jet service on 25 January 1959. With the introduction of 707 "Astrojet" service in the 1960s, 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. The company also launched the first electronic booking system, named Sabre, together with IBM.

During the 1970s, American acquired its first Boeing 747s; depressed passenger numbers at the time led American to fit many of its 747s with Wurlitzer pianos in the main cabin. Following the Transpacific Route Case, AA began 747 flights to Australia and New Zealand, although it traded these routes to Pan Am in 1975 in exchange for routes to the Caribbean. The 747s were soon moved to cargo service, and replaced in passenger service with McDonnell Douglas DC-10s.

Following a financial slump in the 1970s under the leadership of former general counsel George Spater, American hired seasoned manager Albert Casey. Casey decided to move American's corporate headquarters from New York City to Fort Worth, Texas in 1979. American opened a new corporate campus on the site of the closed Greater Southwest International Airport, just south of the new Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

On C.R. Smith's advice, American also hired a young finance executive, Robert Crandall, who had previously worked for Bloomingdale's and TWA. Crandall introduced, among other innovations, the world's first frequent flyer miles (AAdvantage) and corporate travel card (AAirpass). After discovering several thousand unused CRT terminals in a Tulsa hangar, Crandall ordered them refurbished and provided to travel agents, creating the first airline-owned agent-accessible computer reservations system. Crandall was named American's President in 1980, and succeeded Albert Casey as CEO and Chairman in 1985.

Expansion in 1980s and 1990s

In the 1990s, American switched to an all-twinjet fleet. Boeing 767 aircraft replaced older DC-10s on many transatlantic routes

American changed its routing to a hub-and-spoke system starting in 1981, opening its first hubs at DFW and Chicago O'Hare. American began flights to Europe and Japan from these hubs in the mid-1980s.

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 Air California. 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.

Lower fuel prices in the era and a favorable management climate at the time led to higher than average airline industry profits that were not necessarily shared by non-stockholding employees. The industry's expansion was not lost on the American Airline's existing employees who on February 17, 1997 struck for higher wages. President Bill Clinton invoked the Taft-Hartley Amendment to the Wagner Act citing economic impact to the United States a few minutes later quashing the strike.[1] Pilots settled for substantially lower wage increases than their demands as a result.

The three new hubs were all abandoned in the 1990s: San Jose was sold to Reno Air, and RDU 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.

Miami also became a hub after American bought Central and South American routes from Eastern Airlines in 1990. 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.

TWA merger, 9/11, and aftermath

American Airlines Boeing 777-200ER landing

Crandall left the company in 1998 and was replaced by Donald J. Carty, who negotiated the purchase of Trans World Airlines and its hub in St. Louis in April 2001.

The merger of the different labor unions was a contentious issue. The TWA pilots belonged to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the American Airlines pilots belonged to the Allied Pilots Association (APA). The pilots of the APA took a position that the TWA pilots could not get something for nothing. Namely, job security and retirement benefits without giving up something -- seniority. The ALPA pilots felt they deserved a more fair distribution within the APA seniority list.

As a result, 60 percent of all former TWA pilots were moved to the bottom of the seniority list at American Airlines. For example, the senior-most former TWA captain, hired in 1963 was integrated at the same seniority level as a 1985-hire American captain. To keep some relative seniority, the TWA pilots were given "super-seniority" and a specified ratio of captain's jobs (relative to other domiciles) if they stayed within the St. Louis pilot domicile. If they decided to leave the St. Louis pilot domicile, they would have to compete for jobs on the basis of their integrated seniority number. The result was that most former TWA pilots stayed in the St. Louis domicile and roughly maintained their same relative seniority; albeit stuck within the St. Louis domicile. A few former TWA pilots flew in the co-pilot seat next to AA pilots with significantly less seniority and experience when they decided to transfer to one of the other American Airlines pilot domiciles.

Of the appoximately 2300 TWA pilots who were integrated, approximately 400 were slated for mandatory retirement before the integration actually took place.

As of July 2, 2003, 100% of all former TWA flight attendants were furloughed by American Airlines (approximately 4,200 employees). This was due to the American Airlines flight attendant union putting all the former 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 (which claimed two of AA's aircraft), American began losing money. Carty negotiated new wage and benefit agreements with the airline's labor unions, but was forced to resign after union leaders discovered that Carty was planning to award handsome executive compensation packages at the same time. St. Louis' hub was also downsized afterwards.

File:AA bird logo.svg
Logo as pictured on their tail fin and when referring to the website

In Carty's wake, American has undergone additional cost-cutting measures, including rolling back its "More Room in Coach" program (which eliminated several seats on certain aircraft types), 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, western Japan, and India. American Airlines is also expanding to China in 2006.

On July 20, 2005, for the first time in 17 quarters, American announced a quarterly profit; the airline earned $58 million in Q2 2005. American is reliant upon its dominant position at Dallas/Fort Worth for its continuing financial solvency, and is lobbying for the preservation of the Wright Amendment, which regulates Southwest Airlines' operations at Love Field in Dallas.

Codesharing agreements

American currently has codesharing agreements with Aer Lingus, Air Pacific, Air Sahara, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Deutsche Bahn (AiRail Service), EVA Air, Finnair, Grupo TACA (to be discontinued soon), Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Mexicana, Qantas Airways, SN Brussels Airlines, SNCF, Swiss International Air Lines (to be discontinued soon), TAM Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. AmericanConnection, which feeds American's hub at Lambert Saint Louis International Airport, is also a codesharing operation with three regional carriers.

AA 777-200ER landing at London Heathrow Airport.


New services/Future destinations

American Airlines has begun to expand its network internationally, especially Asia. Major hubs such as Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Chicago O'Hare International Airport are constantly introduced to new destinations.

On November 1, 2005, American Airlines re-introduced a non-stop flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Osaka Kansai, Japan. This flight was initially discontinued after the September 11 terroist attacks.

On November 15 2005, American Airlines operated its first nonstop flight to India from United States. Service was flown from Chicago (O'Hare International Airport) to Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport) becoming the second US carrier (after Continental) to serve India nonstop. It was their longest nonstop flight at the time of introduction. [2]

Nonstop services from Chicago O'Hare to Shanghai (Shanghai Pudong International Airport), China were launched on April 2, 2006 becoming the third US carrier (after Continental and United) to serve Mainland China nonstop and the second US carrier (after United) to serve Shanghai nonstop.

On December 13, 2005, American announced that it will begin services at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, in competition with Southwest Airlines. American will offer mainline flights from Love to St. Louis and Kansas City, as well as commuter flights to Austin and San Antonio, beginning in March 2006.

Service to Pittsburgh International Airport was added from LaGuardia Airport on April 3, 2006.

Incidents and accidents


American operates a relatively young fleet, with an average age of 13.3 years [3]. Almost half of its fleet is comprised of McDonnell Douglas MD-82 and MD-83 series twinjets, referred to by AA as "Super 80," denoting the type's original name, "DC-9 Super 80." Much of the Super 80 fleet dates back to the early 1980s, although they own some newer examples acquired from TWA. Regardless of age, most of AA's aircraft have been refitted with new interiors in the last few years, with the exception of many Boeing 757s. AA has also introduced new aircraft to its fleet: the newest are the Boeing 777-200ERs, which replaced MD-11s on key transoceanic routes in the late 1990s such as Tokyo Narita, and 737-800s, which replaced 727s and the BAC-111s on some domestic and Caribbean routes.

American has discontinued three-class service on most aircraft, but continues to offer business class on 777 and 767-200 aircraft. First class passengers on 777 routes to London and Frankfurt enjoy the "American Flagship Suite," a first class seat that can swivel inwards toward a personal work area and also recline 90 degrees to become a bed. 767-200 flights between JFK, SFO, and LAX offer three-class "American Flagship Service" which replicates the passenger service offered on long international flights.

An American Airbus A300 inbound to JFK.

On all American aircraft (except ex-TWA 757s), passengers in all cabins have a cigarette port DC power port at select seats. All classes of service on the 777-223ER have personal video screens, although they lack Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD) systems. These personal video screens have an AAmazing feature, GateConnect which allows passengers to view maps of the destination airports (gates, security checkpoints, baggage claims, etc) and find out information on connecting flights from that same airport such as gate, aircraft, etc.

Most recently, American has taken the unique step of redesigning its schedules so that each hub city receives certain aircraft types more often than others, which is intended to simplify maintenance and last-minute fleet substitutions. Currently, Chicago, DFW and St. Louis get most Boeing MD-80(S80), 757-2Q8, and 757-231 service, Miami gets most 757-223 and 737 service, and JFK gets most A300 and 767-200 service. 777-223ER's and 767-323ER's are usually reserved for high density domestic markets and international flights.

American Airlines was one of three carriers (Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines being the other two) to sign an exclusivity agreement with Boeing in the late 1990s. When Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas, the European Union forced Boeing to void the contracts. However, both parties have been adhering to and intend to adhere to the terms under a gentlemen's agreement.

Type Fleet Seats, layout Routes
Boeing 777-223ER 46 236 (16/35/194)
238 (18/42/163)
London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Osaka, Delhi, Shanghai, Brazil, Argentina, DFW-MIA, DFW-ORD, DFW-LAX
Airbus A300-600R 34 267 (16/251) High-density, medium-range trunk routes to the Caribbean and along the East Coast
Boeing 767-323ER 58 213 (30/183) Medium-haul routes to Europe, Hawaii, and Latin America, premium transcontinental, some hub-to-hub ferrying flights
Boeing 767-223ER 16 158 (9/30/119) Service from JFK to Bermuda, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco

(Non -ER aircraft currently being phased out of service.)

Boeing 757-2Q8,757-231,757-223 143 188 (22/166)
180 (22/158)
Domestic, Caribbean, and Latin American flights; service from Boston to Manchester and Shannon
Boeing 737-823 77 142 (16/126) Domestic, Caribbean, and Latin American flights
Boeing MD-82 (S80) 266 129 (16/115) Domestic flights, predominantly east-west flights through DFW, Chicago and St. Louis
Boeing MD-83 (S80) 95 131 (16/115) Domestic flights, predominantly east-west flights through DFW, Chicago and St. Louis

In March 2006, the average age of American Airlines fleet is 13.3 years

American Airlines has operated a wide variety of aircraft types, including:

(Air Cal) Aircraft obtained during 1986 AirCal acquisition.
(Reno Air) Aircraft obtained during 1999 Reno Air acquisition.
(TWA Airlines LLC) Aircraft obtained during 2001 Trans World Airlines acquisition.


American's early liveries varied widely, but a common livery was adopted in the 1930s that featured a large eagle painted on the fuselage of each aircraft. The eagle became a widely-recognized symbol of the company and inspired the name of American Eagle Airlines. Propeller aircraft featured an international orange lightning bolt running down the length of the fuselage, which was replaced by a simpler orange stripe with the introduction of jets.

In the late 1960s, American commissioned an industrial designer to develop a new livery. The original design called for a red, white, and blue stripe on the fuselage, and a simple "AA" logo, without an eagle, on the tail. However, American's employees revolted when the livery was made public, and launched a "Save the Eagle" campaign similar to the "Save the Flying Red Horse" campaign at Mobil. Eventually, the designer caved in and created a highly stylized eagle, dubbed "the bug," which remains the company's logo to this day. In 1999, American painted a new Boeing 757 in its 1959 international orange livery.

American is the only major U.S. airline that leaves the majority of its aircraft surfaces unpainted. Originally, this was because C. R. Smith hated painted aircraft, and refused to use any liveries that involved painting the entire plane. Crandall later justified the distinctive natural metal finish by noting that less paint reduced the aircraft's weight, thus saving on fuel costs. Eastern Airlines and USAir have also maintained unpainted airplanes in the past.



  • John M. Capozzi, A Spirit of Greatness (JMC, 2001), ISBN 0965641031
  • Don Bedwell, Silverbird: The American Airlines Story (Airways, 1999), ISBN 0965399362
  • Al Casey, Casey's Law (Arcade, 1997), ISBN 1559703075
  • Simon Forty, ABC American Airlines (Ian Allan, 1997), ISBN 1882663217
  • Dan Reed, The American Eagle: The Ascent of Bob Crandall and American Airlines (St. Martin's, 1993), ISBN 0312086962
  • Robert J. Serling, Eagle (St. Martin's, 1985), ISBN 0312224532
  • International Directory of Company Histories, St. James Press.

External links