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American Adds Flights to Curb Delays From U.S. Grounding

American Airlines U.S. Flights Grounded by Computer Problems
The carrier requested a nationwide “ground stop” on all its flights because of computer problems, Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokesman, said in an e-mail. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

American Airlines added five flights today as employees worked to rebuild U.S. schedules and accommodate passengers stranded in yesterday’s grounding.

The extra trips, coupled with the scrubbing of about 100 flights as American shuffled flight crews and planes, showed the lingering effects of a computer outage that sidelined the carrier’s U.S. fleet. Three flights were added between Chicago and Dallas, one from Dallas to Los Angeles and another from Miami to Los Angeles, said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman.

American parent AMR Corp. didn’t say what caused the outages at the third-largest U.S. carrier. The malfunctions began about 10:30 a.m. Dallas time, and systems were restored about 3:30 p.m., Huguely said.

“We do have redundancies in our systems,” Chief Executive Officer Tom Horton said in a video posted on the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline’s website. “Unfortunately, in this case we had a software issue that impacted both our primary and backup systems.”

The carrier is “very sorry” for disrupting passengers’ travel plans, Horton said. A combined 978 flights were canceled at American and AMR’s American Eagle regional unit.

American, which is preparing to merge with US Airways Group Inc., is allowing passengers with flexible schedules to change reservations at no charge and is providing full refunds to those who can’t alter plans.

‘Technology Emergency’

“This is a technology emergency,” Henry Harteveldt, an analyst at Hudson Crossing in San Francisco, said yesterday. “I don’t think American has experienced anything like this in a long time, if at all.”

United Continental Holdings Inc. in November struggled with its third computer failure of the year when the dispatching system failed, interrupting service for about two hours.

In March of last year, Chicago-based United’s website and airport kiosks were disrupted when the company combined reservation systems for United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc. following their 2010 merger.

In 2008, a failure in U.S. Federal Aviation Administration software that processes flight plans caused hundreds of delays in the eastern half of the U.S., as FAA workers were forced to manually enter data and rely on another processing system in Salt Lake City.

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