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posted: 9/19/2012 7:02 PM

American cancels 300 flights this week

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  • American Airlines jets are parked at the various gates of Miami International Airport on Tuesday. In addition to sending layoff warning notices to more than 11,000 employees this week, the airline has canceled hundreds of flights this week because of pilot absences.

      American Airlines jets are parked at the various gates of Miami International Airport on Tuesday. In addition to sending layoff warning notices to more than 11,000 employees this week, the airline has canceled hundreds of flights this week because of pilot absences.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Associated Press

DALLAS -- American Airlines and American Eagle say they will cancel 300 flights this week to cope with a high number of pilots reporting sick and an increase in maintenance reports filed by crews.

That's 1.25 percent of the 24,000 flights that were scheduled by the two airlines, which are owned by AMR Corp.

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The two airlines had already canceled 249 flights this week by Wednesday afternoon, a flight-tracking service said, suggesting that cancelations might far exceed American's estimate.

AMR said Wednesday that it canceled the flights in advance to avoid inconveniencing passengers. Earlier this week, American said it would cut its schedule through the end of October by up to 2 percent.

American has seen an increase in flight cancelations since early this month, when a federal bankruptcy judge allowed the company to impose new pay and work rules on pilots. The pilots had rejected the company's last contract offer in August.

Each day this week, American has canceled more flights than any U.S. airline, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

By late Wednesday afternoon, American and Eagle had canceled 73 flights, more than the next five airlines combined. They canceled 104 flights on Tuesday and 72 flights on Monday, FlightAware said.

In a note to operations managers, American said it was telling frequent fliers why it's been experiencing cancelations and delays. It is letting customers fly standby for earlier flights at no extra charge, and giving crews more leeway to hand out light snacks to delayed passengers.

The company said it's also offering overtime and adjusting work schedules for reservations and airport employees, and is moving maintenance crews to where they are needed most.

AMR is trying to slash annual labor costs by about $1 billion as it reorganizes under bankruptcy protection. Eight of its nine union labor groups ratified cost-cutting contracts, with pilots the lone holdout.

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