After an hour of talking to AMR chief executive Tom Horton as American Airlines and American Eagle planes taxied by Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, we wrapped up the interview with a few customer questions and if there will be a livery change for the carrier post-bankruptcy.
ST: The customer perspective.
Horton: Yup. It all starts there.
ST: What are you hearing from customers now, after what has gone on the past few weeks?
Horton: So we’ve disappointed our customers and that’s not acceptable. The way to make this company successful starts with doing a good job for our customers and we all know it, especially at a time of restructuring, so I regret that we’ve let them down and they have every right to be disappointed. We are doing our best to get the operation back to the level of service that folks have come to expect from American and we’re making good progress, so that’s what I tell folks. We appreciate your business. We appreciate your loyalty and we are going to do our best to get it back to where it needs to be. And in the meantime take care of customers who have been disrupted.
ST: Do you think you can still get out of bankruptcy in 18 months?
Horton: Yeah, I think so. I don’t see a reason why not. I mean most of the work is done as I described earlier.
ST: Do you have much to do on the retiree front in Section 1114?
Horton: We are in the middle of that right now. That will likely…I think if you look at history on that, that typically results in a settlement as opposed to a full court proceeding. We’ll have to wait and see.
ST: How much do you have left, given that some of the retiree changes were made in the union contracts?
Horton: There is still a lot to do. That’s being worked on as we speak. So I don’t think there is any reason why we can’t get this out and have it done as the fastest of the big airline restructuring but most importantly, the best, because we’re only going to do this once.
ST: As the company emerges from bankruptcy, will American change their livery and brand image?
Horton: As you know our new 787s are composite so they can't be polished metal. That's a physical fact and the new Airbuses have a whole lot of composite on them as well. So I think I’ve already said this so I’ll say it again here, I think that dictates that our airplanes will have to have some paint on them and you're just going to have to stay tuned on that. We've been doing a lot of thinking about it. Not just the look of the livery but what the brand should be and stand for as we come out of this as the new American. We've put a couple of years of work into that and it's nearing completion.
ST: You’ve had this livery for how many years?
Horton: 44 years, but who’s counting? And it’s one of the great brands of the world. It’s recognizable to a lot of folks. It’s a good brand.
ST: Is the new livery and brand something we will see pre-emergence from bankruptcy or post-emergence?
Horton: I can’t tell you that yet. You’ll just have to wait and see.