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AMR Confronts the Bears

DALLAS (TheStreet) -- Sometimes it seems that the deck is stacked against American Airlines (AMR).

Regulators in the U.S. and Europe have not approved American's bid for antitrust immunity with key transatlantic partners, even though they long ago awarded the very same advantage to American's competitors.

American's pilots are not only among the industry's highest paid: They are also the most cantankerous. On Wall Street, American constantly faces unwarranted bankruptcy speculation, even though -- or perhaps because -- it is the only major carrier never to have filed for bankruptcy.

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And over the past year, since it merged with Northwest to become the world's largest airline, Delta (DAL) has flexed its muscles at key airports around the world -- often at American's expense.

On some days, American CEO Gerard Arpey must just want to scream.

"None of these things are life-threatening, but some of them are important," says Avondale Partners analyst Bob McAdoo. "Taken all together, they are probably enough to drive Gerard up a wall." Adds aviation consultant Robert Mann: "It's as if Gerard doesn't want to open the newspaper anymore."

American spokesman Roger Frizzell says Arpey is undaunted. Several times in recent years, Arpey has told senior leadership, "We're not victims," Frizzell said. "He makes it clear that even though there are elements of our business we cannot control, there are also things we can control. If you do that, you have a better chance of succeeding through the tough times, no matter what comes at you."

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