American Airlines files for bankruptcy, local impact limited - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

American Airlines files for bankruptcy, little impact expected locally

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The parent companies of American Airlines and its regional affiliate American Eagle have filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection.

AMR Corp. and AMR Eagle Holding Corp. said Tuesday they filed voluntary petitions to reorganize to reduce costs and debt. The company is looking to remain competitive in light of high fuel costs and expensive labor contracts. American says it has spent at least $600 million more than other airlines because of labor contract rules.

It was the only major U.S. airline that did not file for bankruptcy protection after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

American is the nation's third largest airline. The company said it would continue to operate flights, honor tickets and take reservations. It also said it's frequent flyer program would remain unaffected.

The company may cut its flight schedules during the reorganization. American Eagle serves both the Eastern Iowa Airport and the Dubuque Regional Airport. Pam Hinman with the Eastern Iowa Airport says they learned of the filing on Tuesday morning and have not been notified of any schedule changes. Dubuque Regional Airport officials have also received no notice of schedule changes.

The Department of Transportation is currently looking at bids for service at airports across the country, including the Waterloo Regional Airport. Currently Delta and American have submitted bids for the Waterloo Airport. Waterloo Airport Director Bradley Hagen says they have been told the bankruptcy filing will have no impact on American operationally and it does not impact their bid. A decision on the bids is expected within the next three weeks.

While several airlines serve Cedar Rapids, American Eagle is the only commercial carrier in Dubuque.

Dubuque's airport manager Robert Grierson said Tuesday the American Airlines news doesn't worry him.

"No, I don't see any change in their intention or plan to continue to serve Dubuque," he said. "We shouldn't see any change in terms of flights, in terms of use of their frequent flyer miles, reservation system, even pricing should all be the same."

American Eagle has, generally, between three and five flights per day out of Dubuque, depending on the season.

Although American Eagle currently flies only to Chicago, from Dubuque, "We are negotiating with them on opening up a different hub," Grierson said - one in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Despite the bankruptcy news, Grierson said, his airport plans to continue those talks.

High winds in the Windy City Tuesday delayed the mid-morning American Eagle flight from Dubuque to Chicago.

Passenger Jeremy Maus waited for the flight in the airport's restaurant. He was traveling home to Massachusetts after spending Thanksgiving with family in Dubuque.

He said he learned of the bankruptcy news Tuesday morning through an e-mail from American Airlines.

"That's not unheard of in these kind of economic times, and that might be good or bad. I mean, usually when you hear the word, 'restructuring,' yeah, you kind of cringe," he said.

Still, Maus said, "I'm not really concerned about it."

He'll continue visiting his family in Dubuque via the American Eagle flights, he said.

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