Maintenance impacts airlines' bottom line

April 15, 2008 at 2:07 PM

CHICAGO, April 15 (UPI) -- Aging airline fleets and the higher maintenance costs associated with them are plaguing U.S. airlines just as fuel costs are surging, industry analysts said.

"Airlines like United, Northwest, Delta and American that have a lot of older airplanes have to question whether strategy that worked in 2002 is one that's viable to keep in 2008, 2009 or 2010," airline analyst Henry Harteveldt told Crain's Business Journal Tuesday.

Analysts said maintenance costs of older planes are 15 percent to 20 percent higher than maintenance for newer planes.

Awareness of maintenance problems rose in March after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed a $10.2 million fine on Southwest Airlines for jets that had missed required safety inspections.

Thousands of flights have been canceled at various airlines since and the Business Travel Coalition said the impact of the maintenance-oriented headlines have taken its toll.

The coalition said that 13 percent of 233 survey respondents indicated airline safety concerns had caused them to cancel a trip recently, the report said.

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