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American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights through October

By Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Amid labor strife, bankruptcy proceedings and layoffs, American Airlines has canceled hundreds of flights through October.

The airline, whose parent company AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy last year, said it planned to reduce flight schedules for the rest of September and October 1 percent to 2 percent.

As of Thursday, the Fort Worth airline had canceled 281 flights this week, mostly in and out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The airline blames the cancellations and accompanying delays on an increasing number of calls for maintenance work filed by flight crews, a surge in pilots calling in sick and inclement weather around Chicago.

“Prior to the recent issues, American had been running a good operation, with on-time performance and reliability measures at their best levels in many years,” American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks said. “The recent disruptions are primarily due to the significant increase in maintenance write-ups by our pilots, many right at the time of departure.”

The cancellations are only the latest problem for one of the nation’s largest airlines.

American recently won a bankruptcy court judgment enabling it to throw out its union contract with pilots, who picketed Thursday outside Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The airline also announced recently that it was sending 11,000 layoff notices to employees as part of a cost-cutting effort.

A spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, the union for American’s pilots, denied Wednesday that the pilots were taking part in any organized job action, including an increase in sick day requests.

Instead, Tom Hoban, a first officer at the airline, blamed many of the delays on an increase in calls for mechanical work, caused by a shortage of mechanics, a lack of spare parts and a fleet of planes that, on average, are the oldest in the industry.

In addition, he said, airline employees are frustrated with the cost cutting that has been proposed by American’s leaders.

“There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the leadership and what they have done in bankruptcy,” Hoban said.

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