ATA starts drive to distinguish itself from competitors

INDIANAPOLIS: American Trans Air (ATA) is linking fare promotions and a design overhaul to its 30th anniversary in a PR push designed to steal the spotlight back from low-cost competitors and draw more business travelers.

INDIANAPOLIS: American Trans Air (ATA) is linking fare promotions and a design overhaul to its 30th anniversary in a PR push designed to steal the spotlight back from low-cost competitors and draw more business travelers.

The Indianapolis-based airline unveiled new uniforms and livery, and announced the promotion, the Anniversary Travel Awards, at a news conference hosted by CEO George Mikelsons in Chicago last week. The promotion offers a free companion ticket to passengers booking three or more flights at the American Trans Air's website, ATA.com.

The activities come as part of a larger strategy to differentiate the airline from low-fare leader Southwest. Going forward, ATA's communications will emphasize the airline's assigned seating and flights to major airports. Southwest operates on a first-come, first-served seating basis and flies largely to secondary airports.

The revamped uniforms and livery were designed to cast off the carrier's association with leisure trips, and to give a more modern, sober look.

ATA has long been associated with cheap flights to vacation hot spots. In the late 1990s, however, the airline began to see more business passengers. With the slump in travel sapping revenues, ATA execs are eager to diversify their passenger base.

As part of its anniversary promotions, ATA also announced special fares as low as $30, a fare restructuring under which last-minute fares will be capped at a base fee of $299, and added flights to the Chicago-Midway and Indianapolis markets.

ATA is the nation's 10th largest airline by passenger miles.

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