Pilots say staffing and maintenance, not sick days, responsible for American cancellations
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2012
9/20/12 at 12:22 PM
Continuing coverage: Read more on American Airlines in Tulsa here.
Increased flight delays and cancellations at American Airlines are not due to sick days called in by the airline’s unionized pilots but by management’s failure to provide for adequate staffing and the proper maintenance of aircraft, union officials said Thursday.
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 10,000 American pilots, said there is “no job actions of any sort that is organized, supported or sanctioned by the Allied Pilots Association.”
As a result of an increased number of aircraft that have been pulled from service this week due to mechanical issues, American said Thursday it is reducing the rest of its September and October schedules by 1 percent to 2 percent. The company also said the schedule had to be reduced because of higher-than-normal pilot sick levels.
“For the week of September 17, the company has proactively canceled approximately 300 flights out of the nearly 24,000 departures planned across our network,” American said Thursday.
Spokesmen for the APA said the union independently tracks American’s operational performance and has verified that pilot sick rates are unchanged from historical rates.
“One area of increased operational unreliability we have observed is in mechanical delays, which isn’t surprising,” APA said. “Although American Airlines operates the oldest fleet of any major U.S. carrier, management has decided to furlough a large number of mechanics and close one of its largest maintenance facilities. Management also decided some time ago to reduce its inventory of spare parts.
“In addition, management halted the recalls of furloughed pilots late last year, which has resulted in an insufficient number of pilots to maintain the schedule properly,” the union said.
“APA members are experienced professionals who conduct themselves as professionals under whatever circumstances they encounter. Any negative impact on our airline’s operational integrity is of management’s own making.”
In this 2010 file photo, an American airlines jet prepares to land at Tulsa International Airport. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World File