Sunday, January 27, 2013

Can Fashion Save American Airlines?

Kaufmanfranco designers Ken Kaufman and Isaac Franco attend the Kaufmanfranco Spring 2012 presentation during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week on September 7, 2011 in New York City.  (Source: Rob Kim/Getty Images North America)

I am the first one to admit that I am terrible at managing money, but I am perplexed by Dallas-based American Airlines recent series of moves. In late 2011, AMR filed for Chapter 11 and has been in and out of court ever since battling timelines for restructuring. So, how does AMR plan to bounce back and save itself? Here's the perplexing part...

On January 17, American Airlines officials debuted the carrier's new logo and plane exterior paint scheme to media, employees and other guests at an unveiling event at Miami International Airport.  On Friday, January 25 The FW Star Telegram reported that the airlines had hired fashion designers Ken Kaufman and Isaac Franco to redesign the company's uniforms. The duo's firm, KAUFMANFRANCO, has designed awards show outfits for several Hollywood stars, including Kim Kardashian at the 2011 Grammys. Model Camila Alves wore a revealing black gown designed by the duo to the Oscars in 2011. The year before, pop singer Taylor Swift wore one of their midnight blue, sequin-covered, off-the-shoulder gowns to the Grammy Awards.

If you were fighting for your life and trying to keep your company from going under, is this how you would spend millions of dollars? On a new logo and some flashy new outfits? What am I missing here?

According to Reuters, American Airlines and US Airways are finalizing a merger deal, which could come in two weeks. A combination with US Airways would create the world's largest airline and help the two carriers better compete with larger rivals United Continental Holdings Inc and Delta Air Lines Inc.

Does this "new image" come as a prelude to the merger and will lead both airlines into a new look for a newly formed company? Or is this a much needed boost to keep the AA relevant as they fight to survive? Discuss.