Cranky on the Web: The Mighty Hahn, American’s Delays

Tiny German airline a big player, thanks to interline dealsTravel Weekly
Hahn has a really unique business model, and this spells it out nicely. It’s a great way for agents to be able to book small airlines that don’t have global connectivity set up. I love that these guys exist.

‘We kind of couldn’t believe it:’ American passenger recounts 21-hour delay as airline strugglesUSA Today
American continues to be in the news for its operational problems. This time, Dawn Gilbertson at USA Today took a look. Her timing was great in that the day I spoke with her was one day after one of our Cranky Concierge employees got stuck on a maintenance delay that apparently wasn’t real. He told her his story, and we both made an appearance in the article.

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7 Responses to Cranky on the Web: The Mighty Hahn, American’s Delays

  1. David says:

    Worth mentioning that IATA insists an airline member actually operate some flights under its own AOC – this rule made life difficult for APG a couple of years ago

    The Dusseldorf-Luxembourg flight is great fun to do with Hahn Air – it’s remarkable how many people have done it on flightmemory.com !
    Flexflight also run a 1x weekly from Angelholm/Helsingborg to Roskilde – pointless for most passengers but great fun if you fancy a scheduled flight in a Cessna 172 on Starling Air; they used to do a similiarly useless flight from Augsburg to Salzburg instead
    APG Air seem to take a different approach, namely operating a flight that actually attracts real business travellers from Lorient to Toulouse; alas not quite so much fun as the other two flight…

  2. Fed Up says:

    I am an EXEXPLAT (which doesn’t mean a lot these days) and in the past 37 days I have had 3 flights cancelled and 7 delayed over 15 minutes. I understand bad weather and ATC delays. But like Senator Rubio when my flight was cancelled due to a problem with a flap AA “graciously” reserved a seat for me on a flight that took off 2 days later. But my original itinerary was a 1-day business trip. And when I called the AA desk they said there were not any open seats. So I took Delta, again. It dawned on me to start booking Delta more often. Greta flights for the most part.

    CF, with AA having the newest fleet of any domestic carrier why are they having so many MX issues (besides the so-called work slowdown? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

    • CF says:

      Fed Up – Well, it’s a lot of things. First, the 757s/767s/MD-80s are all old and have maintenance issues. Those only impact a small part of the fleet today (and the MD-80s go away in a couple months), but it can still have an impact. Those 767s in particular can gum things up when they break going over to Europe. Then there’s the issue of the MAX being grounded.
      American has removed move spares and has pushed utilization so that it can maintain more of its schedule despite the MAXs being gone. So that gives less margin for error when things do break. And then of course there’s the labor slowdown issue which is causing maintenance delays that might not otherwise stop a plane from going. There could be more underlying issues — American hasn’t been running a good operation in some time — but you add it up and it’s just a bad experience.

      • boricuafan says:

        How is Delta able to run such a great operation while also having the oldest fleet in the US with many of the same airplanes AA has issues with?

        • Tim Dunn says:

          you are absolutely correct. Delta has figured out how to run a diverse fleet of many different ages and do it more reliably. Delta has simply put a priority on being reliable and invests what is necessary to make that happen; they have calculated the cost of new aircraft vs. older aircraft even with those extra expenses for older aircraft. Delta spends less on maintenance AND FUEL even though American and Delta generate nearly identical amounts of revenue. American has accumulated tens of billions of dollars more debt than Delta and that debt costs about $700 million more per year in interest expenses for American than at Delta. Even if American and Delta generated the same amount of passenger revenue, American would have much lower bottom line profits because of the interest expense.

          It is also a mistake to blame all of the new airplanes on former American (AMR) management. American’s current management (Parker and Co.) have had five years to adjust the fleet plan and they have ditched some aircraft orders while ordering other types. They also allowed the 767-300’s conditions to deteriorate so badly that they are unreliable even though Delta and United both can and do keep those fleets running. Further, American has some 767-300ERs that are younger than some of Delta and United’s 767-400s.

          Labor discord is part of American’s problem – but American management has made a number of fleet related decisions that have only compounded the problems which maintenance has been expected to fix.

          Even when Kirby was still at AA, he touted adding the LAX-HKG flight because it could use essentially “free” aircraft time because of the amount of time the 777-300ER had to spend on the ground at HKG based on the optimal times for DFW-HKG. Maybe those 2 routes should be able to be serviced by interlocking schedules but I read more about problems due to maintenance on those two routes than any other route for any other US airline.

          The result is that more and more business passengers simply book away from American and their revenues deteriorate more, making their inflated costs even more of a problem

          We have heard this story before and it was called Eastern.

        • CF says:

          boricuafan – It really is a great question. I think there are a few things going on here. Delta has a strong TechOps organization that specializes in maintaining these fleets and their engines. They do this for other airlines, not just themselves. So there’s just a lot of internal expertise that helps them to fix things on the fly. But it’s more than that. Delta also has built more slack into the system. It has prioritized running a good operation and that means adding costs by padding blocks and keeping more spares. It’s a strategy that has worked for Delta.

  3. MC says:

    American has created this situation themselves. While bonus’ were being given out to the upper crust, the people who actually make the airline run got what? They could have resolved this issue before things got this bad. I was flying DFW to HKG in April. got on, several mechanical delays, departure time kept creeping by. about 2 hours later we had to get off the plane and wait for another one. the 2nd plane had mechanical issues and the Captain refused to fly it. departure was to be around 10a, by 8p it finally cancelled. I keep ship numbers of all the planes I fly….Checking where the original plane was the day before, it came into DFW from Mobile after maintenance in the afternoon, no one checked to see if everything was working. the 2nd plane was coming in from HKG and that’s the plane we would be on, however, planes changed and the plane went elsewhere so we were given a plane that arrived from Brazil at 5:01a that morning, plenty of time to check if everything was working, it was not checked until it was to be our plane to HKG. this isn’t the only issue Ive had this year with them but the longest most frustrating one.then trying to get my back back was another issue, the agent just didn’t care etc. take back the bonus’ especially what Doug Parker got and give the mechanics a raise to begin with. years without a contract, im surprised they haven’t had a strike or picket the airports like the pilots and Flight Attendant’s do.

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