Air Travel News
Court blocks American from ditching pilots' contract
A week ago, pilots at American Airlines voted down a proposed new contract that the airline said was its last, best offer. That rejection cleared the way for American to ask the bankruptcy court for permission to toss out its existing contract and impose its own terms on pilots, but the court has given a thumbs down to that plan — for now.
If the company is ultimately allowed to impose wages and work rules on pilots with no collective bargaining, there's no telling how pilots will react. The head of American's union, the Allied Pilots Association, was forced to step down after the new contract deal agreed to by him and other union leaders was rejected by the rank and file.
On its website, a communication to members from the new president of the Allied Pilots Association, Keith Wilson, said that the union "has dedicated additional resources to ongoing Strike Preparedness Committee operations" as the confrontation with management intensifies.
American had argued before the court that dumping its existing pilot contract is necessary as part of a larger cost-reduction program in its reorganization. But the judge, in a lengthy decision, ruled that the airline had failed to prove the necessity for two parts of its plan, including 450 pilot furloughs and the outsourcing of flying to other carriers. However, he said American could restate its case and make the request again, which it intends to do.
The court is facing a similar request from AMR management with regard to the flight attendants union, depending on the outcome of an ongoing vote among its members for a newly proposed contract. Mechanics and other ground workers recently voted in favor of a new contract, but by a very slim margin.
"For many months now, we’ve emphasized that AMR management has overreached in their desire to extract more concessions than are warranted to support their reorganization plan in this bankruptcy," said APA's Wilson in a memo to pilot union members. "The bankruptcy process is designed to level the playing field with the competition ? not to bury us underneath it. Clearly management went well beyond what is the industry standard for bankruptcy contracts, and the judge recognized this in his decision today."