“October is going to be better,” he said. “It has to be.”
Hoffer said although he expects business travelers to be the first to move their business elsewhere, passengers who are looking for deals will go wherever t hey find them.
“They will search for price and they will come back again,” he said.
When American filed for bankruptcy last year, many customers said they would continue flying the airline as long as their flights still showed up on time. But September’s numbers, released Monday, showed that traffic dropped compared to September 2011.
Passenger traffic overall was down 2.8 percent, with capacity down 3.4 percent year-over-year; domestically, where issues have been the worst, capacity was down 5.5 percent and traffic dropped 7.1 percent. The airline canceled about 400 flights in advance because of pilot issues.
Revenue per available seat mile increased 4 percent year-over-year, however, and would have been up by 4.4 percent without the operational disruptions.
Recent issues have caused some analysts to question whether the airline can emerge on its own from bankruptcy protection or if it should join forces with the smaller US Airways, which has been seeking a merger.
“Certainly things are not going well in the reorganization process right now,” James Corridore, a Standard & Poor’s equity analyst in New York, told Bloomberg News. “These are major hiccups.”
Pantín said the company plans to work with the union to “find a solution that works for the pilots and allows for a successful restructuring of the airline.”
Reynaldo Martino hopes the problems get worked out soon. A frequent flier with executive platinum status, he and his nine fellow members of the Haitian band T-Vice have had nothing but headaches on American lately.
On Sept. 28, they were supposed to fly from Miami to Santiago, but ended up in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and had to take a bus. On Friday, heading from Miami to New York, they suffered delays and lost luggage. And Monday, they were upgraded to first class, then told to move, he said, later being told that only two could return to the premium seats.
“It’s like a mess,” said Martino, who plays keyboard. He said he has gotten no response to any of his emails to customer service.
“We’ve been traveling with them for so many years,” he said. “We don’t know what to do anymore. We’re going to give them another chance and see.”
Ray Neidl, an airline analyst with Maxim Group, said he believes the damage won’t be long-term — as long as problems are fixed soon.
Said Neidl: “As long as you don’t alienate them too long, you won’t lose them.”
Miami Herald Staff Writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.