Birmingham has a valuable new ally in the battle to promote the city in the US – in the shape of the world's largest airline group.
American Airlines will start flights to JFK Airport in New York on May 8, as work begins to attract more Americans to the region.
David Thomas, UK director of sales at American Airlines, said with the city boasting a strong business offer alongside top restaurants, shops and sporting attractions, it was a significant alternative to automatically flying to London.
His comments came just weeks after Birmingham Airport started promoting itself as "Shakespeare's Airport" in China – and Mr Thomas believes a similar approach could yield results stateside.
He said: "Speaking as an American, if you were to ask where Shakespeare was from most would probably say London. So we want to promote how great it is here.
"We have to show this is an alternative to London Heathrow. A lot of people are scared of Heathrow and Birmingham has a lot to offer.
"There needs to be some PR in the States to show how easy it is to get here. Part of the reason Americans don't think of Birmingham as a place they can get to is because of the flights.
"Hopefully now we have this service it will naturally progress as people see it as an opportunity."
He added: "You have a lot to offer here, with things like Shakespeare and cricket, it's just getting the message out.
"The message about Birmingham gets lost behind London but there are great restaurants here and lots to see. Part of what we are trying to do is promote Birmingham as an alternative to London."
American Airlines expects the new route to provide nearly 100,000 seats a year.
It will complement the existing route between Birmingham and Newark operated by United Airlines.
The flights also represent a return of sorts for British Airways (BA), as it will be operated as a code share. That means the two airlines will share in the profits, flights from Birmingham can be booked on the BA website and the flights allow customers to earn and redeem BA air miles and Avios points.
Mr Thomas added: "BA doesn't fly here but we have a close relationship with BA and doing this strengthens our relationship with them.
"If we make a profit on this then BA does as well, so they are just as interested in seeing this work as we are."
The American Airlines flight will operate daily, arriving from JFK into Birmingham at 7.10am and depart for the return leg at 10am.
Mr Thomas said he was confident in the market and believed the Birmingham flights give American Airlines reach to customers in the west of England and Wales.
He said on top of business travellers and New York visitors, people looking to travel to Orlando were a large market, although presently direct flights to Orlando were not on the agenda.
He added: "There is strong local demand for JFK and we think there is a hole in the market.
"We also see an opportunity for people getting to the west coast – especially LA and San Francisco with services on our A321 aircraft. There is also strong demand to get to Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas."
He added: "Every city is unique. The corporate base here is unique, so you'd expect a lot of corporate business out of Birmingham, whereas in Manchester there are also of people taking family trips out to the States. Birmingham is unique and for us you have to treat it so."