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Skyward Strategies: American Airlines' Competitive Edge Over Delta

The airline industry is renowned for its cutthroat competition and ongoing challenges. In this article, we will delve into the effective utilization of competitive intelligence (CI) by American Airlines against Delta Airlines to gain a competitive edge. Until 2015, Delta Airlines was the leading airline, over American, United, and others. This article will explore American Airlines' strategies, partnerships, and how they adapted to evolving market conditions to solidify their market position.

Problem Identification

Delta Airlines poses a significant threat to American Airlines in the highly competitive airline industry. With its strong market presence, extensive route network, and reputation for excellent customer service, Delta has gained an edge over its competitors, including American Airlines. As a result, American Airlines faces fierce competition from Delta, requiring them to innovate and adapt to remain competitive in the market continually.

Competitive Intelligence Gathering

In mid-2014, American Airlines employed various methods to collect information about Delta Airlines, enabling them to compete more effectively in the market. American Airlines used primary sources such as implementing interviews with industry experts and running customer surveys, which was the backbone of developing American’s competitive strategy. They also utilized secondary research competitive intelligence practices such as monitoring and analyzing Delta's financial reports, studying their route networks, examining customer satisfaction ratings, and closely tracking their pricing and promotional strategies.

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This ad campaign highlights American Airlines' commitment to customer service, with the tagline "We Know Why You Fly." The ad features real passengers discussing hy they choose American Airlines, and how the airline has exceeded their expectations.

Identification of Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines offers numerous benefits to its customers, making it a preferred choice for many travelers. Firstly, Delta provides an extensive global network with an extensive range of destinations, allowing passengers to reach their desired locations conveniently. Secondly, the airline is renowned for its commitment to customer service, consistently receiving accolades for its attentive and friendly staff. Thirdly, Delta offers a robust frequent flyer program, Delta SkyMiles, which rewards loyal customers with various perks. American Airlines CI team evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Lufthansa Group. The CI team noted that Delta Airlines would likely pose the largest threat to American Airlines.

Partnerships and Collaborations

American Airlines has established strategic partnerships and collaborations that bring numerous customer benefits. Through its membership in the Oneworld alliance, American Airlines offers an extensive global network, providing passengers with access to a wide range of destinations and seamless travel experiences. The airline has also formed codeshare agreements with several other carriers, enabling passengers to book flights on partner airlines, expanding their travel options. These partnerships and collaborations contribute to a comprehensive travel ecosystem, enhancing the overall value and experience for American Airlines passengers.

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Another ad campaign from the "We Know Why You Fly." series. The ad features a family celebration, integrating the personal aspect to strategically position American Airlines as customer-centric. The ad also emphasizes American Airlines' strong domestic presence, leveraging its extensive network and hubs to provide convenient connectivity.

Market Analysis and Strategic Positioning

Through comprehensive research and analysis, American Airlines identifies market trends, customer preferences, and competitor strategies to make informed decisions. It focuses on route expansion, pricing strategies, and service enhancements to cater to evolving customer demands. American Airlines also emphasizes its strong domestic presence, leveraging its extensive network and hubs to provide convenient connectivity. By strategically positioning itself as a customer-centric airline with a focus on reliability and service quality, American Airlines aims to stand out in the market and compete effectively against Delta Airlines. American Airlines holds the largest market share in the airline industry, standing at 17.6% as of 2023 [Zippia].


American Airlines effective utilization of competitive intelligence (CI) against Delta Airlines has enabled them to gain a competitive edge in the airline industry. Through comprehensive CI gathering methods, strategic partnerships, and a customer-centric approach, American Airlines has successfully solidified its market position. With a 17.6% market share, American Airlines stands as a testament to the transformative impact of CI, showcasing the significance of ongoing analysis and adaptation in achieving sustainable success. This serves as a remarkable precedent for other industry players, emphasizing the value of strategic decision-making in the face of fierce competition.


This article is part of the larger series "The Game Changers," which delves into a collection of analytical pieces that explore the victories achieved through adept competitive strategies. The series aims to uncover the intricacies of these strategic triumphs and their influential role in shaping competitive outcomes.

Additional articles in the series:


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