Comms team trying to help American avoid Chapter 11

DALLAS: In the days of uncertainty leading up to the results of American Airlines' labor-concession negotiation votes, the carrier's communications team was working flat-out to help the company, AMR Corporation, avoid bankruptcy, while communicating with several groups of stakeholders.

DALLAS: In the days of uncertainty leading up to the results of American Airlines' labor-concession negotiation votes, the carrier's communications team was working flat-out to help the company, AMR Corporation, avoid bankruptcy, while communicating with several groups of stakeholders.

As of press time, board members had planned to meet to discuss the bankruptcy filing and the future of CEO Don Carty.

Gus Whitcomb, acting MD of corporate communications, said, "We're working to ensure that accurate information reaches every key audience we have, including employees, shareholders, government officials, vendors, suppliers, and customers. As with any PR effort, there are messages that are specific to each audience."

Whitcomb also mentioned that American is working with two undisclosed, specialized PR agencies on labor issues.

American, which posted a $1.04 billion loss last Wednesday, has stated that if all three unions (comprising pilots, ground workers, and flight attendants) do not vote in favor of the concessions, the company will file for Chapter 11 protection. If it does that, American could lay off as many as 10,000 employees.

All three unions ratified the employee cost-reduction plans on April 16, but expressed anger at a clause in AMR's SEC financial report that allowed for executive bonuses and pension-fund protection, even in the case of a Chapter 11 filing.

American CEO Don Carty admitted in a press conference last Monday that he had given misleading information to his management team, including communications employees.

"I fell short in conveying to my management team and our spokespeople that I had not fully briefed our union leaders on my discussions," he said.

Of the misstep, Whitcomb said, "Mr. Carty's strength is that he is an honest man. He made a mistake. He's admitted it in the most public forum possible. Now we hope that we have enough time to allow individuals who are understandably angry to set emotion aside and realize that bankruptcy is as ugly an alternative today as it was a week ago."

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