One-on-One with Timothy J. Ahern, Vice President – New York and International, American...

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  1. In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with American Airlines VP of New York and International, Timothy (Tim) J. Ahern.
    As the senior officer managing the competitive New York region, Tim oversees American’s Europe and Pacific operations from that gateway and travels regularly to London.
    ExpertFlyer talked to Tim about big changes at the airline, including the impending merger between American Airlines and US Airways and how the new American Airlines will reign as the world’s largest commercial air carrier.
    [​IMG]“During the next four years, the new American Airlines is planning to take delivery of 607 new aircraft, including 517 narrow-body aircraft and 90 wide-body international aircraft. Most of the planes will be equipped with advanced in-seat inflight entertainment systems, offering thousands of hours of programming, inflight Wi-Fi, and Main Cabin Extra — providing customers four to six inches of additional legroom in the Main Cabin.”
    – Timothy J. Ahern, VP – New York and International, American Airlines
    ExpertFlyer’s readers comprise a large group of American and US Airways’ customers. Once the merger is complete, American will be crowned the world’s largest airline. Can you give us your take on how this will improve services overall for the combined customer base?
    Together, we will create a premier global carrier with an expanded worldwide network, a strong financial foundation, a modern and efficient fleet, and the industry’s best team of people, who will together offer an unparalleled travel experience for our customers.
    As a combined carrier – the new American – we will have an expanded network to even better match where customers want to fly and a greater ability to invest in our fleet, modern technologies, and the products and services customers value most. This combination will enable us to further bolster our offerings for customers and allow us to provide the most connected, comfortable travel experience in the industry.
    Consolidation will result in fewer major US carriers. With fewer carriers, customers have fewer options. Do you believe air fares will be affected by this new competitive landscape?
    At this time, American and US Airways continue to operate as two separate airlines. We expect that the combined airline will provide a competitive alternative to domestic and international competitors and enhance alliance competition across the globe as it relates to fare prices.
    It’s been reported that AA and its customers will enjoy a wider range of international destinations when combined with US Airways’ routes. It has also been reported that US Airways would leave Star Alliance, which has stronger partner networks in Europe and Asia than American’s oneworld® Alliance. How will American look to expand its network in Europe and Asia?
    American Airlines and US Airways combine two complementary networks, creating easier access to the best destinations throughout the U.S. and around the globe. With continued membership in the oneworld® Alliance, the new American’s customers will have access to an even greater range of destinations, airline choices, and mileage earning and redemption opportunities.
    American remains fully committed to its joint business agreements with British Airways and Iberia, Japan Airlines and Qantas. The new combined American Airlines will be a stronger airline with a broader route network bringing even greater benefits to the joint business relationships.
    The new American will provide increased choices and better options for customers. The combined airline will bolster American’s industry-leading position in Latin America and offer expanded service for smaller markets around the world. In addition, US Airways offers service to 48 domestic destinations and 14 international destinations not currently served by American, including Amsterdam, Athens, and Munich. As a combined carrier, we will also offer the most service across the East Coast and Central regions of the U.S., and offer a strengthened network on the West Coast.
    This will be an end-to-end combination with two highly complementary networks and we’re committed to building value for our people, customers, communities, and shareholders. The strategy will be to leverage the best of the two carriers’ assets to produce a premier global carrier well equipped to compete and win against the best in the world.
    How will American remain competitive in the European and Asian markets?
    The combined company will have the scale, breadth and capabilities to compete more effectively and profitably in the global marketplace. Customers will have access to more choices and increased service across the combined company’s larger worldwide network and through an enhanced oneworld® Alliance, creating more options for travel and benefits both domestically and internationally.
    How will new aircraft deliveries with the new American livery enhance the overall travel experience for customers?
    Our new aircraft deliveries allow us to provide the most connected, comfortable travel experience in the industry by offering our customers the state-of-the art amenities they value most. During the next four years, the combined airline is planning to take delivery of 607 new aircraft, including 517 narrow-body aircraft and 90 wide-body international aircraft, most of which will be equipped with advanced in-seat inflight entertainment systems offering thousands of hours of programming, inflight Wi-Fi, and Main Cabin Extra, offering customers four to six inches of additional legroom in the Main Cabin.
    American continues to announce new onboard products that offer distinct value, particularly to international and premium class customers. Please tell us more about the new international premium experience.
    Last year, American rolled out a host of new upgrades for First Class and Business Class customers, offering an elevated international premium class experience. Product enhancements include new china and flatware designs and industry-leading amenity kits. New elements also include increases in customer choices with new menu selections, and provide consistency in the premium experience across all international fleet types.
    The new international premium service enhances the customer experience by increasing the attention to detail beginning from pre-departure through landing with a variety of upgraded premium class offerings.
    Upon boarding, First Class customers will receive a welcome aboard card, tablet case kit with Dermalogica skincare products, upgraded close-toed slippers, an additional pillow and a choice of a specialty mimosa. Full size lotions will be available in the First Class lavatory on the 777-300ER aircraft. Business Class updates include new slippers and an amenity kit with Akhassa cosmetics.
    While inflight, First and Business Class customers will enjoy new menu selections with updated, more modern china, new flatware, and upgraded linens. In addition, First Class customers will receive a textured placemat, napkin ring, accent water glass and amuse bouche, a bite-sized hors d’œuvre.
    A wine sampling will be offered inflight for First Class customers. Customers will receive a tasting card to assist in their selections and all offerings will be specially chosen for the flight by American’s wine consultant, Ken Chase.
    Food and beverage enhancements will include more variety and selections, including the introduction of a soup option, and a customizable pasta entrée – a first for an airline. First Class customers will also see an expansion of American’s signature sundaes with a featured sundae option, a breakfast card – similar to hotel room service, increased bread options and a pre-landing sweet treat and spa water.
    Business Class customers will also enjoy newly designed food elements and a customized sundae from the airline’s popular dessert cart.
    In addition, premium class customers on the 777-300 aircraft will enjoy a walk-up bar with a selection of snacks, sandwiches and sweets, available anytime between meal services.
    How does AA and US Airways plan to combine their two frequent flyer programs? Will there be four tiers (like US Airways) instead of three in the American Airlines AAdvantage® program? If so, will this affect Million Miler member status or benefits?
    There is no immediate impact to the AAdvantage® program. At this time, American and US Airways will remain separate companies and each company will maintain its current loyalty program – our AAdvantage program and US Airways Dividend Miles.
    AAdvantage miles are secure and existing miles will continue to be honored. Likewise, elite qualifying miles and elite status, including lifetime status granted under the Million Miler® program are secure and remain intact. In addition, customers can continue to earn miles through existing AAdvantage participating companies and can redeem those miles for the same great awards – flights, upgrades, car rentals and hotels just to name a few.
    Once the merger is complete, the new American will evaluate how best to structure its loyalty program. Ultimately, the combined company is expected to offer members more opportunities to earn and burn miles from an expanded global network of routes and partnerships, unmatched redemption options including flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, one-way awards and lounge memberships, and much more.

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