Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
American Airlines (AA) is the largest airline in the world. 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. AMR was named after the old American Airlines NYSE ticker symbol, which AMR still has today. AMR Corporation also owns 2 commuter airlines: American Eagle, and 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 three main hubs: Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, and Miami. American also has major operations at Boston, New York LaGuardia and JFK, Los Angeles, San Juan, and St. Louis 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. 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 computer 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/Ft Worth 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 Eastern Airlines' Central and South American routes in 1990.
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. St. Louis' hub was also dismantled afterwards.
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, including Ireland and western Japan. In 2005, AA received FAA approval to serve Shanghai from Chicago O'Hare beginning April 2, 2006, its first expansion into Asia since an abortive attempt to serve Taipei in mid-2001. AA has also received approval to fly to India under the US-India open skies agreement, but has yet to announce specific service plans.
American Airlines also was famous in the US pop culture. In the early 1990s, singer Janet Jackson made a commercial for them. American Airlines was also featured in the Home Alone movie series. In the 1960s, Mattel released a series of American Airline stewardess Barbie dolls.
- American Airlines Flight 320 , a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashed on approach to LaGuardia on February 3, 1959 due to pilot error.
- American Airlines Flight 625 , a Boeing 727, crashed on approach to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands on April 27, 1976.
- American Airlines Flight 191, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, crashed at O'Hare Airport on May 25, 1979.
- American Airlines Flight 965, a Boeing 757, crashed on approach to Cali, Colombia, on December 20, 1995.
- American Airlines Flight 1420, a McDonnell Douglas MD-80, crashed on June 1, 1999.
- Two American Airlines aircraft were hijacked and crashed during the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack: Flight 77 (a Boeing 757) and Flight 11 (a Boeing 767).
- American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in New York City on November 12, 2001.
- American almost lost Flight 63 to "shoe bomber" Richard Reid on December 22 of the same year, but the plot was foiled. The flight was enroute from Paris De Gaulle to Miami, and was diverted to Boston's Logan Airport.
- Corporate Airlines Flight 5966, an affiliate of American through the American Connection alliance crashes in Missouri killing 13 people.
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 late 1960s, 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. 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 .
- Boeing 777-223ER
Used for flights to Tokyo, Nagoya, London, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo, as well as some domestic services when needed for ferrying purposes. American's 777 fleet consists of "Atlantic" and "Pacific" subfleets, which mainly differ in their cabin configuration: the Pacific aircraft are configured in an 18/42/163 seating layout with an older first class cabin with lay-flat beds, while the Atlantic aircraft are configured 16/35/194 with a larger and newer first class cabin that features American's Flagship Suite. The Pacific aircraft are rotated between Japan service and Latin America service, while the Atlantic aircraft are kept on transatlantic routes.
- Boeing 767-323ER
Used for long-haul routes to Europe, Hawaii, and Latin America, premium transcontinental, as well as some hub-to-hub ferrying flights. Configured 30/183, with a first class cabin marketed as business class on international flights. Most are based in California.
- Boeing 767-223
Used for transcontinental flights, mainly on the New York-Los Angeles and New York-San Francisco routes. The 767-223s are configured 9/30/119 in a special three-class layout originally known as "American Flagship Service." These aircraft are slowly being phased out of the fleet.
- Airbus A300-600R
Used for high-density, medium-range trunk routes to the Caribbean and between cities on the East Coast, in a two-class 16/250 configuration. The A300 is the highest capacity aircraft in American's fleet, and is also the airline's only European-built aircraft following the retirement of the Fokker 100. Most are based at Miami and New York JFK.
- Boeing 757-223
Used for domestic and Latin American flights. American operates two variants of the 757-223 which differ mainly in their door layout (one has window exits while the other, inherited from TWA, has four doors on each side of the aircraft). The seating layout is 22/166, with the old-style first class seats. Most of American's 757s are based at Miami, although they are found throughout the system.
- Boeing 737-823
The most recent addition to American's mainline fleet, used for domestic and Latin American flights. Configured 16/126. The 737s are most common in Miami, and are slowly replacing MD-80s across the system.
- McDonnell Douglas MD-80
Ubiquitous throughout American's network in the 1980s and 1990s, the MD-80s are still dominant on American's east-west network through Chicago, St. Louis, and especially Dallas. They have become less common on the East and West Coasts. Although the MD-80s are now the oldest aircraft in American's fleet, most have been fitted with new interiors in recent years. The standard MD-80 configuration is 14/115; there are also some 16/115 aircraft in the fleet inherited from TWA.
In the past, American has operated a wide variety of aircraft types, including:
- BAC 111 (1960s-70s)
- BAe 146 (1980s)
- Boeing 707 (1950s-70s)
- Boeing 727-123 (1970s-80s)
- Boeing 727-223 (1970s-90s)
- Boeing 737-223 (1980s)
- Boeing 747-123 (1970s-80s) (two were later used as Shuttle Carrier Aircraft)
- Boeing 747SP (1970s-80s)
- Convair 240 (1950s-60s)
- Convair 990 (1970s)
- Curtiss Condor (1920s-30s)
- Douglas DC-2 (1930s)
- Douglas DC-3 (1930s)
- Douglas DC-4 (1940s)
- Douglas DC-6 (1940s)
- Douglas DC-7 (1950s)
- Fokker 100 (1980s-2004)
- Ford 5-AT-B Trimotor (1920s)
- Lockheed L-188 Electra (1950s-60s)
- McDonnell Douglas DC-10 (1970s-90s)
- McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (1990s)
See full article: American Airlines destinations
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 Chile, Mexicana, Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines, SN Brussels Airlines, SNCF, Swiss International Air Lines, TAM Airlines , Thalys, and Turkish Airlines. American Connection, which feeds American's former hub at Lambert Saint Louis International Airport, is also a codesharing operation with three regional carriers.
- John M. Capozzi, A Spirit of Greatness (JMC, 2001), ISBN 0965641031
- Don Bedwell, Silverbird: The American Airlines Story (Airways, 1999), ISBN 0965399362
- Al Casey, Casey's Law (Arcade, 1997), ISBN 1559703075
- Simon Forty, ABC American Airlines (Ian Allan, 1997), ISBN 1882663217
- Dan Reed, The American Eagle: The Ascent of Bob Crandall and American Airlines (St. Martin's, 1993), ISBN 0312086962
- Robert J. Serling, Eagle (St. Martin's, 1985), ISBN 0312224532
- International Directory of Company Histories, St. James Press.
- American Airlines
- Yahoo! - AMR Corporation Company Profile
- American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum
- Historical timetables and route maps
- American Way, American's inflight magazine
- American Airlines crashes
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