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“No city is as intensely American as New York City,” observed the English novelist Anthony Trollope. While he made that statement many years ago, to me it still rings true, as many of the adjectives I would use to describe New York — vibrant, ambitious, inclusive, resilient — could be applied to our country and, if I may be so bold, to American Airlines as well.
We have been serving New York City for more than 80 years. In fact, one of the biggest milestones in aviation history took place in 1959, when AA introduced the country’s first-ever coast-to-coast jet service between what was then Idlewild Airport (you know it today as JFK) and Los Angeles. The airplane used on the inaugural flight — a 112-seat Boeing 707 — flew the westbound trip in five and a half hours, cutting the flying time across the country by 40 percent. Flying coast to coast is routine today, but it was big news in 1959 — so much so that Time magazine put C.R. Smith, our CEO at the time, on its cover.
While we are proud of our long and storied history in New York, our focus is on the future. As one of the world’s foremost business and leisure destinations and a principal gateway between the United States and the rest of the world, New York plays a very strategic role in our global network. Today we carry more than a million people a month to and from the New York area. Along with our regional airline, American Eagle, we offer nonstop service to more than 60 destinations, with well over 200 combined daily departures from JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and White Plains/Westchester County airports. Our New York customers today enjoy unprecedented access to the country’s top business markets. The reach of our New York operations extends well beyond the United States, of course. We currently offer service from New York to 28 international destinations, including London, Paris, Rome, Zurich, Brussels, Tokyo and Buenos Aires.
We are proud of all we have accomplished in New York, but if our 80-plus years in the Big Apple has taught us anything, it is that we can never rest on our laurels. So we have been working hard, on multiple fronts, to position our airline to compete and win in New York for many years to come. I am sure many of you have already visited our $1.3 billion, state-of-the-art terminal at JFK. Opened in 2007, this 1.5 million-square-foot facility was the biggest facilities project in American Airlines history, and it is world-class in every respect. More recently, we’ve committed an additional $30 million to further enhance our facilities at JFK and LaGuardia. At JFK, we recently completed a major expansion of our Concourse C Admirals Club. Our LaGuardia enhancements include the refurbishment of both our Admirals Club and the interior of Concourse D.
Of course, no matter how nice our facilities are, the point of air travel is to leave the airport and go where you want to go. With that in mind and to complement our own robust pattern of service, we are working closely with our partners in the oneworld global alliance — including British Airways and Iberia, with whom we have launched a joint business across the Atlantic — to give you easier access to the destinations that matter most to you. The network power of our alliances certainly merits its own column. And the fact that we recently moved oneworld’s worldwide headquarters to New York underscores our determination to play a leading role in the city’s future. To illustrate with an example of particular relevance to New Yorkers: Working with our partner British Airways, we are now able to provide a selection of 15 daily flights between New York and London, staggered in a shuttle-like arrangement, with departures as frequent as every half-hour during the evening. We are just as excited about the joint business we have launched with Japan Airlines for flying between North America and Asia, which has given our customers in New York and everywhere more choices, shorter travel times and new connection opportunities beyond our respective gateway cities.
New York is, indeed, an “intensely American” city. It’s also a great American Airlines city, home to 11,000 members of the AA team (active and retired). We’re proud of the contributions we have made to the city over the last eight decades — connecting it to the world, driving billions of dollars of economic activity and supporting a wide range of worthy artistic and philanthropic organizations — and we’re looking forward to even greater things in the years to come. Wherever you’re going today, thank you for flying with us.
Thomas W. Horton