Problems Facing American Airlines

American Airlines is the forth-largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenues and carrying capacity. It is one of the biggest airlines in North America with its hubs in Dallas: Fort Worth International Airport (the largest), New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Currently, the airline operates extensive international and domestic networks in North America, South America, Europe, the Caribbean Islands, and Asia.

Despite being the largest airline in North America, American Airlines faces a number of problems. One of the problems, and the most recent one, is the financial crisis. The airline filled bankruptcy protection last year in late November under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Protection Act. Reports indicate that the airline’s parent company has debts of over US$29.6 billion (£19 billion) (Smith, 2011). According to Smith (2011), the airline is reported to have attributed its financial problems to the current global economic uncertainties, especially the rising fuel costs. However, the airline is in the process of restructuring its debt structure in order to reduce its debt costs.


In addition, given the current global economic financial crisis, which started after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2009, the airline has been facing hard economic times. According to Smith (2011), the global financial crisis has led to increased costs of energy, as well as increased operating costs for many airlines. The airline has experienced these problems since the year 2009. It has been unable to solve its economic problems due to the inability to increase flight charges to its customers: in order to remain competitive in the market.

Another problem facing American Airlines is security problem. The greatest security problem that the airline has faced since its establishment is the September 11 attacks. Suicide bombers hijacked two of its aircrafts and one of them was crashed into the Pentagon building in Washington DC, while the other one was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Since the occurrence of these events, the airline has tried to increase its security measures. Despites its efforts to strengthen its security measures, the airline has been reported to experience a number of security hitches such as bomb scares in some of its hubs and during flights. For instance, on December 7, 2005, a passenger was found to have entered one of its aircrafts headed to Orlando from Medellin with a bomb in his bag (Murray, 2011).

Technological challenge is yet another problem being faced by the airline (Murray, 2011). Currently, the rate of technological advancement is increasing very rapidly. The current security threats being experienced by airlines require the use of sophisticated technology in detection and prevention. Due to the current financial crisis that the airline is facing, it has been unable to make enough investment in the current technology, which helps to fight security threats. Such new technologies include biometric identification.

American Airlines is also facing environmental problems. It has been named as one of the greatest contributor of air pollution through noise, gas, and particulates emission, which contribute to climate change. The airline is the forth-largest airline in the world; it has been referred to as the forth-largest air pollutant in the aviation industry (Murray, 2011). This comes even after numerous efforts by the airline to maintain a clean environmental record.

Finally, the airline has been facing numerous engineering problems. The airline has a record of engineering-related problems, since its establishment in 1930. Some of the current engineering-related problems include the June 2, 2006 incident whereby its aircraft, Boeing 767-223ER, suffered a catastrophic engine failure at Los Angeles International Airport, and the August 5, 2011 incident where its Boeing 767-300’s landing gear brake caught fire while landing at O’Hare International Airport (Murray, 2011).