American Tries to Capitalize

06_02_26 nycWho wants to guess that last Thursday’s announcement of American’s “New York Initiative” was coincidentally timed shortly after JetBlue’s problems? Me neither. I can’t imagine it was a coincidence.

New York has been a battleground for a long time. Besides JetBlue’s substantial flying, Delta has tried to grow its JFK operation into a major transatlantic gateway, despite the decrepit state of its terminal. Meanwhile, American has continued to grow domestically and in Latin America from both LaGuardia and JFK. Over on the other side of the city, Continental has the built the largest operation of all, making Newark a major domestic and European hub.

So what exactly is American trying to do this time? According to the press release, they will “demonstrate its commitment to New York with additional routes, enhanced offers, and promotions.”

Once you get below all the fluff, what exactly are they going to do? First they talk about all the stuff they have done already. This includes a variety of premium class promotions and the new terminal which is very nice but cost way too much money. They’ve upgraded to the 767-200s that fly to LAX and SFO and they’re installing new business class seats on their long haul widebodies. Ok, so what are they going to do going forward?

Well, much of it is schedule-oriented. They’ll start flying from LaGuardia to Cincinnati and Louisville as well as from JFK to Las Vegas. They’re adding additional flights from LaGuardia to Raleigh/Durham and from JFK to San Francisco, Port-au-Prince, and Caracas. Also, flights to Atlanta will be upgraded from regional jets to mainline jets.

But wait, there’s more.

They’re opening a new lounge at JFK for international First and Business class passengers. And they’re going to spend a bunch of money on advertising.

In other words, they’ve cobbled together a bunch of things they’ve done and now they’re going to put it into an advertising campaign. Sounds like a good plan in light of JetBlue’s troubles. Still, this market is a tough one with all the competition. It will be interesting if they can actually grow their share with these moves.

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