Is American the Flag Carrier of the USA? Should it be?

 
Old Jan 26, 13, 1:15 pm
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Is American the Flag Carrier of the USA? Should it be?

I had the opportunity to attend one of the tour stops of ship 3JT, the new liveried 738, at JFK this past Friday. Without getting in to whether you like the new livery, logo and tail or not, I found it interesting to hear the thoughts from Tim Ahern, Vice President of New York & International. When describing the livery he started at the back of the plane, working forward. And, specifically when talking about the tail he said this:

We believe with the name American on the front of the airplane…that we are certainly the flagship to the world for America…. [The tail] is intended to give the view of the flag flying in the air and hopefully we’ve captured that for all of America as these airplanes fly around the world.


At least from the perspective that they meant to appear as the Flag Carrier of the USA I'd say the new tail does a decent job presenting that image. But is that how they should be approaching the global market? Does claiming to be the US's Flag Carrier do them any favors? Does it work against them?

I'm curious what others think. I happen to believe it is a rather bad choice, but I am sure some will disagree.

Thoughts??

Also, photos from the visit here and more discussion on the flag carrier claim here.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 1:30 pm
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I think it's great to see a company stand up to represent our country in such a way without having our government do it for us. I like the logo, and I'm proud of all the good things the citizens of the United states have done over the years. We can argue about particular events, but we've done a lot to be proud of in our history too. Let's show it and support those who do!
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Old Jan 26, 13, 1:39 pm
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No and No
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Old Jan 26, 13, 1:44 pm
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What makes America (the country) great is that we don't have a flag carrier.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 1:50 pm
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Flag carrier is a dated concept from a period when national airlines were generally given franchises by their governments to serve their colonies. And these airlines were more often than not government owned. This was the case for AF, KLM, BA, LH and others. After WWII the term was variously used by emerging countries in their post colonial period to buttress their state airlines. The US never had a flag carrier in this same way, though it designated PanAm and TWA as defacto carriers permitted to operate overseas routes and pretty much supported these routes with postal, diplomatic and military contracts. Other than flights to Canada and Mexico (and some Caribbean islands) AA, UA, EA and DL flew strictly domestic until the 60s. (NW received some Pacific routes after WWII, supported by military contracts, given the additional lift required there.)

With the collapse of PanAm, its overseas routes were auctioned off primarily to UA (Pacific) and DL (SAmerican) and AA expanded its overseas presence with the acquisition of TWA, augmenting the few routes it already operated after receiving its first 707s. As US businesses became more multinational in search of overseas markets they buoyed the operations of US carriers. It was also at this point when the general public started traveling in greater numbers and the marketplace opened up as the jet age matured...and the arrival of the jumbos (747, L1011 and DC10).

Last edited by Shareholder; Jan 26, 13 at 1:56 pm
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Old Jan 26, 13, 2:03 pm
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Flag carriers also date significantly from the post WWII period, when airlines usually needed government stimulation to succeed. In the US, we had the opposite situation - we were so (relatively) filthy rich that we regulated them and strangled them a bit. In August of 1945, 75% of the world's manufacturing capacity was in the US, and 50% of the world's GDP was in the US. (Heck, even today, the US GDP is staggeringly large).

As countries become functional free markets, the need for a flag carriers is reduced or eliminated. However, in smaller less developed economies, they still provide the necessary domestic airline capacity that usually cannot be supported by fares, so are instead supported by taxes.

No, AA should not be a flag carrier. However, I will point out that seven of the eleven OneWorld carriers are flag carriers (AA, AirBerlin, S7 and Cathay Pacific are not) so the branding makes some sense from that standpoint.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 2:44 pm
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Shareholder and jec6613are spot on.


There is no need for the US to have a flag carrier. I see no reason for the government to give any kind of preferential treatment to one private company (AA) over others just because of its name.

There was once a need for certain countries to have a flag carrier. In most cases this is not the case anymore.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 2:50 pm
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It's a poor choice and it will work against them. Most have a strong feeling on when, where and how the American Flag is waved, displayed... I personally don't like it the way it is displayed on some jackets, t-shirts, to me this is not patriotic it seems more nationalism.

(An extreme form of this, esp. marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.)


They could have done it gracefully, I find the American Airlines tail design as absurd, over the top, in your face. I'm sure many in the international community will find the tail obnoxious as well. I wonder with this tail... does this make American Airlines more of a target by international terrorists? After all you are trying the brand yourself as the flagship carrier of the USA

Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post

At least from the perspective that they meant to appear as the Flag Carrier of the USA I'd say the new tail does a decent job presenting that image. But is that how they should be approaching the global market? Does claiming to be the US's Flag Carrier do them any favors? Does it work against them?

I'm curious what others think. I happen to believe it is a rather bad choice, but I am sure some will disagree.

Thoughts??

[/URL].

Last edited by Radiant Flyer; Jan 26, 13 at 3:14 pm
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Old Jan 26, 13, 2:58 pm
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Over time, things evolve. Even how the phrase "flag carrier" is used. I also attended Mr. Ahern's presentation, and the sense I got from his use of the phrase "flag carrier" was one of pride in America, working for American Airlines and being American. He said nothing about seeking attempting to gain preferential treatment from the United States government over Delta or United. I see it as purely symbolic and there is nothing wrong with that.

When I was given the opportunity to walk to the tarmac and see the plane, I was struck not so much by the tail or the eagle, but by how "American" was painted across the body of the aircraft. It made me feel good. The ground service guy I was standing next to me, without prompting, said that it made him feel good too.

I think posters who see the use of this phrase as "colonial", "dominating", "American superiority", "offensive to people of other countries" have clearly been watching far too much MSNBC.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 3:07 pm
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Originally Posted by george 3 View Post
He said nothing about seeking attempting to gain preferential treatment from the United States government over Delta or United.
I hope that my post didn't imply that he meant it in that way; I don't think they expect preferential treatment in that sort of way. And maybe it is simply pride in the USA that motivated this move. I still think it is a questionable decision from a marketing perspective. FedEx had a similar situation when shifting from Federal Express to FedEx to avoid the appearance of being tied to the US government. Not exactly the same but similar IMO.

Did I meet you at the event by any chance?? If not, sorry I missed you.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by btr View Post
I think it's great to see a company stand up to represent our country in such a way without having our government do it for us. I like the logo, and I'm proud of all the good things the citizens of the United states have done over the years. We can argue about particular events, but we've done a lot to be proud of in our history too. Let's show it and support those who do!

The government is what allows American to exist despite not paying back all their debt.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 3:20 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
I hope that my post didn't imply that he meant it in that way; I don't think they expect preferential treatment in that sort of way. And maybe it is simply pride in the USA that motivated this move. I still think it is a questionable decision from a marketing perspective. FedEx had a similar situation when shifting from Federal Express to FedEx to avoid the appearance of being tied to the US government. Not exactly the same but similar IMO.

Did I meet you at the event by any chance?? If not, sorry I missed you.
I was only able to stay for one hour as I had a meeting at 2pm back in the city. I was chatting with several marketing staffers and a travel agent running programs to Brazil, and was also one of the people interviewed by another marketing person. BTW the chicken kibabs were excellent (only had time for one LOL) Next time we're both invited to something, I'd be glad to reach out my hand to you and say hello.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 3:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Radiant Flyer View Post
I wonder with this tail... does this make American Airlines more of a target by international terrorists? After all you are trying the brand yourself as the flagship carrier of the USA
AA was already the target. It is intentional that on 9/11 the carriers chosen were American and United, and that the aircraft in question were all Boeing (757-222, 757-223, 767-222 and 767-223). No Airbus aircraft, all American made Boeing products, and AA and UA are the two most closely associated with the USA. (The organizers then got the opportunity to become intimately familiar with Boeing's other fine products.)

If you recall the heyday of the 1980's hijackings overseas, they were mostly Pan Am 747 clippers that were targeted for similar reasons.
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Old Jan 26, 13, 4:37 pm
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[QUOTE=Radiant Flyer;20129597]It's a poor choice and it will work against them. Most have a strong feeling on when, where and how the American Flag is waved, displayed... I personally don't like it the way it is displayed on some jackets, t-shirts, to me this is not patriotic it seems more nationalism.

(An extreme form of this, esp. marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.)


They could have done it gracefully, I find the American Airlines tail design as absurd, over the top, in your face. I'm sure many in the international community will find the tail obnoxious as well. I wonder with this tail... does this make American Airlines more of a target by international terrorists? After all you are trying the brand yourself as the flagship carrier of the USA[/QUOTE

very well said ! ^

--J
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Old Jan 26, 13, 4:52 pm
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They missed the opportunity...

…being a flag carrier denotes a state-owned or sponsored, usually unprofitable or bloated company that is trying to survive in a world with less shelter.

Being American could have easily represented America's entrepreneurial spirit, can-do attitude, innovation, seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty, seeing opportunities instead of problems, etc.

The PR line about being America's flag carrier means nothing - U.S. carmakers found that 'buy USA' only works if you have a good product.

And while in the auto business, German-made may be a positive, America in terms of airlines is regarded as having some of the world's crappiest.

Major marketing miss.
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