Here are three things that I didn’t cover separately from last week’s employee meeting with American Airlines President and CEO-designate Robert Isom, along with several other executives that seemed noteworthy or otherwise interesting to me.
- American says they didn’t really monitor vendors well in the past. Chief Operating Officer David Seymour says they now pay attention their staffing (airport caterers need employees eligible to drive trucks across the ramp in order to bring drinks to the aircraft…).
Our vendors, those that play a critical role, we found that even more important as some of their short-staffed issues that they had in hiring people and retaining people, whether it’s caterers, wheelchair, fuelers, all those. We’re monitoring all those a lot closer than we ever have.
- They think they had too much staffing at gates for Thanksgiving. Remember American has reduced staffing at gates, moving to ‘single agent boarding’ during the pandemic – first to having only one agent work a flight when loads were below 70% on single aisle aircraft and then moving that up to 80%. That means agents are too rushed to help passengers, deal with standbys and upgrades, let along monitor which passengers might be too drunk to fly. And American now wants that one gate agent to charge customers to gate check bags that won’t fit in the sizer. Yet Seymour says,
These are [gate agents] that have been through the training and are now getting acclimated to the environment. So we have a lot of staffing there. They almost said that at some of the gates we had too much staffing, which is you know a high class problem I guess.
But again we’re feeling good where we are staffing levels across all the organizations, whether it’s airports, at our gates, down on the ramp, with our techops organization. They’re much better situated and doing a much better job in terms of managing out of service at the morning start.
You know DFW, as Jim Moses commented to me, you have multiple days now we’re hitting “right start” goal which is something they haven’t been able to achieve much in the past but they are now.
- American is almost done retrofitting its Airbus A321s with their new interior with no seat back entertainment, less space between seats, and bigger overhead bins. According to Chief Operating Officer David Seymour, “We’re sitting now on the A321s with about 25 left to do. Of that there are only 3 more of the legacy US A321s that had no seat power..more dated than the legacy American 321s that we had…They will be done, the last one inducts at the beginning of next year…first quarter we’ll be done with all of those.”