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What do you remember about 1999? I remember the price of oil being around $20 a barrel, the Dow Jones Industrial Average breaking 10,000 points, and Lance Armstrong winning his first Tour de France. I also seem to recall wondering, with Y2K looming, if my coffeemaker and other household appliances would function properly in the new millennium.
In a more serious vein, in 1999 my colleagues and I at American Airlines were very focused on globalization and on how we could best satisfy our customers’ increasing appetite for access to markets all over the world. At that time, we had been complementing our own extensive international network with alliances with individual foreign carriers for several years. Working with alliance partners enabled us to more effectively attract customers flying between AA cities and international destinations that for one reason or another -- whether regulatory, logistical, or economic -- we were unable to serve on our own. To illustrate, if a customer’s journey took him from Omaha to Warsaw, via first Chicago, then London, we might carry him from Omaha, through Chicago, to London. At that point, our alliance partner British Airways would take over, carrying him the last leg to Warsaw.
Through bilateral alliances, we significantly expanded the power and reach of our network. But by 1999, with globalization picking up speed, we knew we had to do more. Thus, 10 years ago this month, we teamed up with British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Qantas Airways to create a multilateral alliance called oneworld. In the years since, we’ve welcomed Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malév, and Royal Jordanian into the oneworld fold. Our roster includes 10 airlines (and nearly two dozen affiliate carriers) linking nearly 700 communities worldwide.
Of course, an effective alliance requires more than dots on a map. In growing oneworld, we have focused more on the quality, rather than on just the quantity, of our member airlines. Our partners all have hard-earned reputations for service quality, and working together, we provide a world of benefits beyond what any individual carrier can offer. For the last decade, we have been perfecting the art of smoothly connecting customers from one carrier to another. In fact, we were the first global alliance to offer electronic ticketing between all of our partner airlines. That means you can travel throughout the vast oneworld network, on any combination of airlines, using e-tickets exclusively. If you belong to a member carrier’s frequent-flier program, your rewards and privileges are extended throughout the oneworld network. We also operate nearly 550 airport lounges around the world, so international premium-class and top-tier frequent fliers almost always have a place to unwind before their next flight.
oneworld has been voted the World’s Leading Airline Alliance six years running at the World Travel Awards (the travel industry’s equivalent of the Oscars), but as oneworld begins its second decade, we are certainly not resting on our laurels. For more details on all that oneworld has to offer and to learn more about our plans for the future, please turn to page 74.
The world has changed in ways few of us expected back in 1999. But our belief then in the importance of global connectivity -- and the wisdom of our decision to join with other leading airlines to build an alliance capable of smoothly transporting people from one side of the planet to the other -- has been affirmed many times over. And, lo and behold, my old coffeemaker still works!
Wherever today’s journey takes you, I want to thank you for letting American Airlines be a part of it. Have a great trip!
Gerard J. Arpey