* U.S. says acts to protect taxpayers' interests
* AMR says never operated an aircraft unsafe for flight
* Potential FAA claims total more than $162 million
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON, Aug 7 Federal authorities have
notified a court handling the bankruptcy of American Airlines
parent AMR Corp that they may seek penalties totaling more than
$162 million against the airline for safety breaches.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it had
acted to protect taxpayers' interests in cases involving both
American Airlines and American Eagle, American Airlines'
Details of investigations into alleged safety violations
were not made public because the cases remain open, the FAA said
in a statement.
The potential combined total of about $162.7 million
reflected four claims submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in
Manhattan on behalf of the FAA.
The operator of the nation's air traffic control system, in
its statement, said the claims detailed both proposed and
potential civil fines. The matter was submitted last month in
time to meet the court's July 16 deadline for claims
AMR said this was part of some 8,876 claims totaling about
$95.1 billion that had been filed with the court as of the
deadline against American and other AMR subsidiaries.
"This FAA filing was to preserve any potential claim that
may be the result of FAA investigations and may not reflect at
all the eventual outcome," said Bruce Hicks, a company
AMR expects to identify many claims through a resolution
process that are unlikely to be paid as filed because they are
either duplicative, without merit, overstated or improper for
another reason, he said in an emailed statement.
"Safety is fundamental to the success of American Airlines,
and at no time did American operate an aircraft that was unsafe
for flight," Hicks added.
AMR declared bankruptcy in November, citing untenable labor
costs. AMR and its creditors are focusing on how the airline
will emerge from bankruptcy and whether it will merge with
competitor US Airways Group, which is seeking to acquire
AMR won court approval last month to extend through Dec. 28
its exclusive right to present a plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
Judge Sean Lane granted the request, which was supported by
AMR's creditors' committee. The current exclusivity
period was to have run out in September.
The case is In re AMR Corp et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 11-15463.