Two passengers who were kept aboard American Airlines jets on the ground for more than nine hours in 2006 have sued the airline, saying...

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Two passengers who were kept aboard American Airlines jets on the ground for more than nine hours in 2006 have sued the airline, saying they deserve compensation for being imprisoned against their will.

The plaintiffs, Kathleen Hanni of Napa, Calif., and Catherine Ray of Fayetteville, Ark., want courts to certify the cases as class actions covering thousands of passengers stranded on American flights when severe weather shut the Dallas/Fort Worth airport Dec. 29, 2006, forcing flights to go to other airports.

The complaints allege passengers suffered hunger, thirst, illness, emotional distress and financial losses when American failed to supply food or water, empty the toilets or let passengers off the planes.

American spokesman John Hotard declined to comment, saying he had not seen the complaints. He noted that since December 2006, American has new procedures that include a guideline to limit ground delays to four hours when possible and to let passengers deplane when safe to do so.

The cases come amid public and congressional calls for stronger regulation of how airlines treat customers.

China Eastern Airlines

Singapore offer hits turbulence

Air China’s parent said Tuesday an offer by Singapore Airlines for a stake in China Eastern Airlines did not reflect fair value and asked both parties to renew talks.

Opposition by China National Aviation, which holds about 10 percent of China Eastern’s minority shareholders, may scuttle the $918 million sale, which needs approval from two-thirds of the minority shareholders to pass next Tuesday.

Singapore Air and parent Temasek Holdings want to buy 24 percent of China Eastern to expand in China’s growing aviation market.

China National Aviation Chairman Li Jiaxiang, who turned Air China into the world’s biggest airline by market value, aims to build a domestic “super carrier” as it competes internationally with Singapore Air and Japan Airlines.

Lufthansa

Expansion calls for hiring spree

Deutsche Lufthansa, Europe’s second-largest airline, plans to hire about 4,300 new employees in Germany this year as it adds planes and destinations.

Andreas Bartels, a spokesman for the Cologne, Germany-based carrier, confirmed today a report in the Bild Zeitung newspaper about the expansion.

H&R Block

CEO who quit will get $2 million

H&R Block said former Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Ernst will receive a $2.55 million cash severance payment.

The Kansas City, Mo., provider of tax, accounting and other financial services said in a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Ernst, who resigned last month as chairman and chief executive, also quit the company’s board Friday.

Compiled from USA Today, Bloomberg News and Dow Jones/The Associated Press