American Airlines targets affluent Chinese travelers

Our blog has had the pleasure to obtain an exclusive interview from Mr Victor Lee, American Airlines Greater China’s Regional Director, based in Shanghai. As the United States are one of the favorite destination of the Chinese travelers for both business and leisure, we wanted to know more about the strategy of American Airlines in China.

Since  April 2006, American Airlines operates a daily flight from Shanghai Pudong to Chicago O’Hare. In 2010, a new flight route will be open from Beijng to Chicago, to give more options to the Chinese travelers.

“The expansion of our network to China is a profoundly significant event that strengthens American as a global competitor and further enhances Chicago as one of the nation’s foremost international gateways,” said Mr Victor Lee. “With daily nonstop service between Chicago and Shanghai, China’s largest and most dynamic business center, we will provide broad new access to China for tens of thousands of passengers and shippers in cities large and small, stimulating the market and building strong new commercial and cultural ties between our two countries.” Mr Lee added.

For now, the main part of the Chinese travelers from Shanghai were business travelers, but, with the new recent US visa policy opening the doors to Chinese tourists groups, and the number of rich Chinese citizens in Shanghai, American Airlines is expecting a fast growing on this flight route, specially for the First and Business class Chinese travelers.

American Airlines operates the Shanghai flight using 245-seat Boeing 777-200 aircraft, the largest in American’s fleet. In First Class, the 777 features 16 Flagship Suite seats that transform into a fully flat six-foot, six-inch bed with drop-down armrests that allow for easier access and more sleeping space.

The new  Business Class offers ergonomically-advanced seat design. The new, highly adjustable, lie-flat seat allows passengers to customize the setting to their personal preference. Business Class Chinese passengers also will have convenient access to a number of amenities, including gourmet food, in-flight entertainment and power ports in every seat.

“American Airlines wants simply to offer the best service between China and the US”, said Mr Lee.

According to China Elite Focus analysts, it is crucial for the airlines to market their brand in China as luxury brands rather than to try to be the cheapest airline. American Airlines has choosen the appropriate strategy when they insist on the quality of their service and want to be seen by the Chinese travelers as a luxury brand among the other airlines.

Also, American Airlines has partnerships in the US with  more than one thousand hotels, resorts that gives to Chinese travelers a wide choice of business and leisure destinations in the US.

Interview conducted in Shanghai by Pierre Gervois, China Elite Focus Managing Partner & CEO, for the blog “Chinese tourists in America”

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