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Ugly American: seats come loose on ‘Kafkaesque’ Qantas partner

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 3, 2012

American is locked in a labour dispute with its pilots. (AA)

Passenger seats have come loose during three American Airlines flights in the last week as the bankrupt carrier continues to flail away on the North American end of its code sharing alliance with Qantas.

The airline blamed the problem on improperly installed clamps and said it was inspecting 47 of its Boeing 757 aircraft in which the clamps had recently been installed. No one was reported injured on any of the flights during which the seats came loose.  The FAA is also investigating.

American, mired in a labour dispute with its pilots and having recently cut 11,000 jobs, ruled out sabotage as the cause of the problem. The Transport Workers of America, which represents the airlines maintenance staff, said the seat clams had been installed by an outside contractor and blamed the problem on outsourcing of maintenance work.

American claimed it would be “business as usual” when it filed for bankruptcy protection last year in what was seen as a move intended to force concessions from labour unions. Though other unions have agreed to cuts, American’s pilots have held out and in September began a program of slow-downs that saw American’s on-time rating slump to around 50 per cent. That, in turn, had led to a parade of headlines in the US media describing the passenger experience on American as ‘Kafkaesque’ and advising, ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Fly American Airlines.’

None of that is good news for Qantas, which relies on American to take its passengers beyond the three mainland US cities Qantas flies to directly. By the same token, however, there’s not much Qantas can do about it, and American’s struggles apparently haven’t stopped Emirates from pursuing its own tie-up with the beleaguered airline.


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