D/FW AIRPORT — The FAA said federal inspectors have stepped up surveillance of American Airlines and American Eagle, a practice regularly done with any airline set to enter bankruptcy.
"We will continue to monitor all areas of the operation — particularly maintenance programs and personnel, records and reporting systems, management of company and manufacturer manuals, training programs and spare parts inventories," said FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford in a statement.
Bankruptcy is a bold move that American Airlines has always successfully avoided — unlike its competitors.
"One of our last claims to fame is we were one of the last legacy carriers not to have gone through bankruptcy. It's a tragedy today that's no longer true," said Allied Pilots Association spokesman Scott Shankland.
With more than $4 billion in the bank, American said it intends to keep paying its bills, but must lower labor costs to be competitive.
That's what worries its pilots, flight attendants and mechanics.
"Bankruptcy always equals loss on somebody's point, and among the people who lose are the employees," Shankland said. "And the job at our union along with the other labor groups is to protect that as best we can."
An internal memo from the Allied Pilots Association warned at least four crew bases are likely to close next year: Boston, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, and San Francisco.
American Airlines said closing the San Francisco crew base had been discussed. A spokesman said it's too early to tell what else will happen as a result of bankruptcy.
If the crew bases closed in those cities, flights likely would not be affected; the company simply wouldn't station pilots in those cities any longer.
American Airlines said it remains committed to its five main hubs — New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles.
But it's still uncertain what kind of airline will emerge.
"You know, it's a little hard to tell," said Stephen Stapleton, a Dallas-based bankruptcy attorney. "It could very well be like Delta or Northwest; they could merge with somebody else. It could be they'll be smaller than they are today. It could be they'll come through relatively unscathed. It's really to early to tell."
Stapleton said he represents two of American's creditors, though he wouldn't reveal which ones. He said he expects it to be four or five months until parent company AMR Corp. files its official reorganization plan, spelling out what it intends to cut or keep.
News 8 has also learned that AMR's outgoing CEO Gerard Arpey isn't leaving the company with a "golden parachute." AMR said he will not receive a severance or an exit bonus since he voluntarily decided to retire.
Arpey, 53, will be eligible for his regular retirement when he turns 55, a spokesman said.