NEW YORK (AP) – It’s no secret that American and Southwest Airlines like to compete for passengers and gate space but this is ridiculous.
Just before 11 a.m. Tuesday at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, American Airlines Flight 1104 from Dallas was taxiing to its gate and Southwest Airlines Flight 449 to Denver was departing when the planes got too close for comfort and the American jet ripped a wingtip off the Southwest plane.
No passengers on either plane were injured.
The left winglet – a vertical fin at the tip of a wing designed to improve airflow and fuel efficiency – was ripped off the Southwest plane after it made contact with the American jet’s left horizontal stabilizer, part of the tail. Both planes were Boeing 737s.
American spokesman Joshua Freed said in an email that the airline’s plane “was taxiing with the help of ground personnel walking near each wingtip.”
The 143 Southwest passengers and five crew members exited the jet via stairs and were then taken by bus off the tarmac. The aircraft was taken out of service for inspection and repairs. Southwest is finding alternative ways to get the passengers to their destination, according to spokesman Brad Hawkins.
The American plane, with 143 passengers and six crew members, made it to gate D7 and passengers left the aircraft via the jet bridge. The return flight to Dallas has been delayed at least 3 hours.
The Southwest jet moved out of the taxiway on its own power, according to Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport. Marsico said there are no other delays because of this accident and that the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating