Given the heavy media coverage our industry receives, I’m guessing most of you have read or heard about the dramatic changes transforming the airline business. As a reader of American Way magazine, one relatively modest change you may have noticed is the unfamiliar face and signature on Vantage Point. Last month, I became the newest member of the American Way editorial team when I took the reins as Chief Executive Officer of American Airlines.
I joined American Airlines more than twenty years ago. While I realize that it’s rare these days for an executive to spend his entire career with one company, I consider myself fortunate to have found, early on, an industry and a company that I truly love. And I am incredibly proud, and honored, to lead what I consider the best team in the business.
While constant challenge has always been, for me, part of the appeal of working for American, the past two years have brought a barrage of challenges the likes of which have never been seen in our industry, or perhaps any industry. Through it all, the extraordinary people of our airline have conducted themselves with grace, dignity, guts, and determination. Rather than letting the high drama of the industry distract them, the men and women of American have focused harder than ever on taking care of you, our customers. This point is underscored by the fact that in March — the most recent month we have data for — American Airlines ranked #1 among major U.S. network airlines in on-time arrival performance.
As we continue to operate a great airline, every single American employee is also sacrificing to help ensure the future of our company. Our people understand that we’re facing an economic environment that is treacherous to say the least. So together, we’re working hard to make American a leaner, more streamlined, more cost-efficient competitor.
I must point out, however, that from a customer perspective, a lot of what you see and experience on a daily basis won’t change a bit. Most importantly — if you remember just one thing from my first communication with you, please remember this — safety and customer service are, and always will be, the paramount focus of American Airlines.
As we transform our company to meet the challenges confronting us, we’ll also be building on our many strengths. These include our vast global network; a large, modern fleet of aircraft; a premier product; a great regional partner in American Eagle; AAdvantage, the world’s most powerful loyalty program; and, of course, a battle-tested team committed to American’s success and to earning your business time and again.
I want to personally thank you for reading my inaugural Vantage Point column. I know I speak for all of us when I say we look forward to welcoming you aboard American Airlines someday soon.
GERARD J. ARPEY
President & CEO