Reporting Jason Allen
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The union representing pilots for American Airlines sent the strongest message yet to its members Thursday night to immediately stop anything they’re doing to slow down the airline. The message came a day after the airline threatened legal action if weeks of increased sick calls and maintenance reports continued.
The letter from Allied Pilots Association president Keith Wilson was titled “Our Legal Responsibilities.” Wilson said if the APA ended up in court, advisers believe a restraining order would likely be granted. “There is no strategic advantage whatsoever for APA to be placed in that situation,” Wilson wrote.
While defending the measure it has taken to stop a slowdown, including defusing a potential sickout on September 21, Wilson said, “If… pilots are using their professional discretion to delay departures through unnecessary checks, frivolous maintenance write-ups (and late filing), slow taxiing to increase block times, and taking circuitous routes, that activity must cease immediately.” The examples from Wilson were almost word-for-word what American Airlines senior vice president Denise Lynn cited as problems in a letter to pilots Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the APA board of directors walked out of their offices and went home, ending meetings that were scheduled through Friday. “How do you expect to resume collective bargaining when you hold a gun to our heads with the threat of being enjoined by a federal court — it’s mind-boggling,” said APA spokesman Tom Hoban.
Spokesman Bruce Hicks from American Airlines said that the pilots rhetoric doesn’t change the facts of the situation. “The facts are some of the pilots of this airline are disrupting it are ruining customers vacations and business trips,” he said.
Since mid-September, American Airlines said that it has had more than 700 cancellations because of the disruptions, and that only 58 percent of the flights arrived in that same time period.
American Airlines frequent flyer Wes Sarbien said that he hasn’t been affected, but others he knows have. “I have a lot of colleagues who’ve gone over to competitive airlines (Southwest), just because of inconsistencies AA has delivered on its flights. I haven’t been affected yet, but if I am, then I’ll make some changes,” he said.
Retired airline executive Mark Drusch, who worked with Delta and Continental Airlines, said distrust that’s built up on both sides for the past decade is a contributing problem. “Everyone’s got to step back and say, ‘How do we achieve that goal?’” Drusch said. “Erase what’s going on this past six months and 10 years and do what has to be done to move forward. They both are missing opportunities to come to an agreement.”
American Airlines had 22 cancelled flights system-wide on Thursday, and only about 66 percent of flights were on-time.
American Airlines has offered customers who are delayed at least two hours a choice of three options: a full refund if they don’t want to fly that day, re-book on another American Airlines flight without paying a fee, or book a flight on another airline if it’s available.
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