American Airlines (AA) is a major airline in the United States. It is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, and operates scheduled flights throughout the United States, as well as flights to Latin America, Western Europe, and Japan. Since 1982, AA has been a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation, which also owns American Eagle and its subsidiary Executive Air (American's other commuter affiliate, American Connection, is independent of AMR). The chairman and CEO of AMR and AA is Gerard Arpey.
By many measures, including passenger traffic, fleet size, and number of employees, American is the largest airline in the world. As of October 2004, American served 172 cities with a fleet of 840 aircraft, handling 80 million passengers a year with an average of 2,600 daily departures.
American has five hubs: Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, Miami, San Juan, and St. Louis. American also has major operations at Boston, New York LaGuardia and JFK, and Los Angeles, and operates maintenance bases at Tulsa, Kansas City, and Fort Worth Alliance.
American Airlines developed from a conglomeration of about 82 small airlines companies through a series of corporate acquisitions and reorganizations. In 1934, American Airways Company, in financial straits, was acquired by E.L. Cord, who renamed the company "American Airlines". Early in its history, the company was headquartered at Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois. American's innovations during this period included the introduction of flight attendants and the "Admirals Club," which was initially an honorary club for valued passengers and later became the world's first airline lounge (at LaGuardia Airport).
The main American Airlines route until the late 1950s was from New York and Chicago to Los Angeles via Dallas. One of the early American Airlines presidents, C.R. (Cyrus Rowlett) Smith, worked closely with Donald Douglas to develop the DC-3, which American Airlines started flying in 1936.
With the introduction of "Astrojet" service in the 1960s, American's focus shifted to nonstop coast-to-coast flights, although it maintained feeder connections to other cities along its old route. During the 1970s, American flew to Australia and New Zealand, although it traded these routes to Pan Am in 1975 in exchange for routes to the Caribbean.
Following a financial slump in the 1970s under the leadership of former general counsel George Spater, American hired Robert Crandall as its CEO, who introduced many innovations including the world's first frequent flyer miles (AAdvantage) and corporate travel card (AAirpass). After discovering several thousand unused CRT terminals in a Tulsa hangar, Crandall ordered them refurbished and provided to travel agents, creating the first airline-owned agent-accessible computerized reservations system.
In the meantime, American Airlines had moved its corporate headquarters from New York City to Fort Worth, Texas in 1979 (under provisional CEO Al Casey), and changed its routing to a spoke-hub distribution paradigm starting in 1981, opening its first hubs in Dallas and Chicago. American began flights to Europe and Japan from these hubs in the mid-1980s. In the late 1980s, American opened three new hubs for north-south traffic, in Nashville, San Jose (added in the purchase of Air California), and Raleigh/Durham. All three were abandoned in the mid-1990s in favor of expanded service at Miami, which became a hub after American bought the South American operations of Eastern Airlines in 1990.
American prospered through the 1990s, becoming the world's most profitable publicly-owned airline. Crandall left the company in 1998 and was replaced by Donald J. Carty, who negotiated the purchase of Trans World Airlines and its hub in St. Louis in 2001. In the wake of the TWA merger and the roughly concurrent September 11 attacks (which claimed two of AA's aircraft), American began losing money. Carty negotiated new wage and benefit agreements with the airline's labor unions, but was forced to resign after union leaders discovered that Carty was planning to award handsome executive compensation packages at the same time.
In Carty's wake, American has undergone additional cost-cutting measures, including rolling back its "More Room in Coach" program (which eliminated several seats on certain aircraft types), ending three-class service on many international flights, and standardizing its fleet at each hub (see below). However, the airline has rebounded and expanded its service into new markets. In 2004, AA applied to serve Shanghai from Chicago O'Hare, its first expansion into Asia since an abortive attempt to serve Taipei in mid-2001.
American's early liveries varied widely, but a common livery was adopted in the 1930s that featured a large eagle painted on the fuselage of each aircraft. The eagle became a widely-recognized symbol of the company and inspired the name of American Eagle Airlines. Propeller aircraft featured an international orange lightning bolt running down the length of the fuselage, which was replaced by a simpler orange stripe with the introduction of jets.
In the 1970s, American commissioned an industrial designer to develop a new livery. The original design called for a red, white, and blue stripe on each aircraft's fuselage, and a simple "AA" logo, sans eagle, on the tail. However, American's employees revolted when the livery was made public, and launched a "Save the Eagle" campaign similar to the "Save the Flying Red Horse" campaign at Mobil. Eventually, the designer caved in and created a highly stylized eagle, dubbed "the bug," which remains the company's logo to this day.
For many years, American was the only major U.S. airline that left the majority of its aircraft surfaces unpainted (Northwest has since adopted a similar bare-metal scheme). Originally, this was because C. R. Smith hated painted aircraft, and refused to use any liveries that involved painting the entire plane. Crandall later justified the bare-metal design by noting that less paint reduced the aircraft's weight, thus saving on fuel costs.
The average age of AA's aircraft is 10.5 years  (http://www.airsafe.com/events/airlines/fleetage.htm).
In the past, American has operated a wide variety of aircraft types, including:
United States, U.S. Territories, Canada, and Mexico
American currently has codesharing agreements with Aer Lingus, Air Pacific, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Deutsche Bahn, EVA Air, Finnair, Grupo TACA, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Mexicana, Qantas Airways, SN Brussels Airlines, SNCF, Swiss International Air Lines, TAM Airlines, Thalys, and Turkish Airlines. American Connection, which feeds American's hub at Lambert Saint Louis International Airport, is also a codesharing operation with three regional carriers.
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