American Airlines, A Big Chicago Player, Files For Bankruptcy

Midwest fliers have plenty of experience with airline bankruptcies — think United, Northwest and Delta. Now comes another one with a direct impact on Chicago.

American Airlines, which has one of its two biggest hubs at O’Hare International Airport, said today it’s seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It is the second largest airline bankruptcy case, behind United.

American said it planned to keep its operations at O’Hare, and has no immediate plans to change its schedule.

American, based in Dallas, is the last of the big “legacy carriers” to reorganize, in part because its chief executive, Gerard Arpey, resisted the step. Rather than lead American through a court case, Mr. Arpey retired, and was replaced today by Thomas Horton. The airline said it hoped to emerge from court protection by mid-2013.

American and United have always fought tooth and nail for business at O’Hare, where United holds a 27 percent share of passenger traffic, and American has 24 percent, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

But United in recent years has gained financial and size advantages over its rival. United sought bankruptcy protection in 2002, after it failed to get federal loan guarantees, and merged with Continental last year. The combined United and Continental are based in Chicago. Continue reading “American Airlines, A Big Chicago Player, Files For Bankruptcy”