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Markets that don't work we're going to step away from.
Just to cover the increase in fuel costs over the past two years, American would have had to raise fares nearly $75 per round-trip ticket. During this time period, our average fare increased by only $15.
I think in just about any business the low cost competitor is always going to have an advantage.
However, the economics of our business continued to deteriorate. We barely escaped bankruptcy a year ago, and in the aftermath of that escape we had to make some even tougher decisions.
First, we have to lower our costs to levels that are more competitive. This will prevent the lower-cost airlines from pushing us out of the markets we want to serve. We've made great progress on this front, but we need to keep pushing.
Despite the painful changes we have had to make, we continue to believe in the St. Louis market. And we are hoping to add flights, in a careful way, as the economics of our business improve and the demands of the traveling public in St. Louis become clear.
But I don't think the popularity of flying has diminished a bit.
But I definitely see us playing a major role in St. Louis in the years to come. We already provide service to 95 percent of the markets St. Louis travelers visit the most. And we're adding capacity in some of the most important markets.
At American Airlines, we have built a business around the love of travel that has lasted three quarters of a century. And I'm pretty sure we're just getting started.
This airline is grateful for his extensive contributions and we will miss his friendship and support. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Casey family on its personal loss.
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