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American Airlines Denies Bankruptcy Rumor as Stock Plunges

October 4, 2011
American Airlines sought to do damage control after shares dropped by 30 percent at one point Monday amid reports of pilots retiring at rates much higher than normal in the hope that they could lock in their pensions based on stock prices going back three months. There were also rumors about the company filing for bankruptcy. Trading in American’s shares stopped several times during the day.
American said that nothing had happened within the company to drive the price drop.  “While we generally don’t comment on AMR’s share price performance, there is no company-driven news that has caused the volatility in AMR shares today,” a spokesman for American said. “The pause in trading of AMR shares was due to automatic triggers established by the New York Stock Exchange (under Rule 80C) that pause trading based on share price volatility.”

On reports of a court-supervised restructuring, the spokesman said, “Regarding rumors and speculation about a court-supervised restructuring, that is certainly not our goal or our preference.  We know we need to improve our results, and we are keenly focused as we work to achieve that.”
Last Friday, 129 pilots told American Airlines they were retiring as of Oct. 1, more than 11 times the usual number of pilots retiring in a single month, according to press reports.  Pilots younger than 60 who can retire might be able to lock in their pensions based on stock prices going back three months.
A month ago, 111 pilots retired, 10 times the usual number. The moves caused American to cancel one international flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo. The airline also reduced the frequency of some other flights. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the twice-per-day flight to Tokyo was reduced to two times per week.

American said in a statement issued Friday that, despite the higher than normal number of retirements, it expects to operate its schedule with a minimum of customer inconvenience. The airline said it had made a proposal to the Allied Pilots Association that would ease short-term staffing shortages.
Shares in AMR Corp., American’s parent company, closed Monday at $1.98, a drop of 33 percent, marking the first time the stock has closed below $2 since March 2003.  Since the start of the year, AMR’s stock price has dropped 75 percent.

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