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American Airlines stumbles on path to recovery

October 12, 2012 • Business


FILE-In this Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, file photo, over 200 American Airline pilots march on a picket line at O’Hare International in Chicago, Ill. Just weeks ago, American Airlines was working its way through bankruptcy court, on schedule for one of the fastest turnarounds in aviation history, but then, domestic traffic fell by 7.1 percent in September from the same month a year earlier. No other major airline experienced a drop like that. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, FIle)

DALLAS (AP) — Just weeks ago, American Airlines was working its way through bankruptcy court, on schedule for one of the fastest turnarounds in aviation history. Planes were full. Revenue was pouring in. Then seemingly overnight, American became the butt of jokes from Facebook to late-night TV.

A slowdown that American blamed on pilots caused massive delays and cancellations. Then rows of seats came loose on a few planes. Passengers wondered if they’d get where they were going on time — and in one piece.

“American Airlines has a new slogan,” Jay Leno joked on NBC’s “The Tonight Show.” ”Your seat is free to move about the cabin.”

Some travel experts advised booking on other airlines to avoid getting stranded on American. Low-cost rival Spirit Airlines picked on American with this ad: “We let low fares loose, not seats.”

American’s on-time record fell well below its competitors, and its cancellations were the highest of any airline. There are signs that the trouble — which began in September when American threw out the union contract of its pilots — is causing passengers to switch. Domestic traffic fell by 7.1 percent in September from the same month a year earlier. No other major airline experienced a drop like that.

Thomas W. Horton, CEO of American and parent AMR Corp., acknowledges that a few weeks in September were “very difficult on our customers.” American has said Login to read more

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