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AS WE LOOK AHEAD to the new year, say hello to the new American: a refreshed, reinvigorated icon poised to top the airline industry once again. I’m pleased to report that we have completed the restructuring we began in late 2011 — capped by our recently completed merger with US ­Airways — to create the world’s leading airline. Two years ago, we set a course to put American back on top, and that’s exactly what the people of American have done.

It’s worth noting that even before our restructuring began, many of the building blocks for success were in place. In the summer of 2011, we placed the largest order of new commercial airplanes in history — not just our history (although at 87 years, American’s history is quite long), but all of history — a total of 460 new Boeing and Airbus jets. This is quickly transforming our fleet to be the most modern and efficient among our peers.

This was complemented by steps taken to build a more powerful global network. We refocused our network on the biggest and most important markets in the U.S. and launched new international service from these hubs to markets all over the world. We also redoubled our efforts to make oneworld the world’s premiere global airline alliance, partnering with the best airlines in the most significant markets around the world. Of particular importance are the joint ventures we forged across the Atlantic and the Pacific with British Airways, Iberia and Japan ­Airlines. And we have renewed virtually every aspect of the American­ Airlines experience while also refreshing­ our brand and updating our iconic logo and livery for the first time in more than 40 years.

While there is always more to be done, everyone here has worked hard to boldly enhance the customer experience while making American strong, competitive and profitable. And this creates great momentum for our merger with US Airways, which makes American, once again, the largest airline in the world. And, while being big is important, we won’t be satisfied until the new American is the world’s best airline.

All of this is made possible by the energy and spirit of the American team, 73,000 strong, who are standing tall and staying focused on what matters most: you, our customers. I thank them for their perseverance, and I thank you for your loyalty. And I’d like to say a special welcome and thanks to our 32,000 new colleagues from US Airways, who are just as excited as we are about serving you as part of the new American team.

And while I’ll stay on as chairman of the new American, the CEO reins pass to Doug Parker, a first-class leader and a longtime friend. Penning the CEO Letter will be one of Doug’s many new duties. So let me take this opportunity, while I have you, to say thanks for taking the time to read my musings in this space over the last two years and, most of all, for honoring us with your business. Finally, no words here could do justice to my gratitude and respect for all of my colleagues at American Airlines. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be part of an extraordinary team at an extraordinary time.

Thank you, happy New Year and happy travels! 

Signatureof Thomas Horton
Thomas W. Horton
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines