AMR, based in Fort Worth, Texas, said its board of directors determined a Chapter 11 reorganization was in the best interest of both the company and its stakeholders.
"The Chapter 11 process enables American Airlines and American Eagle to continue conducting normal business operations while they restructure debt, costs and other obligations," AMR said in a statement.
AMR said the restructuring was necessary to "address our cost structure, including labor costs, to enable us to capitalize on these foundational strengths and secure our future.
"Our very substantial cost disadvantage compared to our larger competitors, all of which restructured their costs and debt through Chapter 11, has become increasingly untenable given the accelerating impact of global uncertainty and resulting revenue instability, volatile and rising fuel prices, and intensifying competitive challenges."
The company said flights would continue, but that chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gerard Arpey had retired and would be replaced by Thomas Horton, who will continue to serve as president of AMR and American.
"American expects to continue normal business operations throughout the reorganization process, and the business will continue to be operated by the company's management," AMR said in a statement.
Normal business operations include "normal flight schedules, honoring tickets and reservations as usual, and making normal refunds and exchanges," the company said. In addition, "American's AAdvantage frequent flyer program is not affected."
The airline will continue its membership in the oneworld alliance "and all of its codeshare partnerships continue," the statement said.