American Airlines flies into stormy weather

Courtesy christianpost.com

IT’S the American story, so what’s new? Delta Airlines went through it, so did United Airlines, and now the focus is on American Airlines. It’s the wheel of misfortune making its rounds.

For American, it never rains but it pours. Parent AMR Corp is operating under bankruptcy protection. A takeover by USAir is on the cards, while American waits out for a better deal. There is the ongoing dispute between the airline and its pilots, resulting in delays and cancellations of flights. And now, the problem of loose seats that leads to the grounding of 48 Boeing 757-200s for repair of the faulty seat lock plunger mechanisms, resulting in more flight delays and cancellations. The problem was first discovered on September 27, and there’s been some finger-pointing with the Transport Workers Union, which represents American’s mechanics, pointing to work conducted by third-party maintenance provider TIMCO.

American’s vice-president of safety David L Campbell said the airline has used the same seats for 20 years without incident until now, so wear and tear is only to be expected, even resulting from soda spilled into the tracks and causing pins to pop out of the grooves. That should be a lesson for other airlines on the importance of a timely maintenance and renewal programme. However, American alleged that poor design was also contributory; Mr Campbell added: “The fundamental design of this seat is not as robust as some of the latest designs.”

American may suffer a temporary loss of passengers to other airlines. The thing about the American airline scene is that the lack of differentiation is unlikely to swing customer preference dramatically on a sustained basis. They are all riding the same merry-go-round.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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