American Airlines to embark on UK drive

American Airlines is to run its biggest marketing campaign in the UK since the 11 September attacks to establish itself as the leading airline servicing routes between the UK and US.

The carrier, which has struggled to recover from the impact of the terror attacks, is spending more than £5m on the activity.

It has signed up Sopranos star James Gandolfini to front a multimedia ad campaign, including TV and press, that breaks next week and will run until Christmas.

The ads illustrate how the airline can cope with the most demanding of passengers - in this case, New Yorkers - and has the endline 'We fly more New Yorkers than any other airline. If we can keep them happy ...'.

The activity, created by McCann-Erickson London, marks the first time in several years that the airline has run a UK-specific campaign, rather than adapting US work.

American Airlines' rivals, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, currently dominate the transatlantic air routes, although fares on the US carrier are often less expensive.

American Airlines is currently upgrading its fleet and introducing flat-beds to better compete in the business-class market. It already claims to offer better leg-room than most of its rivals.

Like all major carriers, American Airlines has been hit by rising fuel prices, but it is pressing ahead with its plans in the UK, which it views as a major expansion opportunity.

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