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To Connect and Preserve

Mark Twain once wrote that “broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” While I’m hardly an unbiased observer, I agree with the notion that travel not only enriches our lives but also makes the world a more peaceful, more tolerant, better place. I also believe that the more you see of our planet, the more you appreciate its wonders and the more determined you become to protect them.

In my last two columns, I described some of the major initiatives we have undertaken at American Airlines to reduce the impact of our activities on the environment. Big corporate initiatives are certainly important. But the depth of our environmental commitment is probably best illustrated by the countless smaller efforts under way throughout our airline. In more ways than I have space to describe, our people are, to borrow a phrase, thinking globally and acting locally.

For example, at our Dallas/Fort Worth hub, we’ve reduced nitrous oxide emissions by more than three tons a day, using ground-service equipment powered by electric motors rather than by internal combustion engines. In Kansas City, our maintenance team has reduced emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — a contributor to smog — by more than 80 percent by replacing high VOC-content solvents, degreasers, primers, and topcoats with water-based cleaners. Our Alliance Fort Worth maintenance base was recently recognized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for its innovative approach to conserving water and reducing hazardous waste. At Los Angeles International Airport, we installed new energy-efficient lamps in our cargo facility and in aircraft hangars, saving 260,000 kilowatt-hours annually. The ongoing recycling program at our headquarters campus recycled more than 250 tons of paper, plastic, and aluminum last year, the conservation equivalent of more than 4,000 trees, nearly 100,000 gallons of oil, 800 cubic yards of landfill space, 1.7 million gallons of water, and one million kilowatt-hours of energy. And on airplanes all over the world, our flight attendants are voluntarily collecting and recycling millions of beverage cans from passengers; funds generated by that recycling benefit the Wings Foundation, an organization that supports flight attendants in need

This is just a small sampling of our environmental initiatives. In stations large and small scattered throughout our global network, the people of American Airlines, led by our team of more than 1,000 highly trained environmental coordinators, are finding ways to reduce our environmental footprint.

It’s a big job, connecting the world while helping to protect it. But throughout our history, we have learned, time and again, that big things are possible when everybody pulls together and does their part. Helping you enjoy all the wonders our world has to offer is what American Airlines is all about. And since we’re in this business for the long haul, we’re going to keep doing our part to ensure that those wonders are available for your grandkids, their grandkids, and all the generations that follow.

Thank you for flying with us. Have a great trip!

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Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines