American Airlines drops idea of squeezing more seats on regional jets

Airlines may not be done squeezing more passengers into planes

If you thought that the recent financial success enjoyed by the nation’s airlines would stop them from trying to squeeze more passengers onto planes, think again.

The good news for passengers is that the latest effort to increase passenger capacity in regional jets at American Airlines has been quashed by opposition from its pilots union.

American, which is in the process of merging with US Airways to become the world’s biggest carrier, is in contract negotiations with its pilots. Amid the contract talks, American Airlines president Scott Kirby suggested adding five seats to the medium-size regional jets, increasing capacity to 81 passengers.

In a letter to the union, Kirby wrote: “My own conservative estimate is that adding these five seats would mean tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue annually to American.”

American is already collecting record profits. In the three-month period that ended in September, the parent company for American Airlines and US Airways reported net profits of $1.2 billion, up 59% compared to the same period in 2013.

Kirby dropped that idea in the face of objections from pilots, who said the move would let American shift more passengers to the regional carriers. Those pilots typically earn less and are not represented by the union.

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