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What Did AA Gain With AirCal & RenoAir?  
User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4414 times:

In the go-go merger-mania 1980's, no airline was considered in the elite clique unless they found someone to merge with - NW and Republic, Delta and Western, UA acquiring PA's Pacific routes (as good as a merger), USAir with...well, anyone they could get their hands on.

For better for worse, this is business. I am wondering, however, what did AA get out of the whole deal with the acquisitions of Air Cal and Reno Air?

I know that USAir bought PSA, but promptly abandoned the market to Southwest, as AA did with Air Cal, yet a few years later, they purchased Reno Air, grounded the fleet, and abandonded the routes. What purpose did this serve? Was it a failed attempt at a second western hub?

Thanks for your insights!!


Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineKL808 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1584 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4403 times:

Quoting PanAm747 (Thread starter):
For better for worse, this is business. I am wondering, however, what did AA get out of the whole deal with the acquisitions of Air Cal and Reno Air?

Monopoly + less competition.  duck 

Drew



AMS-LAX-MNL
User currently offlineUSPIT10L From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 3295 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4376 times:

Quoting PanAm747 (Thread starter):
I know that USAir bought PSA, but promptly abandoned the market to Southwest, as AA did with Air Cal, yet a few years later, they purchased Reno Air, grounded the fleet, and abandonded the routes. What purpose did this serve? Was it a failed attempt at a second western hub?

According to the AA 1999 annual report, the purpose of the QQ acquisition was to strengthen and grow AA's market on the west coast, through growth at LAX and SJC. SJC was going to be used as a Pacific Rim and transatlantic hub (SJCCDG was started and cut in 2001, SJCLGW was applied for, but denied by the DOT). As for AA's acquisition of OC, I haven't a real clue, but it could have been the same. A whole generation of California travelers could walk up and purchase dirt-cheap fares from SNA, LAX, SFO, and SJC to almost anywhere in California because of AirCal and PSA. After AA and US got through gutting their networks, aircraft and people, UA and WN became the strongholds of intra-California traffic.



It's a Great Day for Hockey!
User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11712 posts, RR: 62
Reply 3, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4376 times:

Quoting PanAm747 (Thread starter):
I am wondering, however, what did AA get out of the whole deal with the acquisitions of Air Cal and Reno Air?

AA suffered from horrible timing in both situations, plus the ultimate inevitability that they could never compete with Southwest.

AA bought AirCal in 1987, right as the earliest Silicon Valley rumblings were beginning to get going with growing information technology investment. This collapsed, however, in the 1991-1993 period when the economy softened, killing AA's first attempt at a SJC hub. AA's retreat left a huge market for Southwest to backfill, just as with what happened in Nashville and Raleigh/Durham.

The second time around, AA bought Reno Air in 1999 -- again, right at the peak of the tech bubble. At the time, Reno Air had an excellent network spanning up and down the west coast with flights focused on AA's three (at the time) most important west coast "focused growth" markets: San Jose, Los Angeles and Orange County. This effort also died, however, when the tech bubble burst in 2000-2001, once again leaving AA holding the bag.

This time around, though, Southwest already had a very agressive and dominant market position in San Jose and the Bay Area, making it nearly impossible for AA to ever really build back their again.

AA's flawed logic in both cases was this: AA felt that by combining strong north-south networks up and down the West Coast (provided by either AirCal or Reno Air) with their extremely strong east-west transcon and domestic newtork, plus international, Hawaii and alliance connections, would allow them to produce stronger yields in these shorthaul West Coast markets. The reality, however, is that these markets have been and will continue to be driven by price and price alone, and there is simply no way around it.

As long as AA can't profitably compete on price with Southwest and other low-cost short-haul operators, it will never be able to operate a profitable, meaningful presence up and down the West Coast.


User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4334 times:

AA gained a handful of MD-90's that ended up in the desert.

And a bunch of pilots who were stapled to the bottom of the senority list...and furloughed. The end.

DeltaGuy


User currently offlineBucky707 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1028 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4301 times:

All AA got was the same thing Parker is trying to get.....elimination of a competitor.

User currently offlineDesertAir From Mexico, joined Jan 2006, 1462 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4301 times:

AA gained the distain of many West Coast passengers as did US Airways. Both AA and US destroyed colorful California native airlines. I would rather have PSA and AirCal flying up and down the California Coast and other western cities than WN...but WN took up the challenge of the California Inerstate market.

User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11712 posts, RR: 62
Reply 7, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4286 times:

Quoting Bucky707 (Reply 5):
Both AA and US destroyed colorful California native airlines. I would rather have PSA and AirCal flying up and down the California Coast and other western cities than WN

If AA had not bought out AirCal, and USAir had not bought PSA, both would definitely have been long-gone. Even if either had survived the recession of 1992-1993, I highly doubt that either airline would ever have survived the tech bubble bursting, let alone 9/11. Southwest would have finished them both off long ago.


User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 4269 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 3):
This effort also died, however, when the tech bubble burst in 2000-2001, once again leaving AA holding the bag.

It was compounded, IIRC, by the fact the QQ was already bleeding money on its network. As you said, AA's hope was for the combined operation to increase load and yield on QQ's routes and thus make them profitable, but the market downturn precluded that.

Steve


User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 4005 times:

Thanks for your replies!!

I understood the Air Cal thing - everybody was buying everybody on a binge worthy of Paris Hilton  duck , but the Reno Air seemed like it was over from the start - AA bought it, and immediately dismantled it. Kind of like AA telling Reno and San Jose, like a parent to a small child, "no, you're not allowed to ever have a hub".

Fleet incompability, very little overlap...without knowing the economics, I almost assumed it was done just for spite. Now, at least, I know better.



Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
User currently offlineJetdeltamsy From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2987 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 3954 times:

Two short-lived jumps into the western U.S. markets.

They pulled back both times.



Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
User currently offlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3474 posts, RR: 47
Reply 11, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3936 times:

AA purchased OC because.... it had to. AA only wanted a jet airline partner on the west coast for the "halo effect" associated with the AAdvantage program. Originally AA looked at PSA, but PSA management wasn't interested. So AA looked toward AirCal. As that was happening, AA competitors were lurking in the shadows and both PSA and AirCal managements were feeling out the sell option. AA again looked at PSA, but it was 120% mortgaged so AirCal looked like the better option. Continental almost purchased AirCal, but Crandall stepped in with a sweatened, all-cash now offer. What did AA gain? SNA slots that produced annual incremental revenue to AA equal to the total purchase price of AirCal.

AA tried to make a N/S west coast hub work, but.... everybody knows how that turned out. For both USAir and AA, operating full planes on the west coast earning $1,000 profit/flight never made sense when they could operate those same plane on east coast flights 1/2 full and earn $3,000 profit/flight. If it wasn't AA/USAir who purchased AirCal/PSA, somebody else would have... with nearly the same affect.

AA purchased Reno Air.... because it had to. QQ management placed the company on the auction block and AA purchased it before any of AA's competitors could make a viable competitive offer. AA did this to protect its high-yield AAdvantage customers, many of which chose QQ for west coast flying specifically because QQ offered the AAdvantage program. Purely a defensive move with little objective to "gain" anything.



*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
User currently offlineJamake1 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 1012 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3880 times:

quote=Commavia,reply=7]f AA had not bought out AirCal, and USAir had not bought PSA, both would definitely have been long-gone. Even if either had survived the recession of 1992-1993, I highly doubt that either airline would ever have survived the tech bubble bursting, let alone 9/11. Southwest would have finished them both off long ago.
[/quote]

Not exactly correct. Southwest only started penetrating intra-California markets in 1989...after AA had started running American Eagle Convairs (unsuccessfully) on former Air Cal routes...and USAir had already begun decreasing frequencies in the California corridor. Southwest flew SFO-SAN and SFO-LAS since the early eighties, but had a very minor presence in California. AA's Convair service (OAK-BUR) was very short-lived, and AA dropped the route...as well as many others...altogether. This left a void in the market and Southwest swooped in. Another problem operationally, was that USAir sent PSA's Super 80's back east and started flying 737-300's in the California market. The problem was, however, that the flights originated on the east coast and would then continue as a tag-on intra-state flight. Weather problems back east led to compromised schedule integrity.

Both airlines were guilty of not understanding the westcoast market. I refute your assumption that PSA and Air Cal would've been out of business had they not been taken over by US and AA, respectively. Alaska has weathered the competitive storm quite well, and my belief is that PSA and Air Cal would've done the same...

[Edited 2007-01-25 09:02:03]


United's B747-400. "She's a a cruel lover."
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20684 posts, RR: 62
Reply 13, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3828 times:

Quoting AAR90 (Reply 11):
What did AA gain? SNA slots that produced annual incremental revenue to AA equal to the total purchase price of AirCal.

 checkmark 

Quoting Jamake1 (Reply 12):

Both airlines were guilty of not understanding the westcoast market. I refute your assumption that PSA and Air Cal would've been out of business had they not been taken over by US and AA, respectively. Alaska has weathered the competitive storm quite well, and my belief is that PSA and Air Cal would've done the same..

I agree with your assessment. PSA weathered far greater threats to its existence over the years than a short-lived recession. AirCal's and PSA's home market was the world's 8th largest economy on earth. It's also well documented that Southwest had all but given up on making a run on California until USAir simply packed up and left town in May '91.

It might even be said that Alaska wouldn't have made the inroads they have up and down the west coast had neither AirCal or PSA been bought out. I other intra-California and west coast news, United just keeps humming right along as they always have.



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineFlyboy7974 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 1540 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3811 times:

All that AA got out of both aquisitions were a few slots in ORD. That's all, and with the second, finally the end of a secret that so many thought that Crandall had his hand in the pocket of RenoAir.

At both times, AA used the want to "build west coast presence" but it was obvious immediately with the RenoAir purchase that this was not the fact being that with the acquisition immediate route closures were announced and a complete immediate restructure took place. Not like most other mergers. AA did at least integrate the AirCal infrastructure for a period of time before finally realizing that AirCal was as opposite as could possibly be from AA. AirCal utilized a fleet of B737-300 and Bae146 jet aircraft while neither of those were found in the AA fleet. With the AirCal purchase as well as the RenoAir purchase, both times AA obtained numerous landing rights also in SNA.

AA also both times abandoned to what they had promised not to, but abandoned numerous smaller cities as destinations were closed and routes withdrawn, employees who were told how great the AA acquisition would benefit them, and hubs like San Jose (twice) and Reno (once) that were competing against the fortresses known as Southwest, United (Shuttle by United) and the Alaska north to south route and hub systems.

I do remember with the RenoAir acquisition specifically that from start to finish, AA seemed scandalous. Our family had quite a bit of interest in QQ and sadly enough it was what was happening behind the scenes that disgruntled most of the QQ employees and RenoAir patrons. Even though both airlines flew the MD-80, the cockpits lacked synergy and AA had to paint the QQ planes white to identify the difference in specs so that waiting crew, sups, and station ops were able to recognize which a/c were previous QQ. MD-90 and MD-87 a/c were disposed of and before we all knew it, another smaller west coast start up was eaten alive and left as scraps.


User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3741 times:

Quoting Flyboy7974 (Reply 14):
AA had to paint the QQ planes white to identify the difference in specs so that waiting crew, sups, and station ops were able to recognize which a/c were previous QQ

They simply left the QQ birds in white, added red and blue stripes, and painted the tails grey. Mainly because it's a project to take a painted airplane and turn it back to polished metal.

Steve


User currently offline28l28l From Australia, joined Nov 2005, 459 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 3639 times:

Above all else, mergers are about big, fast money for CEOs, top management and major stock holders (ie. Don Carty and QQ, then TW within his short tenure). Routes, the public benefit, fleet types and employees are all a distant second (and third).

User currently offlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3474 posts, RR: 47
Reply 17, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 3526 times:

Quoting Flyboy7974 (Reply 14):
I do remember with the RenoAir acquisition specifically that from start to finish, AA seemed scandalous.

Welcome to the Don Carty version of "growth." In hindsight it is easy to see there was no "growth" in the AA purchase of QQ, nor was there much "protection" of AAdvantage customers. But that is what Carty claimed was the objective.

Quote:
...AA had to paint the QQ planes white to identify the difference in specs so that waiting crew, sups, and station ops were able to recognize which a/c were previous QQ.

Sorry, but the nose number is all that was required to ID an ex-QQ bird. The real reason the planes remained white is because that was a requirement of the original lease agreement of QQ. The fuselages were annodized(sp?) as a corrosion prevention technique and when AA inquired about stripping the planes to polished bare metal (to match the rest of AA's fleet), the owners of the planes said: "no." Therefore, the alternative paint scheme.

Quoting 28l28l (Reply 16):
Above all else, mergers are about big, fast money for CEOs, top management and major stock holders (ie. Don Carty and QQ, then TW within his short tenure). Routes, the public benefit, fleet types and employees are all a distant second (and third).

I'm not a big (or little) fan of Don Carty, but neither he nor any AA senior executive made any $$$ from the AA mergers --they are prohibited from owning any equity in other airlines or airline suppliers. OTOH, QQ management placed that airline up for sale and supposedly made a nice profit.



*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
User currently offlineJunction From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 768 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 3467 times:

Quoting Jamake1 (Reply 12):
The problem was, however, that the flights originated on the east coast and would then continue as a tag-on intra-state flight.

You are exactly right about this. I can remember one USAir flight number in the late 80s that took the same 733 aircraft on a route going CLE-PIT-ABQ-TUS-SNA-SFO. There were many others similar to this. SNA would be frequently left off the boarding announcements in PIT, because the original USAir agents there literally didn't even know what the PSA city codes were. The HP/US situation reminds me of this a lot, except it’s the HP agents not always knowing the US East system too well.


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3412 times:

Quoting DeltaGuy (Reply 4):
AA gained a handful of MD-90's that ended up in the desert.

And a bunch of pilots who were stapled to the bottom of the senority list...and furloughed. The end.

Well there were more than just pilots that were part of both aquisitions. In the case of Air Cal the AMT's and rampers got their full senority. I'm not sure about the pilots, working on that angle as we speak. As far as the Air Cal FA's go I want to say they got full senority but I'm not sure on it.

The Reno pilots as you said did get stapled to the bottom. Now how many are still on furlough I do not know. I do know that there are still quite a few Reno A&P's still working for AA. Quite a few never got a furlough notice until RNO was closed as a mainteance base last year. Even then they were afforded the opportunity to go to other stations.

Quoting Flyboy7974 (Reply 14):
All that AA got out of both aquisitions were a few slots in ORD. That's all,

They gained a bit more than that. They gained some pretty valuable slots at places like SNA. Even though AA stoped flying Reno routes like SNA-RNO or SNA-LAS within a year those slots did not just disappear. Instead they put them on routes where they could make more money. Routes like SNA-DFW and SNA-ORD.


User currently offlineFlyboy7974 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 1540 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3388 times:

Actually, no, part of the painting of the QQ aircraft was that let's say specifically for Vegas ops because that's where I did my one day in-house tour when looking to intern, as we stood in the terminal, and what, 1/2 mile away or so you see an MD-80 on approach by its obvious characteristics, that far away the AA reps could differentiate between the silver and white paint jobs on a/c and thus start their in terminal work. Our gate proved this to work because LAX ops had subbed an AA MD-80 for the QQ flight, and thus, for our return segment back to LAX the first class cabin now was overbooked. It created quite the hype to have to downgrade pax. I didn't say it was the only reason, but, it did help ops and gate agents early on to prepare for the flight. I did know something about the paint stripping, and never really understood it, but just guessed it had its reasons just like the AA Airbus fleet having to be painted grey.

I know also the effect of the second AA purchase and how it angered local business people in Reno. For quite sometime there was an advertising campaign to boycott AA after the shutdown of the RNO hub after the QQ acquisition. I was just looking through my Reno Air box trying to find some of the newspaper clippings and page ads on how angered the city officials were and the city campaign to get people to spread the word that if RNO was part of your travel plans, book other than AA. And in all honesty, I agree.

Junction, after your comment about the US Air routings after the PSA acquisition, I had to look back at a few of those flights. As you mentioned, east coast reps had no idea what some of the cities were, and US Air had a/c on flights that had 4, 5, and even 6 stops enroute. Reason being, it allowed the integration of a/c from the east structure to the west and vice versa. After PSA was bought, their MD-80 were found better suited for the east coast corridor and US Air starting to use their B737-300 and B737-400 a/c out west in addition to the short-lived Bae-146. Looking at the old timetable, here's a SEA-RNO-SFO-BUR-PHX-IND-PHL-BDL flight and I think for a while US Air just connected the dots to be able to get a/c from east to west. Pairs like ICT to the west and LAX-TUS-ABQ-PIT and all the midwest US Air cities becoming connected to the new west coast PSA destinations. Also on this note, remember with the takeover US Air trying to offer their level of on-board service on the PSA west coast flights. Snacks served on LAX-SAN, hot meals on BUR-LAS/OAK/SFO/SJC, and flights flying the Bae146 were gettng catered items it couldn't do and it was such a mess. One time picking up a neighbor who was arriving from SJC on US Air on a Bae146 in BUR, she walks off with a lil baggie with her meal still in it because something about the galley and the f/a couldn't prepare what was catered, well it provided enough laughs for a while for all of us.


User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3379 times:

Well with OC, AA gained all the OC frequent flyers who live in Orange County

User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26537 posts, RR: 75
Reply 22, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3362 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 3):
AA suffered from horrible timing in both situations, plus the ultimate inevitability that they could never compete with Southwest.

If AA competed with Southwest on average price, they could easily make money in that situation. Further, like said, Southwest didn't really expand in California until AA and US bailed.

Quoting Commavia (Reply 3):
As long as AA can't profitably compete on price with Southwest and other low-cost short-haul operators,

Again, that is a pile of  redflag  and you know it. Southwest's domestic economy yields top the industry.

Quoting DesertAir (Reply 6):
Inerstate

Intrastate

Quoting Commavia (Reply 7):
If AA had not bought out AirCal, and USAir had not bought PSA, both would definitely have been long-gone.



Quoting Commavia (Reply 7):
Southwest would have finished them both off long ago.

Not particularly. Both of those airlines were going strong and had already begun adjusting to market realities as well as diversifying their route structures. PSA was an interstate and international carrier at that point, flying to Mexico, Las Vegas and other places and had made the big BAe-146 order that opened up jet service to more California communities, along with allowing frequency at off peak times on prime routes.

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 13):
I other intra-California and west coast news, United just keeps humming right along as they always have.

Well, not exactly. United's intra-California service is a shadow of what it once was.

Quoting Flyboy7974 (Reply 20):
but just guessed it had its reasons just like the AA Airbus fleet having to be painted grey.

Actually, the AA A300s are all in bare metal. The portions that are grey are the non-metal parts.

Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 21):
Well with OC, AA gained all the OC frequent flyers who live in Orange County

At this point, a lot of them have switched to United or Southwest.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11712 posts, RR: 62
Reply 23, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 3343 times:

Quoting N1120A (Reply 22):
Again, that is a pile of [...] and you know it. Southwest's domestic economy yields top the industry.

What?

Who said anything about yields? The issue at hand is cost and that is where Southwest has a distinct advantage over American and just about every other carrier but JetBlue. With unit operating costs that are considerably lower than American's, Southwest can price fares quite low and still make money whereas American can easily compete on price, as they always do, but can't make money at those prices.


User currently offlineWorldTraveler From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3281 times:

AA also built its own hubs in BNA and RDU which were later dismantled so AA did little successful network expansion during the 80s and 90s.

AA's dismantling of its TWA operation was a major topic at the Senate hearings on airline consolidation yesterday. When an airline has dismantled as many airlines as AA has, they have a horrible reputation and cannot be viewed as credible in Washington. Parker tried to convince the Senators that what AA did doesn't represent what he would do but no one was impressed.

Any of you who think AA would succeed in a NW merger attempt when AA would have four midwest hubs in their portfolio are seriously naive. Washington demonstrated disdain for any more hub closures and cutbacks.


25 Commavia : ??? AA did little successful hub expansion during the middle to late 1980s, but did a good deal of hub expansion at the beginning of the decade (D/FW
26 N1120A : The point is that Southwest brings in more on the average ticket.
27 AeroWesty : Yes and no. UA has dropped service in some markets and opened others, but no one has ever competed up against UA on SFO-LAX like PSA did. They used t
28 WesternA318 : Didn't the original Western have a sizeable operation from the LA airports to the Bay airports? What about AirCal?
29 AeroWesty : They did serve LAX-SFO and LAX-SJC, I don't believe LAX-OAK. It wasn't sizeable in the way UA or PSA had operations on the route. A lot of airlines f
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