American Airlines’ chief operating officer David Seymour warned during a conference call to discuss the carrier’s second quarter financial results on Thursday that supply chains across the aviation industry remained “tight”
Those supply chain issues are snarling up the delivery of some new aircraft from Airbus and Boeing and presenting headaches for engineers trying to source spare parts for airplanes when things go wrong.
So far, AA says it’s on top of those big-ticket issues but supply chain woes continue to cause a flood of smaller headaches for the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline pretty much every day, according to chief executive Robert Isom.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t have issues provisioning our aircraft with pillows, blankets, plastic cups, food. At various times we have issues with fueling,” Isom told Bloomberg journalist Mary Schlangenstein during the same conference call.
“There’s just a myriad of things that all have to come together to put an aircraft in the air,” Isom continued. “The supply chain for aircraft parts is one thing we monitor closely, but there’s all these others things that we really are dependent on.”
“Aviation touches just a broad swathe of the economy and we need it to get back to working well,” Isom warned.
It’s not just American Airlines that is facing a daily struggle to get passenger-leasing provisions onboard its aircraft. Flight attendants at United Airlines have been complaining for months about the carrier’s inability to get catering supplies onto jets in time.
There’s no guarantee that items “taken for granted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic” will onboard your next flight, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) cautions.
“These issues have affected us on numerous fronts, from catering supplies, to aircraft comfort items such as blankets or headphones,” the union warned back in February.
Earlier this month, the union said things still hadn’t improved much with uniform items becoming another victim of the supply chain chaos. What makes that issue particularly insulting for United’s flight attendants is the fact the airline is now clamping down on uniform ‘non-compliance’ issues.
Of course, it’s not just American and United who are feeling the effects of the post-pandemic supply chain mess. The problems are being felt across the industry, both domestically and internationally.
Last October, British Airways ordered flight attendants to start rationing orange juice because the airline was struggling to source the drink from its normal supplier. Linen and bedding have also been in short supply and, for a while, even Champagne was being rationed.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.