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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Upward and Onward!

Recently, American Airlines Chairman and CEO, Tom Horton was spotted looking through binoculars from his corner office overlooking the DFW airport.

It seems, while hosting some front line employees there, he was asked a question regarding the future of American.  Mr. Horton - reminiscent of a proud father - encouraged them to have a look through the binoculars at American's new Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft.  Stating:  "Take a look - there is the future of the "new" American."

It's a future that includes hundreds of new, modern aircraft, with some of the strongest hubs in the industry.  All flying to and from the major business and population centers of the world.  New York, London, Tokyo, Miami, Dallas - Fort Worth just to name a few.  The shiny "silver birds" of American blanket the skies over the Americas and beyond.

With the advent of the recently announced merger with USAirways American will continue to dominate the Latin America market.   AA's presence at New York's LaGuardia and Washington D.C.'s Reagan will be greatly enhanced.  The new 787s will arrive in just over a year and afford us even greater connectivity opportunities from far off lands through DFW and other hubs.   The addition of hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix will afford many medium sized and smaller communities access to the American Airlines system.  As the nation's largest airline, AA should have the presence to deliver on all the promises made to the patrons, employees and owners of the company. And overall the new American will provide customers with a fourth competitive domestic carrier and one that is positioned to compete against the world's finest, while creating more competitive balance among the three aviation alliances.

However, it's going to take the efforts and focus of everyone on the new AA team to bring these "synergies" to fruition.  All parties involved need to abandon any "not invented here" bias.  Acknowledging that while the soon to be CEO Doug Parker has committed to the new company being decidedly "American," we original AAers must be mindful of the rich history USAirways brings to our company.  By keeping an open mind I am sure we all have a few things to learn from our new colleagues.

Lets not ignore the elephant in the room either.  Seniority integrations in the airline industry are renowned for their inherent difficulties.  Truth is, the history of the American Airlines, US Airways integration is ours to write.  It's time to put aside the acrimonious relations and divisive positions of the past.  No longer are we "natives", TWA, "east" or "west".  We will all be American Airlines employees.  The unionized work groups have each acknowledged, endorsed and embraced the integration process as agreed and as stipulated by McCaskill-Bond.  While I would be disingenuous to not admit to my own personal concern for every AA and USAirways employee (myself included) I am prepared to accept whatever outcome the inevitable seniority integration arbitration brings.

The management of AA (new and old alike) are committed to employing a thoughtful and methodical process toward integration of the two airlines.  Utilizing the latest in technology we will hopefully avoid the pitfalls being experienced by United and others in botched mergers.

With each new day we will no doubt face a new challenge.  But that is part of the allure of the airline business.  While there is no doubt there will be a few frustrations along the way we must stay focused on the good of the collective whole.  We owe it to our fellow employees (all of them), our shareholders, and most importantly, our customers.

 I think this bears repeating:  The history of American is still ours to write!

Upward and Onward....

Somewhere Over the Americas,

CA Howie