AAFES exploring plans to bundle TV, Internet, phone
February 1, 2006
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Army and Air Force Exchange Service wants to become the premier provider of telephone, cable television and Internet services for military customers, the organization’s deputy commander said Monday.
Army Brig. Gen. James Lewis Kennon, on a tour of Pacific bases, offered no time line for availability but said the package is a key element of the retailer’s future expansion plans.
“We’re looking at an integration of services, and we see us as the first choice for folks,” he said. “We want to provide quality service to our soldiers, airmen and Marines.”
Kennon also briefly discussed gasoline prices, the rising popularity of Internet shopping and AAFES’ push toward big name fast-food chains at overseas installations.
“Gas is always an emotional issue,” he said. “Like many Americans, freedom of driving and freedom of movement are important — whether you’re here, Korea or Texas. But it’s cheaper here than in Texas.”
Although AAFES unifies pricing across Europe, the United States and Asia, he said, Japan and Okinawa are in a unique situation because the host-nation government subsidizes a portion of fuel costs. The status of forces agreement enables U.S. servicemembers and their families to receive a built-in per-gallon reduction off the pump price.
AAFES adjusts prices monthly based on a Department of Energy average — by grade — from the previous month’s reports. It also factors in incremental dispensing costs, which can vary widely in each country.
Military customers are utilizing the AAFES Web site at www.aafes.com in increasing numbers, Kennon said, adding the company exceeded $1 million in online sales for 22 consecutive days during the holiday season.
He said AAFES continues to expand downrange, with more than 450 locations across Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Within the theaters, AAFES is frequently replacing Robin Hood and Anthony’s Pizza with Subway and Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut recently arrived at Yokota, and the base will open a Subway later this year.
“It’s all about familiarity and comfort,” Kennon said. “Give servicemembers the comfort food they want, make them feel more satisfied with their situations, and they might want to stay longer.”