April 9, 2008
American Cancels 1,000 More Flights for Inspection
By JEFF BAILEY
Passengers on American Airlines found themselves facing confusion and long delays on Wednesday after the carrier canceled more than 1,000 flights, as its efforts to inspect and in some cases reattach wiring bundles in the wheel wells of its 300-plane fleet of MD-80s dragged on.
More cancellations are expected Thursday.
Moving to head off any loss of confidence in its safety procedures, American said it planned to hire an outside contractor to review its compliance with airworthiness directives from the Federal Aviation Administration.
“This work will ensure that all procedures strictly adhere to the technical elements of every directive so American can avoid this type of schedule disruption in the future,” the carrier said in a written statement.
The F.A.A. grants airlines much autonomy to fix and inspect planes, reviewing and auditing work after the fact. But in recent weeks it became clear that some airlines had not kept up with all the work. At least 500 flights were canceled Tuesday.
208 flights canceled at Dallas/Fort Worth, 138 scrubbed at O’Hare International in Chicago; 33 at LaGuardia in New York; 28 at St. Louis; and 20 in Austin, Tex. The MD-80 is a 172 passenger plane in normal configuration.
172,000 stranded by American Airlines because they deferred maintenance until the FAA shoved it down their throat. American estimates another 500 flights will be canceled tomorrow, but perhaps they'll get to some of those passengers to wave them off.
Waved off to where?
Competitors, no doubt. So, American Airlines, one of the so-called legacy airlines is in the middle of outraging a couple hundred thousand of their passengers. All because an overpaid, stock-optioned, coddled and golden-parachuted CEO decided to take the short-term solution to a long-term cost--safety maintenance.
(Washington Post) CEO Gerard J. Arpey spent much of the (Annual meeting) session fending off questions from irate employees. After agreeing to accept massive pay cuts in recent years to keep American flying, the employees said they were upset that the carrier's top officers have been given stock-based bonuses worth millions of dollars. One employee at the meeting called Arpey and other executives "arrogant, greedy, selfish and heartless individuals."
. . . During American's annual stockholder meeting, Arpey said that the $160 million in stock awards given to top executives and managers was a motivational tool that helped keep the carrier out of bankruptcy.
That was no doubt a key motivational tool--the one that led to 170,000 (and counting) American Airlines passengers struggling to reorganize their lives.
If we ever do get the fast, comfortable and efficient rail transportation in this country that this century provides to other industrialized nations, it will be largely due to the deregulated bungle that poses as an airline industry. When and if that day comes, the likes of Gerry Arpey will take a bow.
And it can't happen soon enough.