A bad day at the office greeted the 9,000 area employees of American Airlines Tuesday as the carrier, Miami's 4th largest private employer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection along with parent company AMR Corp.
American was the only U.S. legacy airline that had never filed for bankruptcy protection, taking our innocence along with our peanuts as it voluntarily filed petitions to reorganize and replaced CEO Gerard Arpey with president Thomas Hornton.
Though based in Fort Worth, American has long dominated Miami's jobscape, trailing only fellow private companies UM, Baptist Health, and Publix in the hiring of local employees. With roughly 300 flights out of Miami International Airport, the carrier is also one of Miami-Dade's largest indirect employers with operations supporting other businesses at the airport and beyond.
American has said it will continue normal flight operations during its reorganization -- frequent flier miles are safe, too -- but Horton indicated the company will probably reduce the flight schedule "modestly," according to the Associated Press, with corresponding cuts in jobs.
In October, as trading of AA stock was stopped on the New York Stock Exchange when it fell up to 40 percent, local staff told NBC Miami that talk inside the company was increasingly of bankruptcy.
That chatter increased as negotiations to reduce labor costs stalled in recent weeks. Though Horton said Tuesday that multiple issues led to the filing, pilots were clearly bracing for cuts in wake of the news.
"While today's news was not entirely unexpected, it is nevertheless disappointing that we find ourselves working for an airline that has lost its way," said union president Dave Bates in an email to fellow pilots.