If American Airlines chief executive officer Gerard Arpey plans to fall on his sword, he has certainly started to sharpen it. Arpey took full responsibility for the groundings of several hundred of the airline’s MD80s, groundings that stranded and inconvenienced thousands of passengers whose flights were cancelled for safety inspections. “It’s my fault. I run the company,” Arpey told reporters in a hastily convened press availability. “I have taken full personal responsibility.”
The strandings, groundings and passenger-re-accommodations will cost the airline “in the tens of millions,” he said, acknowledging that the airline’s investors will be “interested” in the costs. And so will be the travelling public, who have filled the airwaves, Internet and that old-fashioned thing, the newspaper, with their anger. But it’s not likely that people will be sending this American postcard (above, left) with any kind of warm greeting.
The travellers’ complaint is that the airline, which boasts about its automatic notification services that send flight-delay information straight to your Blackberry, PDA or cell phone, didn’t tell ‘em nothing. Arpey (seen here in better days) said, “The dynamics on how to manage through that have not been perfect. I acknowledge we have significantly inconvenienced thousands of people. We are offering them whole refunds, putting them on other American Airlines flights. We are profoundly sorry we’ve gotten ourselves into this situation.”