Posted on September 18, 2012 at 9:55 PM
Updated today at 10:31 PM
DALLAS â" Flight cancellations and delays continued for a third consecutive day at American Airlines, angering customers and prompting some to promise never to return.
âThis is my last time Iâll fly American,â Julie Line insisted after American canceled her flight from Kansas City to Dallas.
âIt was a disaster,â she said while trying to board a flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. âNot very pleasant.â
The Fort Worth-based carrier said it will cut its schedule for the rest of September and October by up to 2 percent due to âa number of factors,â including staffing troubles with its pilots, according to the airline.
âThe schedule adjustments we are implementing will ensure we provide our customers with reliable service while minimizing any impact to their travel plans,â said airline spokeswoman Andrea Huguely in a written statement.
Over the past three days, the airline has been forced to cancel or delay hundreds of flights. On Tuesday, 54 flights had been cancelled by the evening. Overall, nearly half of the airlineâs flights have been delayed, according to flight tracking services.
The cancellations come a few days after American imposed new cost-cutting terms on its pilots â" including outsourcing more flying jobs to other airlines and terminating one of the pilotsâ retirement programs in November.
Pilots rejected more generous terms in the last contract offer from American, which has been under bankruptcy protection since November.
âThe pilots are very definitely putting a lot of pressure on American,â said Denny Kelly, an airline analyst and retired airline captain. âYou simply follow all the rules â" the federal rules, the company rules, the union rules â" and by doing that, you can almost shut the airline down.
Allied Pilots Association spokesman Tom Hoban said Monday that the union neither sanctioned nor supported a sickout.
âThat being said, youâve got 8,000 pilots that are witnessing a handful of senior executives at American Airlines that have chosen in a very deliberate manner to dismantle and destroy their profession,â Hoban said. âTo say that the pilots at AA are not happy would be the understatement of a lifetime.â
The timing could prove troubling for the carrier as passengers start to book their tickets for the holidays.
âPeople now are starting to shop for Thanksgiving,â said Rick Seany, with farecompare.com. âThey do have a choice, so these airlines need to get their act together.â
Meanwhile, other carriers, including Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, say they are paying attention to the developments at American.
âWe donât take any joy in that whatsoever,â Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told News 8 in an interview. He said his carrier isnât changing its capacity for now, but may make adjustments to schedules and routes depending on what American does.
âIf they do make some changes, then clearly weâll be in a position where we can respond, and probably have some opportunities we can pursue,â Kelly said.