These are times of unprecedented challenge and change in the airline industry, and the appointments we are announcing today will put American in an even stronger position to continue the substantial progress that has already been made under the tenets of our Turnaround Plan.
At American Airlines, we have built a business around the love of travel that has lasted three quarters of a century. And I'm pretty sure we're just getting started.
We need to take excellent care of our customers, and do so at a profit.
This airline is grateful for his extensive contributions and we will miss his friendship and support. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Casey family on its personal loss.
But I don't think the popularity of flying has diminished a bit.
I think in just about any business the low cost competitor is always going to have an advantage.
Second, we have to make the most of the strengths we have, the amenities that many of our competitors cannot replicate. But again, those advantages won't mean much if we don't do a great job with the basics of our business.
It is not good thinking - either at the corporate level or at the personal level - to believe you can simply walk away from your circumstances.
Markets that don't work we're going to step away from.
We have, unlike many of our competitors, continued to meet our various financial obligations.
Despite the painful changes we have had to make, we continue to believe in the St. Louis market. And we are hoping to add flights, in a careful way, as the economics of our business improve and the demands of the traveling public in St. Louis become clear.
First, we have to lower our costs to levels that are more competitive. This will prevent the lower-cost airlines from pushing us out of the markets we want to serve. We've made great progress on this front, but we need to keep pushing.
But I definitely see us playing a major role in St. Louis in the years to come. We already provide service to 95 percent of the markets St. Louis travelers visit the most. And we're adding capacity in some of the most important markets.
However, the economics of our business continued to deteriorate. We barely escaped bankruptcy a year ago, and in the aftermath of that escape we had to make some even tougher decisions.
Just to cover the increase in fuel costs over the past two years, American would have had to raise fares nearly $75 per round-trip ticket. During this time period, our average fare increased by only $15.
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