American Airlines CEO: Airlines Have ‘Undergone a Terrible Year’

(CN) – American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said Saturday there are already a number of issues surrounding the airline that he said has prompted many management changes. Parker, in an annual holiday interview with…

American Airlines CEO: Airlines Have ‘Undergone a Terrible Year’

(CN) – American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said Saturday there are already a number of issues surrounding the airline that he said has prompted many management changes.

Parker, in an annual holiday interview with USA Today published Sunday, also said there’s a problem with how the airline fills seats, and he promised to continue to invest in the firm’s ground operations to avoid bumping people off planes.

“There’s a lot of stuff we need to work on,” Parker said. “This has to be one of the worst years in the history of American. It really has.”

Parker continued, “Management’s under enormous pressure to get it right. There’s no one to blame other than us. There’s no excuses. And I hope the pressure doesn’t make it worse.”

The American Airlines chief also admitted the company needs more to work out with pilots.

“It’s our fault,” Parker said. “The carrier was out-negotiated. I don’t expect a 2 percent increase in pay, but I do expect a fair, negotiated settlement.”

On Dec. 21, American Airlines canceled roughly 400 flights to clean out luggage after a major computer outage prompted hundreds of passengers to lose their bags during a holiday weekend.

Parker told USA Today he was “deeply disappointed” in the airline’s “low communication,” and that he’s working with key stakeholders to avoid such a fiasco happening again.

American Airlines also has been under fire for new security policies that, many passengers say, have been scaring them off flights due to the amount of pat-downs required.

Parker said flight attendants would not be let off the job for violating the new security procedures, or for making changes without being notified. The CEO also said he thought the pat-downs themselves would be a deterrent for passengers.

“I disagree with the thought that if we remove these things, we will see a bump in passengers,” Parker said. “I’m sure there are people who don’t want to go through a security pat down, and that’s one of the reasons why they go. But will it increase customer satisfaction? I don’t know. That’s somebody else’s choice.”

Parker’s interview with USA Today comes days after American Airlines ground crews and their union members staged a walkout for several hours Saturday morning.

The 13,500 American Airlines ground workers went on strike after contract negotiations and contract settlements reached last week have been unable to meet with both sides.

The new contract negotiated last week only addressed some of the issues the employees had been pressing for, including a pension plan that the labor contract calls for the airline to put into a 401(k) plan.

All Transportation Worker Union locals went on strike on Saturday morning, however, only affecting flights within the continental United States.

The nation’s largest airline company has projected that it will spend $1.7 billion more on employee salaries and other compensation in 2019, but still will make no profit this year.

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