After canceling 500 flights on Tuesday and 1,000 flights on Wednesday, American Airlines announced it was canceling 900 flights scheduled for today. All the cancellations involve the MD-80 aircraft and inspecting/repairing bundles of wires in the aircraft. American has now canceled more than one third of all its flights in the past three days.

As of Wednesday evening only 60 aircraft had been cleared for service, leaving almost 240 yet to be cleared to fly. At that rate, AA will not be able to complete the process until Saturday at the earliest.

AA is doing the right thing by providing passengers with travel vouchers of up to $500 to cover food and lodging expenses caused by canceled flights. But there are still some unanswered questions:

  • Why did 90% of the aircraft that were grounded and repaired a few weeks ago fail a new inspection?
  • How large a financial hit is American taking with all of these cancellations and the cost of helping the passengers. Can it afford this huge hit?
  • How many passengers, after dealing with so much inconvenience, will decide to take their future air travel business elsewhere? How much will this damage American’s business in the months to come?

This is a bad week for American.