American Airlines gets profitable, thanks to its workforce

American Airlines just posted its first profit in five years -- thanks to working with its union to find ways to cut costs. Only a few years ago, its workers (who'd made huge wage concessions) were ready to go on strike over the fact that management had handed itself fat bonuses and protected its pensions from creditors, but now that the old guard was turfed out and replaced with a CEO who works with labor, the company is turning a profit.
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.

Link (via Kottke)