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American Airlines bankruptcy may limit future flights at ILM

READ MORE: American Airlines bankruptcy may limit future flights at ILM
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The parent company for American Airlines is filing bankruptcy. AMR Corp. made the announcement this morning, but the company says it did not make the decision because it's completely out of cash. Instead, it's a strategic move.

In a statement, the company said the decision is part of an effort to quote "achieve a cost and debt structure that is industry competitive."

AMR says the bankruptcy filing won't affect flight schedules for American Airlines, American Eagle and its other subsidiaries.

That's good news for Wilmington International Airport. Nearly five months ago American flew out of ILM for the first time. Now, the airport is dealing with news of the airline's bankruptcy. On top of that, all the small regional jets that fly out of ILM will soon be phased out.

When news broke that American Airlines filed for bankruptcy, it didn't shock ILM Airport Authority Director Jon Rosborough.

"American is the only major us airline that has not filed for bankruptcy protection in the US, and they have the second highest cost of any airline, so we thought that was going to happen," Rosborough said.

American Airlines came to ILM over the summer with two daily flights to Chicago-O'Hare. Those flights have been close to 90-percent full. In fact, Rosborough says the airport was hoping to add another American Airlines flight or two.

"I would imagine as they are going through reorganization all those future expansion plans will probably be put on hold until they get through this," he said. "The good news is they were exploring that with us, and I think that speaks volumes for the market here at ILM."

As for the current flights out of ILM, Rosborough says they should continue as normal.

So while American Airlines filing for bankruptcy protection is not expected to affect ILM, one thing certainly will. Airlines will soon be phasing out the smaller planes.

Airlines are getting rid of the regional jets because of the high fuel costs. The 50-seat jets that fly out of ILM will be replaced by planes with 75 seats. The planes would hold more passengers likely reducing the number of daily flights in and out of Wilmington.

Business traveler Dan Hill isn't worried about that.

"Having a choice between four flights or two flights out of this airport really won't affect that much, as far as myself goes," Hill said.

We could start seeing the new planes land at ILM within the next 24 months. Rosborough says some of the newer aircraft will have first class seats on them. Seventy-one percent of the flyers out of ILM are business travelers, many of whom are looking for those seats.

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