Global airlines focus more resources on the ground

Even as airlines cut back on routes in response to declining demand, many are bulking up their services on the ground, appealing to first-class passengers with newer, more luxurious airport lounges. "Ground is where you can really differentiate yourself," says an executive with Germany's Lufthansa, which is spending $190 million to upgrade its airport facilities around the world, including a new three-story lounge at JFK. "It's not about luxury, it's about the business traveler being productive," says American Airlines' Nancy Knipp, who is overseeing a push to revamp more than 75% of the carrier's worldwide airport lounges by the end of the year.

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