American Airlines Books $467 Million
Pension Contribution for 2018
BY MEAGHAN KILROY · FEBRUARY 21, 2018
American Airlines Group Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, expects to contribute $467 million to its pension plans in 2018, the company announced in its 10-K filed Wednesday.
Of the $467 million, $425 million is a discretionary contribution and $42 million is required. The company contributed $286 million to its pension plans in 2017.
As of Dec. 31, American Airlines had $11.4 billion in total defined benefit assets and $18.28 billion in benefit obligations for a funded status of 62.4%, up from 58.1% at the end of 2016. The 10-K did not provide a breakout of U.S. vs. international pension plans, but U.S. plan assets totaled $11.13 billion as of Sept. 30, according to Pensions & Investments data.
The discount rate used to calculate benefit obligations was 3.8% as of Dec. 31, down from 4.3% as of Dec. 31, 2016.
Also as of Dec. 31, the pension plans had an asset allocation of 63.3% equities, 23% fixed income, 13.1% alternatives, 0.4% dividend and interest receivable, and the remainder in cash and the net amount due to/from brokers for the sale of securities.
American Airlines indicated in the 10-K that temporary favorable funding rules expired at the end of 2017, and pension contributions are expected to "increase materially" starting in 2019 when fiscal year 2018 contributions are due.
Copyright Board Ruffles AA's Feathers
by Rejecting Logo Copyright Again
Bart Jansen, USA TODAY Published Jan. 30, 2018
Even after a go-around, American Airlines couldn’t clear the relatively low threshold to copyright its logo adopted in 2013, the U.S. Copyright Office’s review board has ruled.
“A mere simplistic arrangement of non-protectable elements does not demonstrate the level of creativity necessary to warrant protection,” Catherine Zaller Rowland, senior adviser to the register of copyrights, said in a five-page explanation called “the final decision in this matter.”
The airline already has the image trademarked, to prevent another U.S. carrier or tourism entity from using the image in its marketing. But a copyright would have offered longer and broader protection internationally, if it were approved. “We have reviewed the copyright office’s decision and are working to determine our next steps,” airline spokesman Matt Miller said.
American filed an application June 3, 2016, to register the logo. But a registration specialist refused the registration in a letter Oct. 4, 2016, by finding it “lacks the authorship necessary to support a copyright claim.”
American disputed that finding and requested a reconsideration in a letter Dec. 20, 2016. The airline argued that the logo “far exceeds the extremely low level of creativity required to sustain a copyright claim,” according to the letter from Andrew Avsec, an intellectual-property lawyer with Brinks Gilson & Lione.
He described the logo as having the trapezoidal shapes above and below the eagle’s head representing its wings, with flared edges. The shape is also meant to represent one leg of a capital A, to suggest an eagle in flight.
But after re-evaluating the request, the office again rejected it by concluding it “does not contain a sufficient amount of original and creative artistic or graphic authorship to support a copyright registration,” according to an April 12, 2017, letter from Stephanie Mason, an attorney-advisor.
American then filed a second request the same day as the rejection, with Avsec suggesting there was “significant modification” of the “underlying geometric shapes.” The carrier adopted the image after combining with U.S. Airways to become the world’s largest airline.