By Jack Fink

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – American Airlines has sent a letter to the Allied Pilots Association, threatening legal action if the company is forced to continue cancellations due to an increase in pilot sick calls and maintenance requests.

The airline would not disclose the entire letter sent to the pilots union, but released a statement about it, which reads: “We do not want to pursue a legal remedy, but we will be left with little alternative if APA does not take action to stop those pilots who are intentionally harming the operation. American’s operations have continued to suffer for more than a week now, and we must take the appropriate steps to ensure our customers and our airline are protected.”

It goes on to say, “The recent conduct by some of our pilots is inflicting economic damage on the company, frustrating and alienating our customers, and driving unnecessary work and significant stress for other employees. Our goal remains for all of us to put this recent behavior behind us and turn to the critical task of operating a more efficient, competitive airline in the interests of all economic stakeholders, including our pilots, and begin the joint task of finding common ground for a new pilot agreement.”

American Airlines has blamed pilots for intentionally causing a slow down in their operations, while the pilots union denies any organized effort to impact operations. Last week, American Airlines apologized to customers and announced that it would be proactively canceling up to two percent of its flights through October.

Meanwhile, earlier on Wednesday, the Allied Pilots Board of Directors met to reaffirm their decision to enter into new contract talks with American Airlines. They spent about five hours behind closed doors to strategize for those sessions. They were set to meet again all day Thursday and Friday, but pilots union said that the talks are now highly unlikely. “Within 24 hours of being invited back to the bargaining table, they threatened us with legal action, which just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Tom Hoban with the Allied Pilots Association. “It’s a bit like being ambushed. We felt like it was a sucker punch.”

It was Monday of this week when American Airlines told the union that it wanted to re-engage in those talks. The Allied Pilots Association plans to release another statement about the situation later on Thursday.

The pilots union is in the process of asking its members to vote to go on strike. That ends next Wednesday, October 3. While the pilots cannot legally strike, it would certainly continue to draw another line in the sand.

Finally, on Wednesday, the airline confirmed that nearly 1,600 maintenance employees will accept its “early out” offer. Because that number is so high, American Airlines said, it will substantially reduce the number of forced losses. The airline is not sure what the final number of losses will be, but said that most of the moves will start in December.

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