Less than two weeks after American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights to inspect its fleet of MD-80 aircraft, Tuesday the airline canceled 500 flights to inspect the same aircraft. "This is the same fleet and part of the same issue we had two weeks ago,” American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said.
Dallas, Chicago most affectedAmerican Airlines is once again reinspecting how the wire bundling on the aircraft is taped and spaced. "There is also a question of whether the bracket that holds the bundle at the wheel-well should face the front or the back,” Wagner said. He said the airline's hubs in Chicago and Dallas were the most impacted by the cancellations. Will Rogers World Airport had three canceled departures to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Tuesday. Tulsa International Airport had one cancellation to Chicago and another cancellation from DFW. Wagner said the cancellations would likely cross over into today. "We're crossing our fingers and hoping we're not impacted, but it's anyone's guess,” said Jennifer James McCollum, spokeswoman for Tulsa International Airport. American Airlines will accommodate travelers on other flights. Travelers should check www.aa.com for flight status.
Tightened inspectionsWagner said an FAA inspector checked several planes Monday and found that some of the work performed last month didn't meet standards. American operates about 2,300 daily flights. Wagner said 185 flights had already been canceled by late afternoon at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where American often uses MD-80s. The FAA has tightened inspections of planes at all U.S. carriers since the agency came under fire for letting Southwest Airlines Co. fly planes that had missed safety inspections. American and Delta Air Lines Inc. canceled flights in late March to perform wiring-related inspections and repairs. Wagner said the latest grounding of flights was due to "very detailed and technical compliance” with instructions that American gave its mechanics last month. Wagner said the company started pulling planes out of service in midafternoon. The work may last just 10 to 20 minutes per plane but could take longer if wiring needs to be rebundled, he said. It is "quite possible” that the work and flight cancellations could stretch beyond today, he said. In a statement issued by the airline, Chief Executive Officer Gerard Arpey said, "We regret and apologize that we are once again causing inconvenience to our customers.” American's parent, AMR Corp., is set to report first-quarter earnings in two weeks, and analysts are forecasting a loss of more than $300 million, according to a survey by Thomson Financial. Jamie Baker, an analyst with JPMorgan, said in a note to clients that he expects airline revenue to decline significantly beginning in the second quarter because of costly fuel and a possible recession. Contributing: Associated Press
Tail sections of two American Airlines MD-80 aircrafts sit above ground-crew workers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, last month. Associated Press