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American Airlines to modernize fleet despite bankruptcy filing

The airline, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last week, says 10 new Boeing 777-300ER planes it will acquire in the next two years will include lie-flat seats in first- and business-class sections, mood lighting and a walk-up bar.

December 05, 2011|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
  • A Category 3 hurricane to hit the East Coast for two days would result in a loss of $606 million in travel spending, plus $176 million in lost federal, state and local tax revenue, according to a study conducted by the research arm of the Global Business Travel Associations foundation. Above, a photographer in August observes the flooding in lower Manhattan along the East River in New York caused by Hurricane Irene.
A Category 3 hurricane to hit the East Coast for two days would result in a… (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles…)

A day after American Airlines parent company AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection last week, the airline announced it had chosen a swanky interior for 10 new planes it plans to add to its fleet in 2012 and 2013.

Despite its financial woes, American said it is pushing ahead with a massive modernization effort.

The new Boeing 777-300ER jets the airline will acquire in the next two years are in addition to 460 narrow-body planes that American ordered in July.

The 777 jets will include lie-flat seats in first- and business-class sections, mood lighting and a walk-up bar stocked with snacks and drinks, the airline said. Throughout the plane, passengers will have access to an entertainment system with 120 movies, more than 150 TV programs and 350 audio channels.

American ordered the narrow-body planes in July to replace the airline's MD-80s, most of which had been built from 1979 to 1999. The new planes are expected to be up to 35% more fuel efficient than the MD-80s.

While analysts speculated that American's bankruptcy filing last week was triggered by a stalemate in contract negotiations with pilots, the pilots union said the airline's aging fleet only added to its financial woes, especially because fuel prices jumped 41% over the last year.

"Had we had those planes in place today to replace the gas-guzzling MD-80s we'd be much better off," said Howie Shack, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Assn. "That was part of the issue."

Young business travelers expect to travel more

If you're a young business traveler, you're likely to hit the road more often for work in the coming year. You also prefer checking into hotels without human contact and working in crowded spots rather than alone in your room.

That's according to a survey by Deloitte & Touche, the global consulting and auditing firm, that found that more than 60% of all business travelers expect to travel about the same in 2012 as this year. But 27% of business travelers ages 18 to 44 said they expect to travel for work more often in 2012 than this year, according to the online survey of 1,000 business travelers.

Meanwhile, only 16% of business travelers 45 years and older said they planned to travel more next year.

"As you travel up the corporate ladder and are more senior, you travel less," said Adam Weissenberg, global travel leader at Deloitte.

And when business travelers check into a hotel, 36% of younger workers prefer using an automated kiosk rather than registering with a hotel employee at the front desk, compared with only 19% of business travelers 45 and older, according to the survey.

Younger business travelers also prefer to work in a lobby or business lounge while older travelers prefer working in their room, the survey found.

Among travelers younger than 45, 36% said they prefer the hotel's social spaces for work while only 17% of travelers 45 and older like to work in such group settings.

"Younger generations are much more into wanting to be in a social situation," Weissenberg said. "They want more opportunity to mingle."

Hurricane would disrupt business travel

If a Category 3 hurricane hits the East Coast for two days, it will disrupt approximately 514,000 business trips, according to a new study by the Global Business Travel Assn.'s foundation.

That would result in a loss of $606 million in travel spending, plus $176 million in lost federal, state and local tax revenue, said the study, conducted by the research arm of the trade group.

The study based its results on a mythical storm, Hurricane Alpha, that swept through the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states before traveling through the Northeastern states and out to sea.

Luckily, there was no major hurricane to verify the findings this year. The Atlantic hurricane season for 2011 ended last week without a big storm hitting the coast.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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