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"The deepest principle in human nature," said philosopher William James, "is the craving to be appreciated." You may have noticed that I always end my column by letting you know how much my American Airlines colleagues and I appreciate your business. It seems appropriate in these challenging economic times to up the ante this month by moving my heartfelt thank-you to the top of the column. I know I speak for everyone at American when I say we appreciate the fact that by flying with us, you are enabling us to do the work we enjoy, support our families, and lead the lives we have chosen. Rest assured that your support will never be taken for granted.

In the spirit of appreciation, I would also like to point out that by flying today, you are making an important contribution to the dynamism of our economy -- something everybody appreciates! Over the past few decades, commercial aviation has grown into one of the most powerful economic catalysts on the planet, partly because it is a large industry that employs a lot of people and largely because of the multiplier effect of air travel.

I would wager that almost nobody reading this column is flying today just to fly. You are in the midst of a vacation, a business trip, or some other kind of journey, the importance -- and economic impact -- of which transcends simply flying from one city to another. Thus, the airline industry contributes to our economic vitality in a unique way. Consider that in 2008, nearly three-quarters of a billion passengers crisscrossed U.S. airspace. Imagine the economic activity all that flying made possible. In the words of Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Yergin, "Every day, the airline industry propels the economic takeoff of our nation. It is the great enabler, knitting together all corners of the country, facilitating the movement of people and goods that is the backbone of economic growth."

Air travel has been called both the glue holding the economy together and an essential lubricant of free trade. I am not sure how anything can be both a glue and a lubricant, but no matter which metaphor you prefer, there’s no denying that our industry is one of the economy’s most powerful catalysts. Commercial aviation helps drive more than a trillion dollars annually in U.S. economic activity, and it is ultimately responsible for more than 10 million jobs. In fact, every aviation job generates three jobs elsewhere in the economy. Of course, from an American Airlines perspective, our economic presence is felt most in the communities we serve and which our employees call home. For example, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone (home to our headquarters and our largest hub), we directly employ more than 20,000 people, support an estimated 164,000 jobs, and contribute well over $20 billion to the local economy each year, all while connecting the community with nonstop service to dozens of places in the United States and around the world. Our economic impact is also profound in Miami, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and the many other cities where we have large airport operations, maintenance bases, or reservations centers.

While we might like to claim credit for the catalytic role we play in the economy, the reality is that we are able to contribute as we do only because you have made air travel a part of your life and have selected American Airlines to help you live the life you have chosen. That’s quite an honor, and I want to express one more time how much we appreciate it -- and how hard we will be working, today and for many years to come, to earn your continued support.

Have a great trip.

Signatureof Gerard Arpey
Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines