American Airlines make money – by listening to employees

American Airlines turned a profit last quarter, because of a new management style which works with employees to cut costs rather than treating employees and unions as its enemies. A few examples:

Two American Airlines mechanics didn’t like having to toss out $200 drill bits once they got dull. So they rigged up some old machine parts – a vacuum-cleaner belt and a motor from a science project – and built “Thumping Ralph.” It’s essentially a drill-bit sharpener that allows them to get more use out of each bit. The savings, according to the company: as much as $300,000 a year.

And it was a group of pilots who realized that they could taxi just as safely with one engine as with two. That was instituted as policy has helped cut American’s fuel consumption even as prices have continued to rise to record levels.

And now they’ve posted a profit (albeit a small one) for the first time in 5 years. Read the whole story.

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