During the livery reveal event, AMR chief executive Tom Horton took a few questions from the media.
Here's what he had to say about the timing of the announcement and a possible merger with US Airways.
Q: Did the possible merger influence the branding decision?
Horton: Not really at all because this process started almost two years ago. We were thinking about the new American irrespective of a merger. Now I think whether we decide to merge or not, that’s a separate question. Of course that will be informed by what creates the most value for our owners, what’s best for our people, what’s best for our customers. But throughout this process of restructuring and the evalution of the merger we have been steadfast on our mission to modernize our company and that’s what this is about.
Q: Can you comment on the merger talks?
Horton: We ‘re not going to comment on it, because we’re right in the middle of the evaluation. As we speak, with our board of directors, with our creditors committee and with others, so we’re working through that and we’ll let you know that when we have a decision.
Q: How much is the brand change going to cost and how long will it take to get the new livery on the entire fleet?
Horton: Cost and timetable. So the cost as you might imagine is confidential but it’s very much in line with what other major companies have spent in such a rebranding effort. What’ unique about American in this moment in time, is that we do have 550 new airplanes on order, so those planes are going to start coming into our fleet very quickly and so that’s a perfect time to introduce this because the new planes are certainly being produced with the new livery and it doesn’t require going back and repainting the fleet. So that will bring the cost of this down significantly and the fact that it goes alongside the modernization of the fleet and everything else we do is very fitting.
Q: Did you discuss the new brand with US Airways? Did they have any input?
Horton: No. We are competitors today so we didn’t’ think it appropriate to discuss it with them. I will tell you that I got home last night and I called my good friend, [US Airways CEO] Doug Parker, and I informed him what we were doing as a courtesy and so I did do that and we had a very nice chat.
Q: Why did you decide to unveil the rebranding now when the company is still restructuring in bankruptcy?
Horton: The restructuring is about making our company more competitive, so we restructured our fleet, our facilities, our debt, our leases, all of that has been modernized with the product in every way. We’re going to come out of this strong with a competitive cost structure, a strong balance sheet. So now it is time to turn the page and move forward....This has been in the work for two years. We were very much focused on the introduction of the 777-300 and you can see… The plan was to put the new livery on it and send those airplanes around the world and indeed that is what we’re going to do.
Q: If your board does decide on the merger with US Airways will you have to redo your brand and logo?
Horton: I wouldn’t think so…This look sort of speaks for itself. This is, I think, a very powerful image for the new American whether we proceed with the combination or not and I would think most folks would agree.
Q: Are you concerned with the issues going on with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner?
Horton: We have the Dreamliner on order. We have 42 firm and 58 options. I would expect eventually we would take all 100 of those airplanes as part of our fleet modernization and growth. I think it’s going to be a great airplane. Clearly Boeing and the operators of the airplane are working through these issues as we speak. We’re being supportive. We have great confidence in the Boeing company and I think it will be a good airplane and those issues will be resolved well before the time we take delivery of it