Aviation

American Airlines embarks on agent mission

Anne Majumdar

Growing awareness of American Airlines’ product and network among travel agents is the top priority for the carrier as it beds down its new Los Angeles-Sydney service, its local head of sales has confirmed.

The airline commenced the new route in December, as part of its strategic partnership with Qantas, using new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and implementing a raft of changes designed to enhance its appeal in the Australian market.

General manager sales Australia and New Zealand Simon Dodd told Travel Weekly that the airline’s local team has been “built completely around the trade” with members of staff specifically appointed to focus on building face-to-face relationships with travel agents, to manage TMC relationships, with a strategic account manager also in place to lead head office relationships with the major chains.

“So we’re very trade-friendly,” he said. “I guess the number one thing is getting awareness out there of our product and all of the different changes, and explaining that we’re not just Sydney to LA, but that we are 70 destinations from LA.”

Dodd is also keen to get the word out about the airline’s connections from Dallas Fort Worth, which is currently served by Qantas.

“The focus now is on having a strategic relationship with the trade from a contractual level down to empowering consultants to understand how to sell and what’s different about us,” he said.

“We want them to feel like they want to sell our product – that’s cultural and that takes time and we understand that.”

AA has embarked on a program of learning and development activities in partnership with Qantas, and famils will also play a key role as will webinars and podcasts.

“LA and New York are really popular but there are so many more places in the US which are great value for money destinations as well,” Dodd continued.

“I think it’s really important to get that message out.”

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