American Airlines Says Direct Flights to Africa from its JFK and LaGuardia Terminals Are ?Improbable? At This Time

American airlinesAfrican cities will be excluded from the mix when American Airlines launches new international destinations at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2011. The carrier is expanding its foothold in New York and says minority owned businesses will benefit from that expansion.???

Addressing a question posed by The Network Journal at a March 31 news conference to announce the carrier?s expansion in New York, the world?s largest travel market, and its new partnerships with JetBlue Airways and NYC & Co., American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey said it?s ?improbable? that American will launch direct flights to Africa from JFK any time soon.

?We serve Africa through [London?s Heathrow Airport],? he said, referring to American?s partnership with British Airways in the oneworld airline network.?

Arpey announced plans to add seven new destinations served by 23 additional flights to and from LaGuardia Airport and JFK; an agreement with JetBlue offering JetBlue customers connections to American?s international flights and new domestic-flight options on JetBlue for American customers in and out of New York and Boston; the addition of new American Eagle Bombardier CRJ-700 airplanes to fly new routes from LaGuardia; and a marketing deal with NYC & Co., New York City?s official marketing agency, to reach business travelers and tourists arriving in and leaving from New York. Under the two-year deal, the two sides will promote each other with a $3 million advertising campaign and a $3.5 million payment by the carrier to NYC & Co.

Arpey also announced terminal improvements worth more than $30 million at both JFK and LaGuardia, as well as possible co-location with British Airways at an expanded Terminal 8 at JFK to allow easier passenger connections to American?s oneworld airline partners.? Improvements at LaGuardia involve refurbishing the LaGuardia Admirals Club location and the interior of Concourse D with new ceilings, lighting, terrazzo flooring, wall panels and flight information displays and similar renovations, followed by similar renovations at Concourse C. At JFK, the existing 11,000-square-foot Concourse C Admirals Club will be expanded by 3,000 square feet, along with some reconfiguration and refurbishment of the club.?

Asked if these investments will mean contracts for minority-owned enterprises, including advertising in ethnic media, Arpey stressed that American already has a solid track record of supplier diversity, evidenced by contracts awarded minority and women-owned businesses for its $1.3 billion state-of-the-art Terminal 8 at JFK and plans to maintain that record. His statement was vigorously supported by U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks, who represents the Queens district that is home to both JFK and LaGuardia.????

?That?s why I am here today,? Meeks declared at the news conference. ?I can tell you that American Airlines has been good for Queens in terms of jobs and contracts small, minority and women-owned businesses,? he said.?
American named Art Torno, a 30-year veteran of the company, to the new position of vice president-New York, with responsibility for airport operations and oversight of all of American?s activities in the New York market.