LambertMan
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Article In STL-PD

Sat Feb 14, 2004 3:58 am

Does size matter?
By Cynthia Wilson
Post-Dispatch
02/12/2004

When American Airlines cut back service Nov. 1 at Lambert Field, travelers had to adjust to more than fewer flights. The airline uses regional jets more often on nonstop routes, leaving passengers with less headroom, elbowroom, legroom and storage space.

As a result, some St. Louis-area travelers consider cabin space, in addition to flight schedules, when choosing an airline.

John Bryant of Sikeston, Mo., used to fly American Airlines almost exclusively before it cut nearly half its flights at Lambert.

Now, on trips when price and flight schedules aren't factors, the plant manager travels on whichever airline provides the most room.

"I don't like the little airplanes," he said after returning from a recent business trip to Shanghai, China. "They're too cramped."

Malcolm Sweet, president of Condaire Inc. in Crestwood, stands more than 6 feet tall and weighs about 300 pounds. The cabin space in larger jets - such as American's MD-80s or Southwest's Boeing 737s - offers a more comfortable ride, especially on longer trips, he said.

Sweet finds that it's easier to work while traveling on larger planes. On regional jets, he said, "It's so cramped, it's difficult to get anything out to even read."

Like most major airlines, American is struggling to become profitable again. One strategy to improve the bottom line is using more regional jets, which bring more profit per passenger.

The smaller jets also make it possible to maintain service to many cities that otherwise might have been eliminated from American's schedule Nov. 1, company officials said.

Despite the flight cuts, 70 percent of air travelers in St. Louis go places where American offers nonstop service, said C. David Cush, vice president and general sales manager in charge of global sales for the airline, based in Fort Worth, Texas.

American still provides the most flights on larger planes at Lambert, he noted.

"Whether we're first choice (of travelers) or not, we certainly have the best schedule in St. Louis," Cush said. "We're on course to grow (in) St. Louis, which may mean larger planes where regional jets fly now, or it may be more regional-jet frequencies."

Cush visited St. Louis on Feb. 5 and attended a luncheon the airline held for corporate customers, top travel agencies, and representatives of key civic and charitable organizations.

In an interview, Cush said he wants customers to know American is in St. Louis to stay.

The message will be reinforced through a seven-person sales team based in St. Louis, he said. The team will call on corporate customers to help the airline with understanding their travel needs and will develop relationships with large travel agencies. The sales team also will become more involved in community events and charities.

But the airline's message to business and other types of travelers might be a hard sell, said Liese Hutchison, an associate professor specializing in public relations at St. Louis University.

"It seems that nothing that was promised was delivered" after American's acquisition of Trans World Airlines' assets in 2001, she said. "People felt betrayed when American promised to come in and save the hub," jobs and service.

Whether American chooses to run advertising or have more face-to-face contact with customers, she said, it's essential that the airline address their concerns.

"It's an image issue," Hutchison said. "They need to rebuild relationships with people who have left the airline for whatever reason."

Robert Schainker, manager of Carlson Wagonlit/Jan's Travel in Kirkwood, said American has the largest network of any airline in the world, but cutbacks in St. Louis have diminished the value of the product for some fliers.

Fewer nonstop flights are forcing many American Airlines passengers to connect more often through another city. And the increased use of regional jets means passengers spend more time in smaller spaces traveling longer distances, Schainker said.

Before the airline restructured its Lambert operations, a flight on a regional jet averaged 300 miles. Today, the average distance is 700 miles on flights operated by Trans States Airlines, said William Mishk, vice president of planning for Trans States.

St. Louis-based Trans States provides the most regional-jet service at Lambert for American under the AmericanConnection brand.

Turning around

Perhaps with a bit of irony, "more legroom throughout coach" remains the cornerstone of American's marketing strategy nationwide.

Cush said local customers got used to such creature comforts after American bought TWA out of bankruptcy three years ago. TWA used larger jets on most flights at Lambert until February 2000, when its pilots amended their contract to allow the airline to use 50-seat regional jets.

Many of TWA's rivals, including American, had been using regional jets for nearly a decade. Alone, the St. Louis market couldn't fill many of the large jets, said Cush, former vice president of American's hub in St. Louis.

Still, he said, the latest sales push is not an effort by American to reposition itself in the minds of St. Louis-area travelers. The airline is pleased with the way its corporate customer accounts are performing in St. Louis, he said.

And not all passengers object to the smaller airplanes.

"I thought it wouldn't be as comfortable. But it doesn't bother me at all," Nancy Steinman of Columbia, Mo., said after a recent flight to St. Louis. "They give the same service, and I've always had a smooth flight."

Tripp Frohlichstein, owner of MediaMasters in Kirkwood, said he's satisfied with the regional-jet service and isn't bothered that he has less room to work while traveling. He especially likes that he can check and pick up his carry-on luggage outside the plane's door.

Frohlichstein's biggest complaint: He gets less use out of his frequent-flier plan.

"The only disappointment for someone with a lot of frequent-flier miles is fewer opportunities to travel first class," he said. "(American's) regional jets don't have first-class seating."

In addition to roomier seating, first-class passengers board before other travelers, receive free alcoholic beverages, are served meals on china and can hang their coats in a closet.

Cush said he knows business travelers place a premium on upgrades. As the airline's performance improves in St. Louis and as travel patterns warrant, American plans to replace some regional jets with large planes, as it recently did on flights between St. Louis and Washington.

If demand were to improve, but not enough to support larger jets, the airline would increase the number of nonstop flights in and out of St. Louis, he said.

For now, the financial performance of the Lambert operation has "significantly improved," and it's second only to American's operation in Dallas, Cush said.

Regional jets contributed to that turnaround.

"Going from bigger planes to the regional jets will probably take time to adjust," Cush said. "The world's a different place than it was two years ago. We think we've shown our commitment to the community."

Challenges and opportunities

Despite schedule cuts at Lambert Field and expended use of smaller jets, American Airlines says it's in St. Louis to stay. To reinforce that message, the airline's seven-person St. Louis sales team will ...
Call on corporate customers to understand their travel needs.
Develop relationships with large travel agencies.
Become more involved in community events and charities.

Many travelers felt betrayed when American Airlines cut back St. Louis service last year, St. Louis University professor Liese Hutchison says. To rebuild trust, she says, the airline must ...
Work with the business community to determine what routes, direct flights, fares and packages would benefit both parties.
Listen to employees and work with them to meet organizational goals.
Partner with community groups, citizen committees and others on projects that benefit the airline and its passengers.


"We're on course to grow (in) St. Louis, which may mean larger planes where regional jets fly now, or it may be more regional-jet frequencies." There is another sign that the Stl quazi-hub is performing well. They mentioned the transition from smaller to larger jets will take a long time, but hey, I'm willing to wait. Them positioning a seven member team into STL is showing AA's continued interest in St Louis. Hopefully, that restructuring that took place in November will benefit AA and STL in the long run.
 
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Sat Feb 14, 2004 5:16 am

Typical Post-Dispatch article on the topic....

"Waaah.... no big planes anymore....."
"AA is here to stay, we're here for St. Louis business"
followed by
"I travel a lot out of STL and I just hate these schedule cuts!"

St. Louis should consider itself lucky to still have this level of service from American. Southwest wouldn't provide half the non-stop frequencies and certainly not to all of the destinations currently offered. I'd rather keep multiple RJs a day than a single Southwest B737.
 
LambertMan
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Sat Feb 14, 2004 11:52 am

Hahah, very representative of the type of article that STL-PD usually puts out. One of the most unreliable aviation sources mind you. Big thumbs up
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Sat Feb 14, 2004 12:34 pm

One thing that caught my eye...STL is SECOND to DFW? in financial stuff? what do they mean by that? I thought STL was liek 3rd or 4th or am I thinking in hub mgmt?


Alex
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
atcboy73
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 3:43 am

Well, they don't have any competition on routes to DFW, LGA, BOS, DCA, MIA, SFO and SEA from STL. Unlike ORD which has UA and also has MDW and its low fare airlines in the communting area.

So maybe they can charge a higher fare.

But it does seem odd to me to consider the STL operation the second best performing operation AA has. I don't know. For some reason I just don't buy it.
 
LambertMan
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 4:07 am

I don't see where it says 2nd best performing hub, will someone point it out?
Whoops I see it now.....no need for explanation.

[Edited 2004-02-15 20:35:10]
 
MTChemNerd757
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:23 am

i love the 300 pound guy complaining about not enough room on the RJs. seriously.
Fight Terrorism - Ride a Bike!
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:32 am

lambertman- i dont undertsand how STL is second best??

but otherwise I agree with the artcile and I sure hope to see more mainline comign back in response to this.

Alex.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
MAH4546
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:45 am

One thing that caught my eye...STL is SECOND to DFW? in financial stuff? what do they mean by that? I thought STL was liek 3rd or 4th or am I thinking in hub mgmt?

Miami is thier best performing hub, not Dallas.
a.
 
LambertMan
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:53 am

No offesne MAH, while I do respect your aviation knowledge and connections, I think that the AA execs possibly may know more than you do about the ongoings in the company. Coming right from the mouth of a high ranking official is hard to argue with.
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:04 am

MAH-
"For now, the financial performance of the Lambert operation has "significantly improved," and it's second only to American's operation in Dallas, Cush said"


straight from the article- Dallas is Number 1, and St.Louis is second, so clearly MIA is not 1st or even 2nd, they are prolly 3rd, or maybe even 4th compared to ORD.

Alex.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
MAH4546
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:07 am

My error, I did not read the article carefully enough. Though financial performance and profit are not nessicarily the same thing, and, sorry, I don't buy for a second that St. Louis makes more overall profit than Miami, or Chicago for that matter.

By "financial performance", they are most likely referring to the high yields they have on certain services, like notable business markets to Boston, National, Dallas, and LaGuardia, where they offer the only non-stops.

a.
 
LambertMan
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:12 am

Well, the reason why I'm thinking STL may be doing so well is when AA got ride of all those routes on Nov. 1 they cut everything that presented a question on whether or not they'd be profitable without the feed. They have shown that they are not shy about cutting routes out of St Louis such as TPA, CLT, PHX, LAF that are not profitable, and the only things left out of STL is cut even under demand (MSY, SAN) to ensure full loads and higher yields since its alot of O/D traffic. AA has a well thought out strategy here in St Louis and I look forward to future growth. Big thumbs up
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:12 am

"My error, I did not read the article carefully enough. Though financial performance and profit are not nessicarily the same thing, and, sorry, I don't buy for a second that St. Louis makes more overall profit than Miami, or Chicago for that matter.

By "financial performance", they are most likely referring to the high yields they have on certain services, like notable business markets to Boston, National, Dallas, and LaGuardia, where they offer the only non-stops."

Its ok, we all do that. I know also that STL deosn't make AA the profit MIA and ORD do. But we do have a higher yield of business route then MIA do, simply because MIA is to me more of a leisure destination. so MIA will have more leisure routes therefore, the prices are lower to better suite the Families. STL has a high business rouet so AA can raise the prices for some business rouet and make money off of it for exmaple as someoen posted awhile ago he found a 1400 STL-DCA flight on AA, which proves AA is jacking them up big time(the business people I mean) So, the term "finanacial profitability" coems to mind when they see that.

Alex.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
MAH4546
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:29 am

But we do have a higher yield of business route then MIA do, simply because MIA is to me more of a leisure destination.

MIA is one the stronger yielding airports in the United States. Miami is a business destination, and the leisure traffic to Miami is higher yielding than normal because Miami is a premium tourist destination. The average American family of four cannot afford to vacation in Miami. They go to Ft. Lauderdale. To give you some examples of some major business markets from Miami where American Airlines enjoys nice profits:

Miami-Caracas
Miami-Maracaibo
Miami-Mexico City
Miami-San Pedro Sula
Miami-Panama City
Miami-Medellin
Miami-Sao Paulo
Miami-Santiago de Chile
Miami-Madrid
Miami-London Heathrow
Miami-Washington, D.C.
Miami-Atlanta
Miami-Houston
Miami-Detroit
Miami-Port of Spain
Miami-Kingston

so MIA will have more leisure routes therefore, the prices are lower to better suite the Families.

What would be "leisure routes" from other cities, like certain Caribbean destinations, are actually business routes from Miami. Like Port of Spain and Grand Cayman, both which have a large amount of business travel from the Miami area. There is also a good amount of business traffic between, of all places, Miami and Cancun, which is one reason AA continues to offer some 738s on the route, although it clearly suited for the 757s.

AA can raise the prices for some business rouet and make money off of it for exmaple as someoen posted awhile ago he found a 1400 STL-DCA flight on AA, which proves AA is jacking them up big time(the business people I mean)

If a business traveler were to go to AA.com right now and book a two day trip to Washington National, leaving on the 19th and home on the 20th, STL-DCA-STL would cost him $770.20. The same dates, same times, MIA-DCA-MIA, an important business route for AA, comes in at $1344.20. Keep in mind, this is no indiciation of yield, but to think that MIA enjoys cheap fares is anything but. From MIA, AA has zero non-stop compieitition on key routes to Latin America and other business centres, including Boston and Washington National.
a.
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:45 am

MAH- You post a very good reference reffering to some intl destinations. In my opinion STL and MIA are hardly worth comparing since MIA has waay more inlt flights then STL, so in a way automatically, MIA WILL produce a higher yield then STL would. When I was posting I did forget to include some intl flights i was mainly thinking of domestic flights to STL and MIA.
I define leisure routes for me out of MIA to..LAX, SFO, SEA, PHX(connect or not) places like those. Business would be of course the cities you mentioned.

Does MIA enjoy more business people from the US or other countries? Again I left FLL out because even tho it is close it does not justify a response (at least to me). And yes FLL is better suited for the Family of four then MIA is.


Alex.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:51 am

I flew into STL a couple months ago, I'd lived there for a long time and left right around when TWA went out of business. It is truly sad to anyone that grew up around there to see what has become of STL. You used to be able to fly just about anywhere in the world out of STL and now all the TWA gates are either empty or have a RJ parked out in front. AA should be careful, I would not be surprised if a LCC comes in with increased service.
The beatings will continue until morale improves
 
MAH4546
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:00 am

I define leisure routes for me out of MIA to..LAX, SFO, SEA, PHX(connect or not) places like those. Business would be of course the cities you mentioned.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are two big business markets from the Miami area. Phoenix and Seattle are heavier leisure markets, though there is a reasonable amount of business traffic between Miami and Seattle.

Does MIA enjoy more business people from the US or other countries?

Mainly other countries, though MIA's key business markets are an even mix of domestic and international: New York City, Washington, Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles domesticlly; Caracas, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, London, and Buenos Aires internationally.
a.
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:24 am

MAH- My mistake, thanks for the correction. Have a good day.

Alex.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:31 am

"I flew into STL a couple months ago, I'd lived there for a long time and left right around when TWA went out of business. It is truly sad to anyone that grew up around there to see what has become of STL. You used to be able to fly just about anywhere in the world out of STL and now all the TWA gates are either empty or have a RJ parked out in front. AA should be careful, I would not be surprised if a LCC comes in with increased service."

Yes- It was very nice ot just get a flight and be 95% gauranteed it was a N/S, but alas we cant do that now. We have a significant amount flight for a O&D airport. about 56 or so mainline whihc is not bad. and thats AA alone, not counting other ailrines that serve STL. We do have LCC, Southwest(even tho they were there during TWA times) and recently Frontier Airlines moved in and is flying STL-DEN and has added STL-LAX for around the spring time. SO we do have enough, would be nice ot see FL and B6 but it takes due time.

Alex.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
Air1727
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:37 am

If you read anything from someone who doesn't directly work for American Airlines, are not a yield manager for American Airlines, and have no formal professional training and experience in aviation management and operations, then I suggest you take everything you read with a grain of salt.

Unfortunately, the official from American blundered that case in point. When he stated Saint Louis was second to Dallas, he was not specific if Dallas was first in the entire system, nor was he specific on what category of performance he was speaking about. Saint Louis is not within shadow's blur of Miami or Chicago, let alone Dallas.

That Post-Dispatch article was empty in my opinion, as are most of their aviation-related articles; a sure fire plague in the press is avia-ignorance.
In the Alaska bush I'd rather have a two hour bladder and three hours of gas than vice versa.
 
LambertMan
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:43 am

CanoeCarrier, you mention that we are a shadow of what we used to be, and while I do agree, I'm very thankful for what we have here, and that we didn't go by the way of BNA. STL apparently was losing gobbs and gobbs of money for AA and I'm just happy they chose to keep a mid-sized presence here period. They could have easily packed up and moved everything to their more profitable hubs in MIA, DFW, and ORD. But in a way, it was a smart move for AA to keep a decent presence here because I'm almost positive we would've seen F9, B6 or FL establish some kind of small operation here and would thus further erode midwest yields.
 
atrude777
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 8:01 am

Lambertman- Agreed. I too am thankful for what we have, and even though i dont sound liek I truly do appreciate the airlien and business and what AA is doing to STL. Hva ea good sunday or Monday everyone!

Alex.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Article In STL-PD

Mon Feb 16, 2004 8:02 am

I realize that WN does fly there, I used to fly them to MCI all the time from STL. My point was more that I was shocked, after years of living in the area, and being used to seeing gates full of TWA's fleet, to come back to STL and almost all of those gates were empty. I agree that AA was smart to keep a mid-sized presence or you correctly point out a LCC (other than WN) would have established more of an operation. However, I've thought that once the Embraer 190's come in for B6 STL might make sense as an expansion city. If not them Frontier.
The beatings will continue until morale improves

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