FAA seeks $162.4 million in fines from American Airlines parent

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking to collect more than $162 million in fines from American Airlines’ parent company for alleged safety violations by the airline and affiliated carriers.

The FAA filed four claims totaling $162.4 million last month against AMR Corp. and its airlines in the New York court overseeing the bankruptcy of the Fort Worth company, according to published reports.

The claims, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, resulted from alleged maintenance problems dating to 2007. The FAA declined to discuss details of the proposed penalties Tuesday, saying the investigation on several enforcement cases was ongoing.

In a statement, AMR said claims such as those filed by the FAA are a routine part of any Chapter 11 filing. “It is not an admission that money is owed, nor is it an admission that the amount cited is correct,” according to the statement.

The FAA said it filed the claims to “protect the interest of U.S. taxpayers.” The claims were filed before a July 16 deadline set by the court for claims made by creditors. As of the deadline, AMR faced 8,876 claims totaling $95.1 billion, according to the company.

“Through the claims resolution process we expect to identify many claims that we believe should be disallowed by the Bankruptcy Court because they are duplicative, are without merit, are overstated or for other reasons,” AMR said in a previous court filing.

Taken together the $162.4 million in fines dwarfs any other single fine issued by the FAA against an airline.

In 2010, the FAA proposed the largest fine, $24.2 million, against American for maintenance violations on MD-80 planes. The airline is still negotiating to lower the fine. That fine is reportedly included in the $162.4 million that the FAA claimed in court filings.

But AMR said “at no time did American operate an aircraft that was unsafe for flight.”

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers, our people and our planes,” the company said in a statement.