Top executives at troubled US carrier American Airlines yesterday finally understood the concept of multiplication, and immediately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In a high-level meeting, Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey walked up to the flip chart and said "Hang on, let me think outside the box for a moment." He then proceeded to fire off two questions: the first; "How much is our average return fare?" brought an answer of "about $200 boss" from the Chief Financial Officer and the second; "How many people do you get on a 737?" yielded "162 in a two-class configuration" from the Head of Operations.
The room then collectively gasped as Arpey proceeded to write $200 x 162 = $32,400 in large letters with a magic marker. He turned to the stunned audience and asked how much jet fuel you got for $32,400, and then some other questions about how much aircraft cost to maintain, pilot's salaries, airport landing fees, office rental, etc.
Ending inspired by Griffin
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme, Jay Krissmeyer, a Wall Street Analyst, commented "There is a long history of the world not ending when an airline goes bankrupt. However, in America bankruptcy is different. Chapter 11 gives the good folks in charge a grace period during which they can continue to take customers' money and run up even bigger debts with suppliers, not to mention negotiate a pleasant severance package and walk out the door 24hrs before the planes finally stop flying. I understand in Europe bankruptcy is a bad thing. How quaint!"