August 26th, 2010
02:15 PM ET

FAA proposes record civil fine against American Airlines

The FAA has proposed a $24 million fine against American Airlines, which would be the largest civil penalty in the agency's history.

The FAA said the fine was because of American Airlines' "failing to correctly follow an Airworthiness Directive involving the maintenance of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft."

“We put rules and regulations in place to keep the flying public safe,”  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press release. “We expect operators to perform inspections and conduct regular and required maintenance in order to prevent safety issues. There can be no compromises when it comes to safety.”

soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Brent

    Whoop-dee-doo. They'll just raise ticket prices and task on even more fees to pay it. Once again, the flying public is the real loser.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brent


      August 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roberto

      Yep, looks like baggage fees are about to increase. Maybe they can start charging a "lucky we didn't kill you " fee, when you arrive at your destination.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • TonyJustin

      Are you saying that AA shouldn't properly maintain their airplanes?

      August 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      No Tony, I am pretty sure he is saying a fee isn't an effective punishment or deterrent. Is that REALLY that hard for you to comprehend?

      August 26, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • YallSuk

      Brian...Money is the ONLY language big business talks...fines are a proper way to deter further infractions. I say fine them, otherwise what are you going to do (provided they have been warned and told to fix the problem several times before) send them a letter? ask them to please listen to you?...Airlines come up with all these fees and can't they keep up their fleet? If its hard for them to be in business, then close the shop.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian


      August 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      If you start putting people in "Jail" you will get better results, than the fines bit.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • wrack

      economic pressure is the only thing that will change their behavior.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      You would rather crash?

      August 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brent

      (See my reply to Alex below. Only a complete moron would think I was implying AA should get away with this.)

      August 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      True that they'll just share their fine with the customers.
      Perhaps the FAA should consider a suspension of operations order.

      August 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • CK in SD

      I'm sure the people who didn't die in the crashes that didn't happen because AA was forced to fix their planes before they break in mid air would disagree

      August 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • K9

      If they did nothing and the airlines failed and there was a major accident everyone would be screaiming why did thie Gov't not do anything in advance??? We are never satisfied.

      August 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Aubrey

    Can they just go bankrupt already?

    Horrible company that could care less about the consumers filling their pockets...

    They even fire their own for trying to help...

    August 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alex

    FAA they had the regulation, but not the regulators to back them up because government oversight is bad (unless you need it for your own purposes). see how well a "free market" economy works?

    Dear Brent, so this company shouldn't be punished for gross negligence because you are worried about paying more? They aren't the only carrier... try google next time.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Alex, Bush bailed out American Airlines in 2001. They hardly are a free-market enterprise.

      And are you serious? Brent was CLEARLY arguing that fees are an ineffective punishment because the costs are passed off to the customer. Is your comprehension seriously that poor? You can disagree with him, but you can not disagree with what you clearly do not understand.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brent

      Alex, et al,

      Are you really so dense that you thought that I believe there shouldn't be consequences? Of course there should! But writing a check for $24M means nothing to AA. A fine doesn't ensure compliance; it simply ensures greater fees and fares for travelers.

      Just thinking out loud here, one thing the FAA should have available as a tool rather than a simple fine - writing a check and being done with it - is a system whereby AA would have to pay salaries and benefits for X number of FAA-designated inspectors for X number of months or years to oversee their safety operations, since obviously AA can't or won't do it themselves. This would better ensure that safety and maintenance is being given proper attention in direct relation to financial burdens placed upon the airline. Otherwise, AA just writes a check and goes about business as usual.

      That's just one idea off the top of my head. It really wasn't that difficult to envision, but I guarantee something like that would have not only a bigger impact on the airline in terms of getting their attention, but perhaps more importantly it would have a direct effect on the safety and wellbeing of consumers, something a straight monetary fine does not accomplish.

      August 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • SD

      Speak with your wallet. If AA raises fees and rares due to the fines....then go with another carrier. Simple. They price themselves out of business. Which is currently happening anyway. There is a reason why the big airlines are floundering while smaller, low-cost airlines are doing well.

      Frankly if people are dumb enough to pay extra money for the same flight they could have with a cheaper airline, then they deserve to lose their money.

      August 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • tigerchuong

      @Brent. How about ground all the planes that are not passed inspection. Not allow them to fly. That's clearly hit the AA pocket hard. Other airlines will gladly take over AA customer and business. On top of that, fine a big fee. I would not fly AA if there are so much fee on my ticket. I could fly with SW, Delta, or some other airline.

      August 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Phil

    Too many hoops to jump through in order to fly. Now cutbacks in maintenance to save money, along with all these new fees? When is the public going to wake up and start boycotting these airlines...

    Amtrak... here I come!!!

    August 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JK

    We now know the real reason for recent American Airlines fee for the "privledge" of sitting towards the front of coach.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jayson

    American Airlines should smarten up and move to China. No more pesky FAA to deal with and no crazy unions to deal with. $24 million in fines is excessive. If the government keeps harassing businesses they will locate somewhere where the US government has no control of them.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • YallSuk

      Go for it. Then their planes can crash over there and not here.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Jayson, government is not "harassing" businesses. That's like saying that a police officer who pulls over and tickets a reckless driver is "harassing" him. American Airlines was operating in a manner that endangered people – they were caught and are now being penalized. If you don't like living in a country where there is some manner of oversight preventing (at least in some instances) large companies from taking advantage of the little guy, then I suggest that YOU try moving to China.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zippity Doo Dah

      Good one Jayson! AA operating out of China...Too funny!

      August 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • fairplay31

      Not such a bad idea Jayson....The GOP should move to China too! America will be better off

      August 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GregT

    As much as it sucks that the company will just pass the cost of this onto consumers – what is the alternative to get them to abide by the maintenance rules? It sucks to have to do this, but there are no easy ways of enforcement that in some way will not eventually hurt the public.. The ones who make money in the company are not going to let themselves be hurt, that would be just to painful.... Goes back to the whole thing of taking responsibility for ones action.. oh well...

    August 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      How about making an official public statement about the manner to make the public completely aware. I know obviously the information is freely available via articles such as this, but if our justice system had any integrity, people would listen to an official public announcement. And then you require increased inspections on the offending airline (you know, actually doing their job) and if they comply completely you announce it to help them reestablish their name for turning things around, or you take away their license to operate as a commercial airliner.

      It is very simple.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • YallSuk

      Comply or close. Simple. You run a red light you get a ticket and pay for it right?...this is nothing new for AA, they have been warned before.Look it up.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Askgees

    Good. They deserve the fine and anyone flying should be fully aware that AA does not follow the proper procedures there for flying this airline may lead to your death.....

    August 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. phay13

    I think that the point being made was that American Airlines SHOULD be fined for its negligence; however, the passengers will be gouged through more 'fees' to pay AA's fine. One can always boycott this carrier and choose another airline.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ben

    Not sure we can call this a failure of the free market economy, Alex. Consumers do have a choice, and that's exactly the point. If a race to the bottom has resulted in American Airlines flying aircraft in an unsafe manner, consumers will discover that one way or another. If it's the worst way, and let's hope it's not, then those victims would have recourse via wrongful death suits. Either way, it's a not a reflection on the free market economy. Government regulation, while important and sometimes necessary, cannot be used as proof of the failure of the free market. Moreover, where there is heavy regulation, some would (and rightly should) argue that there is no free market, and therefore you can't try to suppose how the free market economy would apply to the situation.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SmartFlier

    -Alex – get a grip and do some homework- don't attack Brent. His point is valid – Mr. AA owner will not dip into his profit margin to pay the fine or meet regulations. Mr. AA owner dips into my pocket. The same is true for all the major airlines. Yes – that is the "free market" economy.
    The solution? Buy your own plane. Whatever – woes on that end too – now I have to pay fuel charges, pilot fees, etc.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cory

    Where is the 6th month moratorium?

    We talking about human lives here

    August 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Theresa

    Never flying American again.. to many things going wrong with them...maybe this is a wake up call .... several problems this year with the airplanes that i have flown.. makes me wonder now. I have been lucky.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Victoria

    "Roberto – Yep, looks like baggage fees are about to increase. Maybe they can start charging a "lucky we didn't kill you " fee, when you arrive at your destination."

    Roberto... you just gave me the best laugh I have had in days. YOUR COMMENT IS SO TRUE!!!! Still LMAO

    August 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dlnorris

    I guess too many american workers and managers did not vote for change.... This is a substantial fine for a company that has a fairly decent reputation and record. As the MD-80/S-80 is a major part of the American fleet I can not imagine that they would willfully or intentionally miss an air worthiness directive (unless it was friviolous government bull crap). I have 800,000 miles with them and a lot on the MD-80/S-80. Need to see more behind this suprise fine.... I guess I had better watch our for the IRS, as I did not vote for change either, and we know what the government/government motors did with car dealers that did not support change....

    August 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • dlnorris

      yep... did not support change... This fine goes back to a 2006 airworthiness directive, american grounded their md-80 fleet for some days in 2008 and did all the inspections and work requried by this (the original directive has an ispection deadline of March 25 2008, I have seen littel input as to the cause or condition that lead to the missed inspections. But it was a long time ago to be sneaking in this fine now... unless the bandit of change and his minions need to get some message across to businesses and people that are not aligned........

      August 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      I'm not sure what you're talking about but according to the bailout they took in 2001, they are partially owned by US the taxpayers. Just like AIG, Fanny mae, Freddy, GM take your pick...

      August 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
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