I would like to start this month’s column by wishing España mis felicitaciones
for their victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. While I was, of course, rooting for my home country, the United States, I was nonetheless happy to see so many of the nations in the American Airlines network — from Asia to North and South America to Europe — perform well in this year’s tournament. In addition to Spain, I would also like to congratulate our friends, colleagues and customers in Uruguay, a country whose capital, Montevideo, AA has served for many years. Uruguay’s fútbol (soccer to those of us in the U.S.) team made it all the way to the semifi nals, an impressive feat for a country with fewer people than in the city of Los Angeles.
It seems almost cruel that we have to wait four years for another World Cup. But at AA, we are particularly excited about the fact that the 2014 tournament will be held in Brazil, since we fly to several of the 12 cities where matches will be played. Even casual observers of the sport know that Brazil is a futebol powerhouse. And even casual observers of business know that in recent years, that country has become an economic powerhouse as well. Powered by its industrial and agricultural centers, Brazil’s economic growth — expected to exceed 7 percent this year — has lifted millions of its citizens out of poverty over the past two decades. And at AA, we are certainly proud to have participated in Brazil’s transformation. To illustrate how far we have come: We launched our fi rst Brazil service in 1990, with one flight a day from Miami to Rio, continuing on to Sao Paulo. By November of this year, we plan to operate 75 weekly fl ights to and from Brazil.
Brazil is hardly the only Latin American country whose economy is performing well. Economic growth in the region is likely to outpace that in both the U.S. and Europe this year. Of course, in our globalized economy, the economic power of every country stems, in part, from its connectivity to the rest of the world, and we have been connecting Latin America to the world, and vice versa, for more than two decades. In fact, 2010 has been a year of celebration for many of our Central and South American stations, as we mark the 20th anniversary of services we launched in 1990. That year, from a standing start, we launched service to 18 cities in 12 Latin American countries. The subsequent years have brought plenty of ups and downs to both our industry and to Latin America, to put it mildly. But our commitment to the region has never wavered. In fact, this year alone we have increased AA service to Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Our confi dence in Latin America’s future stems largely from the faith we have in our team. As you know, there is a lot more to serving a region well than simply offering lots of fl ights to lots of places. Our success in Latin America is, fi rst and foremost, a tribute to our people there, nearly all of whom are nationals of the countries in which they work. They are our ambassadors — developing the ties we need to the local communities, governments and business leaders — as well as our market experts. I want to take this opportunity to salute the members of our Hispanic/Latin Employee Resource Group for helping ensure that the insights of every member of our team are brought to bear for our customers.
While it is frustrating to have to wait four years for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, I am fortunate to be able to marvel at my favorite team — the AA team — performing on a global stage, with dedication, passion and skill 365 days a year. I know I speak for every one of our players when I say thank you, gracias and obrigado for flying with us today.
Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO