American airlines says demand for flights to and from Hong Kong has fallen less than expected, despite a prolonged period of unrest in the city that has led to widespread weakness in the airline industry, Hong Kong's south China morning post reported.
American airlines plans to make Hong Kong the first Asian city to expand its corporate frequent-flier program, driven by strong business travel demand, underscoring its confidence in the city amid the turmoil.
More than four months of violent demonstrations have severely affected Hong Kong. Some foreign airlines have cut their routes or flights to Hong Kong or switched to smaller planes as many travelers avoid the city. Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong airlines are doing the same, but American airlines are operating as usual.
Shane Hodges, managing director of Asia Pacific sales at American, said: "we are in the Asia Pacific for the long term and there are parts of the world where things don't necessarily go our way but we are still investing here."
"We know what's going on in Hong Kong, but that doesn't mean we're going to stop."
American says its Business Extra corporate frequent-flier program is targeting the Hong Kong market and expects to sign up thousands of local small and medium-sized companies to supplement its corporate contracts. American thinks it has a chance to win a bigger share of the market as other Air China divisions shrink their operations in Hong Kong.
At present, American airlines has a daily flight from Dallas fort worth and Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
When it comes to American airlines' performance, Hodges is optimistic. "It's far from what we expected, but it's doing better than we thought," he said.
Source: civil aviation resource network