This article is a part of a multi piece opinion on how American Airlines can regain investor confidence, passenger loyalty and general good public perception. For the index of the articles, see here. Click on any heading to see my full comments on each topic!
For the past weeks, I have been commenting on what I think that American should do to make investors, passengers and employees happy. My main issue lies with the American C Suite, who seem disconnected from all three major stakeholders in the company. If American is to return to market leader, they need to make changes. Here are the main changes from each topic:
American should once again focus on their JFK hub. The airline had a lot of potential there, until Doug Parker and Co. decided to leave it as a barebones operation. I don’t disagree with downsizing non-profitable routes, but American can focus on regaining market share in one of the busiest airports in the world.
American also needs to improve domestic partnerships, with airlines like Alaska, jetBlue and Hawaiian. This will provide synergies for the airlines and allow them to offer passengers better connections and experiences.
The airline needs to invest in foreign ventures that will improve connectivity. I don’t believe in the Etihad “invest for the sake of investing” approach. However, American has a lot of catching up to do when compared with Delta. China Southern has a lot of potential, so does an investment in Africa and India. Finally, American should be less reticent on investment from foreign carriers, such as Qatar Airways. This will allow an influx of cash, and better cooperations between the two airlines. Granted, in all these cases, the investments would be a small minority shareholding. The investment will be enough to have some leverage but not all the leverage on the airlines.
American needs to retire the 767, it is very unreliable. The airline has been struggling to keep the 76s on schedule, and they can’t be relied upon for on time departures anymore. As American gets more 787s, these airplanes should replace the 767s, and allow the 76s to retire. The 757s flying out of PHX also need to be retired, as they are gas guzzlers, and can be replaced. I hope to see the A321neos be the ones to replace those 757s soon.
Food food food. This is where American has the greatest chance at improving. Their premium food is sub par, in coach and business. If they offered variety and better quality food, the airline could set itself apart. They can also add more business class seats, and improve their international wifi, which, at the moment, is dismal.
END PROJECT OASIS. IT IS A TERRIBLE IDEA FOR PAX EX. That is all.
The main focus for my AAdvantage improvements are two points. The first is for American to allow Gold and Platinum elites to upgrade for free on domestic flights, without squeezing them for more money by making them spend upgrade certificates. This is Draconian and needs to stop, considering no one else does it. The second is more sAAver award availability, which is basically non-existent, and predictability when it comes to award releases. These two things can make AAdvantage a lot more customer friendly, especially for lower level elites.