Problems with inspections of wiring bundles on MD-80s kept American canceling flights for the second day in a row. American offered $500 vouchers and payment for meals and hotels for those passengers who are delayed overnight.
American is expected to take a big hit on this financially, and its shares dropped 11 percent today.
But American is not in the kind of trouble that killed Aloha, ATA and Skybus in short order last week. The Big Six airlines – American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and USAir – are all thought to have enough financial reserves and backing to make it through another dose of economic turbulence.
And Southwest, the low-cost airline that carried more passengers in 2007 than any other airline in the world, is also in relatively good shape.
The International Herald Tribune tackled the delicate question of which airlines might not make it through some more bad times and came up with a couple of possibilities that have been mentioned elsewhere: AirTran, Frontier and Virgin America. It also threw in Mesa, the regional carrier based in Phoenix that has suffered a series of setbacks, including the loss of a big contract with Delta.
Ironically enough, competition from the Mesa subsidiary go! helped to drive Aloha Airlines out of business. Should Mesa go down and take go! with it, struggling Hawaiian Airlines will suddenly have a near-monopoly in the islands.