American Airlines Struggles Scare Off Business Customers

Event professionals could face travel troubles with the airline, which has declined sharply in reliability in recent weeks because of mechanical, bankruptcy, and labor issues.

Among loose seats, numerous delays, and labor issues, American Airlines isn’t looking so sky-high these days. And business customers are noticing.

After weeks of flight cancellations and delays — some of which were caused by seats that literally came loose in flight — the airline’s passenger numbers are down sharply, falling 4 percent since last month, according to CNNMoney.

Many of those customers are any airline’s bread and butter — business customers who rely on an airline to get them to their destination on time.

After a period in which hundreds of flights were cancelled by the airline over worries about loose seats, many business customers are looking elsewhere.

“Some of my people have gotten really burned by some of the nonsense going on,” Jim Angleton, the president of AEGIS FinServ Corp., told CNN. “I can’t afford to allow the problems with the airline to affect my business.”

According to Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, this is the manifestation of a series of problems that could hurt the company in the long run. The airline filed for bankruptcy late last year and recently earned the right in court to break its labor contract with its pilots’ union.

As a result of this, American Airlines pilots allegedly started calling in flight issues with increasing frequency as a form of silent protest, leading to an increase in delays. The Allied Pilots Association disputes this description of events, however.

“American Airlines chose to reject our contract and the operational procedures and protections that go with it,” the group’s president, Keith Wilson, recently said in a statement. “Understandably, our pilots are taking a prudent and cautious approach in their operational decision-making process.”

Last week, the two sides went back to contract talks — a period that coincided with service improvements.

“Unfortunately, for a couple of weeks there, it was very difficult on our customers,” the company’s CEO, Tom Horton, told the Associated Press Monday.

As American Airlines struggles to right the ship, considering the recent labor troubles and delays, would you trust them with your important travel needs?

(photo by BriYYZ/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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