On the eve of the first court hearing since American Airlines declared bankruptcy last month, a bankruptcy judge in New York on Monday gave preliminary approval for the Fort Worth-based carrier to receive a batch of new planes.
The jets, mostly Boeing 737-800’s, are set to be delivered through the end of 2012.
Meanwhile, creditors are lining up in a bid to get paid first.
Among them is Freshpoint Dallas Inc., a produce company that claims it is owed nearly $17,000 for pineapples, peppers, potatoes, and other fresh food.
A Freshpoint spokesman declined to comment when reached on Monday. The bankruptcy is quickly accumulating a small mountain of paperwork.
The court now lists 236 different documents filed by various companies and groups. Some of the filings are dozens of pages each. Some 22 documents were filed on Monday alone.
Meanwhile, leaders of employee groups have posted videos online to warn of cuts to pensions and other benefits.
“This is a very difficult, uncertain time for us all,” said Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “I am disappointed that the state of the company is such that management felt its only option was to take this drastic step."
In a separate video posted on American Airlines’ website, new CEO Tom Horton defended the bankruptcy filing as a necessary and responsible step that better allows American to compete with other airlines that have already declared bankruptcy.
“We can and will reaffirm American's place among the world's premiere airlines,” Horton said.
Another bankruptcy hearing is set in New York for Dec. 22. Experts say the bankruptcy process will likely last at least a year.
"They do have some things to take care during the course of the case with regards to the restructuring before they get to the bankruptcy plan process, but I think 12 to 18 months is do-able," said Mark Ralston, a Dallas bankruptcy attorney not involved in American's case.