American Airlines pilot blames low morale on travel problems

Carrier sees high number of pilots call out sick, maintenance problems

MIAMI – An American Airlines pilot told Local 10 what's behind the travel problems at the carrier.

Since the weekend, a high number of pilots reporting sick and maintenance issues have led to hundreds of flight cancellations and delays.

"Rather than going the extra mile, maybe we probably won't go the extra mile now," said an American Airlines pilot.

The pilots' union lost their fight over pay and benefits when a bankruptcy court allowed the airline to void their contract this month.

A pre-flight inspection given to Local 10 details what pilots check for before every flight, including inspecting the fuselage, nose gear, wings, engines, brakes, and prepping cockpit. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates reporting of any discrepancies.

"Maybe being a little more cognizant or aware of things, be more vigilant of things that may be wrong and putting them into the logbook as necessary," said the pilot.

"But why would you be more vigilant now than you might have been two months ago?" asked Local 10's Glenna Milberg.

"With the state of the airline where it is right now, with our negotiations. The means by which the company has run the business here," said the pilot.

Problems on Thursday ranged from heating panels to hydraulics. Ron Surratt missed two flights to San Francisco as a result.

"I'm on my third try to get to San Francisco today," said Surratt.

Pilots said older planes need more maintenance, but that they are safe. One said he wouldn't hesitate to put his child on any one of them.

American's fleet averages 15 years old. It is buying more than 400 new planes to be delivered over the next five years.

Officials with American Airlines and American Eagle say they will need to cancel 300 flights this week to cope with a high number of pilots reporting sick and maintenance issues. By Wednesday afternoon, 249 flights were canceled.

American Airlines will be cutting its schedule through the end of October.

The carrier released a statement late Thursday. Click here to read it.