(Reuters) - American Airlines said it will cut back on passenger capacity through the first half of November, extending reductions from September and October as it canceled hundreds of flights, citing aircraft maintenance issues and pilots reporting in sick.
The carrier, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, said in a memo to American managers that it was cutting its flight schedule through the first part of November by 1 percent to give it more flexibility to organize crews and planes to return to a more normal pattern. American said the move would not affect holiday travel.
"While we are experiencing improvements in several areas of the operation, we are not yet back to the levels our customers deserve and expect from American," the carrier said in the memo, which was emailed to Reuters.
Spokeswoman Andrea Huguely on Thursday said American is canceling about 31 flights a day out of about 3,500 daily trips between now and mid-November. She said American canceled about 400 flights since September.
American, a unit of AMR Corp, cut its flight schedule for September and October by 1 percent to 2 percent. American blamed flight disruptions on a slowdown campaign by pilots that it said was causing economic damage to the airline and alienating passengers. Incidents in which seats came unbolted from the floor on American flights have also raised concerns about the carrier.
The Allied Pilots Association union, which represents American's pilots, has said it called no work slowdown against the carrier. But the union has stressed that pilots want a better contract on par with those at rivals such as Delta Air Lines.
Pilots voted down a concessionary contract from American in August. Talks on a contract resumed with the pilots union last week.
Robert Mann, an airline consultant in Port Washington, New York, said weak demand might be one factor in the latest move.
"There is undoubtedly less demand for travel in recent weeks that we've seen," Mann said. "That would suggest that a risk-averse strategy would simply be to fly less."
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Bernard Orr)