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The genius of free market competition is that when the playing field is level, the customer gets to decide who wins and who loses. Unfortunately, in one of the biggest and most important aviation markets in the world — between North America and Europe — American Airlines and our oneworld partners have had to compete, in effect, with one hand tied behind our back. Our two rival alliances, Star and SkyTeam, have enjoyed broad antitrust immunity across the Atlantic while we have not.

The tilted playing field has been harmful to us and to consumers. However, I am pleased to report that authorities in the United States and in Europe have approved our application for antitrust immunity with our oneworld partners British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Royal Jordanian, as well as the joint business we have launched with BA and Iberia to collaboratively operate and market our trans-Atlantic flights. While AA, BA and Iberia will continue to operate as separate carriers, our services will be highly integrated.

By synchronizing our schedules and networks next year, the three airlines will offer a more convenient schedule of flights and far more travel choices. The airlines have announced four new routes that will start from April 2011 as an early benefit of the new joint business, including routes between New York JFK and Budapest (on American); Chicago O’Hare and Helsinki (American); London Heathrow and San Diego (BA); and between Madrid and Los Angeles (Iberia). Our combined network will encompass more than 5,000 daily flights to over 400 destinations in 105 countries. We will also offer trans-Atlantic fares that let you travel with greater flexibility — for example, flying out on American and returning on BA or Iberia — as well as offer to corporations and other large buyers coordinated pricing and programs for trans-Atlantic travel on the three airlines.

If you’re an AAdvantage member — and if you’re not, what are you waiting for? — our tighter partnership with BA and Iberia is great news, because you can now earn and redeem miles on virtually every flight on all three carriers, and all the miles earned count toward AAdvantage elite status.

A broader network, more convenient schedules, more flexible fares and enhanced opportunities to earn and redeem AAdvantage miles — those are important benefits, to be sure. But it’s important to note that by working together, we will also enhance the travel experience through the integration of customer service online, through reservations and at the airport. Among other things, that’s going to produce easier and faster connections at Chicago O’Hare, London Heathrow, New York JFK and in Miami, Madrid and at our other international hubs.

We were very fortunate as we went through the approval process in the U.S. and in Europe to have the support of many people and groups. These include two U.S. unions: the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union; Unite, one of Europe’s largest unions; more than 1,500 organizations and companies of all kinds; hundreds of local, state and federal officials from across the U.S.; and public officials in Britain, Spain and elsewhere in Europe. To all who wrote letters, made phone calls and supported us in other ways, we say thank you.

Government approvals mean that oneworld can now compete, fairly and squarely, with the other global alliances across the Atlantic. But of course, we know that our fate rests not with regulators but with you. To turn promise into reality, we have to execute, and we have a lot of very talented people from all of the oneworld carriers who are thinking hard and working together to ensure that in the years to come, we deliver a level of global connectivity, convenience, service and value that no airline — or combination of airlines — can match.

The stage has been set; now it’s up to us. If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.aa.com/nowmore. Have a great trip!

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Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines