AMR chief takes blame for recent airline turbulence


After American Airlines’ third straight day of cancellations totaling nearly 2,500 flights and the grounding of 300 MD-80 jetliners for additional safety inspections, Chief Executive Gerard Arpey said during a press conference on April 10 that he took responsibility for the situation and he expressed his profound sorrow for the stress it has caused passengers.

“We’re doing everything we can to accommodate our customers,” Arpey said, adding the airline expects to have all MD-80s back in service by April 12.

The most recent trouble at the Fort Worth-based carrier began when the Federal Aviation Administration ordered American to re-inspect wiring in its fleet of MD-80s.

“We obviously failed to complete this airworthiness directive to the precise standards of the FAA. I take full, personal responsibility for our being in this situation,” Arpey said.

Arpey said American mechanics are not to blame for the problem, and he did not criticize the FAA. He said the company had asked the FAA if it could avoid grounding the planes to make the inspections, but the request was denied.

“I am in no way being critical of the FAA,” said Arpey. “The FAA has always held airlines to strong safety standards…”

Arpey said it was too early to estimate the financial hit his airline will take, but said it would likely run into the tens of millions of dollars.

Instead, he said the airline is focusing on accommodating customers and trying to stay ahead of the problem.

The company said delayed passengers can either get a full refund or apply the value of their ticket toward future travel on American Airlines. Most customers, Arpey said, will receive a $500 travel voucher to cover expenses.

Last month, the FAA fined Southwest $10.2 million for flying planes that missed inspections.