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Air travel makes amazing things possible. One moment you’re gazing up at New York’s iconic Empire State Building, and the next thing you know, you’re marveling at La Sagrada Família, the magnificent cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona’s favorite son. That appealing scenario will be easy to imagine starting this month, when American Airlines launches nonstop service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Barcelona, Spain.


Because Barcelona is both a fascinating city and a new destination for American, I would like to use this month’s column to tell you a little bit about it. Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain and the capital of Catalonia, one of the 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain. Situated on the Mediterranean , it has a thriving economy responsible for more than 20 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product.


Barcelona’s history and culture date back to a Roman colony that was founded on its soil in the second century BC . Many people don’t realize that the native language of Catalonia is Catalan, rather than Castilian Spanish. Catalan is actually one of the most widely spoken languages in Europe, though you’ll hear both Catalan and Castilian Spanish in Barcelona.


While Barcelona is a vibrant, modern metropolis, it is also steeped in tradition and history. Must-see attractions include La Rambla, the lively, tree-lined promenade that cuts through the heart of the Ciutat Vella, or Old City, where you can shop, eat, and mix with a diverse (and often eccentric) array of street musicians and performers. A few blocks away, the Barri Gòtic neighborhood is a maze of dark streets and Gothic buildings, including the impressive Catedral de Barcelona. Much of what you see in Barri Gòtic dates back to the Middle Ages. One of Europe’s important art destinations, Barcelona is home to the Museu Picasso, which includes works from Pablo Picasso’s formative years, some of which were spent in Barcelona.


Barcelona’s harbor front is the busiest leisure port on the Mediterranean, and the city has seven beaches covering nearly three miles of coastline. The windy climate makes it an ideal spot for surfing — and if you’re more of a winter-sports enthusiast, many of Spain’s northern ski resorts, those in the Catalan Pyrenees, are just a short drive away.


Like New York, Barcelona is a fast-paced city with a vibrant nightlife. There is more than enough to keep a visitor occupied and entertained around the clock. Of course, some people like an occasional break from the hustle and bustle, and for them, the mountain of Montjuïc, which overlooks the city, offers amazing views and acres of tranquil parks to explore.


We’re excited about the opportunity to link New York and Barcelona, two of the world’s great cities. If you’ve never been to Barcelona, I hope you will have the opportunity to discover it for yourself in the near future. When you’re ready, we’ll be waiting for you.


In the meantime, wherever you’re going today, we are grateful that you have chosen to fly with us, and we’ll be working hard to make sure your trip is a great one. Thanks for flying American Airlines.

Signature of Gerard Arpey


Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines