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American Airlines vows to bounce back from bankruptcy

Officials visiting L.A. say up to 20% more flights from the carrier's five most important hubs — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami — will be added once the airline emerges from bankruptcy.

February 13, 2012|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
  • American Airlines officials plan to order enough new planes over the next five years to transform one of the industrys oldest fleets of jets to the newest.
American Airlines officials plan to order enough new planes over the next… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

Passengers who fly American Airlines out of Los Angeles International Airport may feel uneasy about the future of the Fort Worth carrier because it filed for bankruptcy a few months ago and announced plans to lay off 13,000 workers.

But representatives of the nation's third-largest airline are touring the country trying to allay the fears of passengers and others by spreading the message that American will come out of bankruptcy stronger than ever.

Top American officials visited Los Angeles last week to tell reporters that, once the airline emerges from bankruptcy, it plans to add up to 20% more flights from its five most important hubs: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami.

Airline executives also unveiled plans to order enough new planes over the next five years to transform one of the industry's oldest fleets of jets to the newest.

"At the end of the day, our plans will allow us to return to the top of the heap," said Kevin Cox, American's vice president of state and community affairs.

As for the planned layoffs, Cox said high labor costs, an aging fleet and rigid union contracts had forced the company to "compete with one hand behind our backs."

By 2017, Cox said the airline hopes to save $2 billion annually by cutting labor costs, closing facilities and renegotiating contracts. It also believes it can add $1 billion in new revenue by offering better service on newer planes.

The message of hope and change was probably aimed at the airline's suppliers and customers, said corporate turnaround specialist James McTevia of Bingham Farms, Mich.

Suppliers and customers were probably shaken by the news of the bankruptcy, he said, and American probably was trying to persuade them to continue to work with and patronize the airline.

"The advertising and marketing that is going on is a tactic that many companies use that facilitates the best success of coming out of Chapter 11," McTevia said.

Most workers would go on dangerous trip if forced by boss

If your boss orders you to take a business trip to a dangerous location, would you refuse and risk losing your job?

In this unsteady economy, perhaps it's no surprise that only 23% of workers surveyed said they would refuse the assignment, with 21% saying they would go on the perilous trip but would refuse to go on the next trip.

About 14% said they would travel to an unsafe place for a work assignment but would look for a new job after returning, according to a telephone survey of 500 workers byOpinion Research Corp.in New York and commissioned by Chubb Group of Insurance Cos., which sells travel insurance services.

"Travel offers considerable economic opportunities to businesses but it also carries, at times, enormous and costly risks and liabilities ... for employees and their families," said Jim Villa, a senior vice president at Chubb.

Alaska Airlines begins serving Starbucks coffee

Starbucks recently announced the expansion of its massive caffeine-fueled empire to Norway, Morocco and even in the skies over North America.

This month, Alaska Airlines, based in Seattle, began serving Starbucks coffee to passengers free of charge.

For years the low-fare airline had served fliers hot joe from Seattle's Best Coffee, a smaller coffee brewer owned by Starbucks' parent company, Starbucks Corp. in Seattle.

Because Alaska Airlines has grown to serve 61 destinations — including new service this summer to Santa Barbara and Bozeman, Mont. — the carrier decided to switch to a coffee with national name recognition.

"We made a decision to go with the brand that is well known to our customers," Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said.

The move also was made to offer a consistent coffee experience for passengers who fly Horizon Air, a subsidiary owned by Alaska's parent company, Alaska Air Group. Horizon has been serving Starbucks for 22 years.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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