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Lost in the shuffle of bankruptcy, a new livery, shedding slots, union battles, and other merger challenges at American Airlines has been a slightly less important issue but still one worthy of discussion: Who could rescue the airline’s in-flight magazines?
American announced this morning that it has hired Ink Global to manage three titles: the flagship American Way, the business- and first-class title Celebrated Living, and the Spanish- and Portuguese-language Nexos.
Ink publishes multiple titles for airlines, hotels, and railroads, including United, Eurostar, EasyJet, Wizz, and Thomas Cook. In addition to sticking them in setbacks, the magazines are available on its website as digital downloads as well.
In a statement Michael Keating, EVP Product and Business Development, Ink said, “Winning the largest airline in the world in our twentieth year of business is the ultimate accolade. We’re really looking forward to re-imagining and re-launching the magazines to create titles that will set new media standards in the travel industry. What’s exciting is the multi-platform reach for our content which can be read in print versions onboard and throughout the global network of lounges, but also via online, tablets, and mobile. We really will be reaching passengers at every point of their journey.”
Prior to the Ink deal, American had its own in-house publishing team AA Publishing handle editorial duties for its three titles, while using Ink rival Spafax for some advertising sales. Under the agreement, Ink will open offices in Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami to handle editorial and sales duties for the publication.
The in-flight magazine for US Airways, which had in recent years become an advertorial-stuffed pamphlet, will cease operating in December.
Antonio Estrella, Chief Marketing Officer at Ink, said the specifics of staffing and all the digital products are still in process: “There are a lot of things that are still in discussion. But one thing is clear that they brought us in because we can launch the magazines with the Ink touch.” American Way’s executive editor Adam Pitluk is one of the confirmed staffers remaining.
“It’s not only ‘let’s get Ink to help with magazines, but more strategic,” Estrella says. “How can American be on par with the best of travel media and what consumers and advertisers expect today? It requires thinking about both things from a multi-platform approach: magazines, online, tablets, and smartphones.”
The first new issue of American Way will appear in January. A rebuilt Americanway.com will arrive at the same time.