American Express Plans to Open More Airport Lounges

Skift Take

The American Express-American Airlines airport lounge deal was a victim of airline consolidation. There’s little need to partner with an airline, though, if Amex can build its own lounges at the airports. It’s a work in progress, and we’ll see how the experiment works out.

— Dennis Schaal

Faced with the pending loss of Platinum cardholders’ free access to American Airlines and US Airways airport lounges in March 2014, American Express plans to open new lounges at LaGuardia and San Francisco airports.

These will be in addition to American Express Centurion lounges that the airline is currently operating in McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

American Airlines decided to drop American Express Platinum cardholders’ free lounge access in favor of the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard.

American Express CFO Jeffrey Campbell, speaking during the company’s Q4 2013 and full year earnings conference call this afternoon, confirmed plans to continue with this “experiment” of Amex building its own airport lounges for cardholder access.

In other news Campbell said the sale of its publishing arm, including Food & WineTravel+LeisureDepartures, and Executive Travel, to Time Inc. had a 1% negative impact on Amex’s $8.5 billion in total revenue in the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter results showed that Amex’s U.S. consumer leisure travel business took a hit. Global business travel sales increased 4% in the first quarter, and U.S. consumer travel sales dropped 5%. Travel commissions and fees fell 2% to $491 million in the fourth quarter.

Campbell said Amex hopes to get a profit lift if it successfully concludes talks to form a joint venture for its global business travel business with private investment firm Certares. Certares and its partners would contribute $700 million to $1 billion to the 50-50 joint venture, while Amex would kick in the assets of American Express Global Business Travel.

Campbell said if the joint venture negotiations are fruitful, his best estimate is that the deal would close in the second quarter of 2014.

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