* CEO calls outage 'unique' event unrelated to merger
* Says company has ruled out external threats
(Adds more comments)
April 18 American Airlines Chief Executive
Thomas Horton said on Thursday the company "has a high degree of
confidence" that Tuesday's computer network outage that led the
carrier to cancel nearly 1,000 flights will not recur.
Horton said American, a unit of AMR Corp,
understands the cause of the outage, has ruled out external
threats and continues to investigate the issue.
The outage "was unrelated to the merger" planned with US
Airways Group Inc, Horton said in an interview.
"It was a unique event and we do not expect that to recur,"
The $11 billion merger with US Airways is expected to close
in the third quarter, pending approvals, and would cap a wave of
consolidation that has helped put U.S. airlines on more solid
financial footing. The new American Airlines would be the
world's largest carrier.
American Airlines canceled 978 flights on Tuesday because of
the computer problem that affected its primary and backup
systems. The incident led to 1,500 travelers staying overnight
at terminals in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport,
American's biggest hub, and prompted Horton to make a video
apology to customers.
Though operations were returning to normal, American said it
had canceled more than 440 flights on Thursday because of
adverse weather. The carrier operates more than 3,500 daily
Tuesday's incident raised concern about the possibility of
future outages, particularly as American prepares to meld
operations with US Air. If the merger proceeds, the new company
will need to integrate various systems and networks.
Horton, who will be nonexecutive chairman of the new
American, said transition teams were working to make sure the
merger is carried out with few hitches.
"That really starts with running a good operation, it starts
with technology integration going smoothly so we're very focused
on those things," Horton said. "They're not easy but we have
great teams working on them."
Horton, who took over AMR's top job when American filed for
Chapter 11 protection in late 2011, said restructuring savings
helped his company on Thursday post its first profitable first
quarter, excluding special items and costs, since 2007.
He said the carrier has seen some soft demand this month but
added May and June bookings look slightly better than last year.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Gerald E.
McCormick and Mohammad Zargham)