DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines says if pilots don’t end actions that are disrupting its flights it will take the union to court.
American says some pilots are calling in sick and filing more maintenance complaints due to a labor-management feud, which is causing a spike in canceled and delayed flights.
A spokesman for the airline, Bruce Hicks, said Thursday that a work slowdown is hurting the company financially and alienating customers. He said American doesn’t want to go to court, “but we will be left with little alternative if (the union) does not take action to stop those pilots who are intentionally harming the operation.”
The Allied Pilots Association said that there is no organized sickout or slowdown. Spokesman Tom Hoban blamed the flight problems on a shortage of pilots and old planes that need frequent maintenance, and said the threat of legal action would further damage frayed relations between labor and management just as the two sides were prepared to resume contract negotiations.
“Within 24 hours of being asked to return to the bargaining table they essentially take a baseball bat to the side of our heads and threaten legal action,” Hoban said. “It’s a sucker punch.”
American and its pilots have had a rocky relationship for years, but things came to a head this summer. After pilots rejected a contract proposal designed to save American more than $300 million per year, American won permission from a federal bankruptcy court to impose new pay, benefit and work rules on pilots this month.
Since early September, American’s cancelations and delays have far outstripped other U.S. airlines. On Thursday, American had already canceled 90 flights or 4.6 percent of its schedule by midmorning. That’s more than five times the rate of cancelations the airline had last September.
American’s on-time record, which fell below 50 percent some days last week, improved to 73 percent Thursday morning, but that was still far worse than rivals United, Delta, Southwest and US Airways.
American and parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in November and are trying to cut annual spending on labor by $1 billion. Other than pilots, American’s other union groups approved cost-cutting contracts.
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