American Continues To Cut Flights, Sheds Revenue

04/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Huffington Post

Another day, another couple hundred of flights cancelled.

As the New York Times reports:

American Airlines, updating its effort to get the company's fleet of 300 MD-80 planes flying again, said it had canceled 922 flights so far on Thursday and was making progress inspecting and fixing wiring bundles in the planes' wheel wells.

Passengers waited in lines at an American Airlines ticket counter at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Wednesday.

The airline said 80 planes were back flying by Thursday morning, compared with 60 in service late Wednesday. By 4 p.m. Thursday, American said it expected to have 120 back in service, or 40 percent of the fleet, which is the airline's domestic work horse.

And by Friday night, American said it expected to have 180 in service with the entire 300 planes operating by Saturday night.

But American is facing scrutiny from more than just passengers. Notes the Associated Press:

Congress also weighed in Thursday. The FAA official who ordered the audits last month, Nicholas Sabatini, faced tough questions from a Senate subcommittee about the agency's lax oversight of airlines and his own accountability for recent breakdowns. The FAA noted that airlines had 18 months to complete the work on the MD-80s since the initial order was issued in September 2006.

From a financial perspective, Business Travel News Online adds:

American Airlines chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey, during a call with media today, said the financial hit of the service disruptions "will be in the tens of millions of dollars. Fortunately we have worked hard for a lot of years here to build our liquidity base and pay down a lot of debt."

But don't let the cancellations get you down. The Washington Post has advice for stranded passengers, as does MSNBC. Their four carry-aways:

-Check with your airline: When there's a major maintenance-related series of cancellations, the airline Web site is the first place you should turn for answers.

-Call your travel agent: Whether you booked your flight through a traditional travel agency or an online agency, the next place to go for help is a qualified travel professional.

-Know your rights: An inspection-related cancellation is considered a mechanical problem, as far as the contract goes. Under American Airlines' conditions of carriage -- the legal contract between you and the airline -- you're entitled to more than just a flight home.

-Flash your card: Here's something that isn't immediately apparent by reading an airline contract or even talking with your travel agent. There are travelers and there are travelers. Agents are authorized to offer more -- often, much more -- to frequent travelers or customers with special needs.