The outgoing head of the union that represents flight attendants at American Airlines has hit out at chief executive, Doug Parker in a strongly-worded open letter in which she tells him to stop referring to flight attendants at ‘team members’ because they no longer feel part of a team.
The letter from Lori Bassani, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) follows the announcement from American that the airline’s 28,000 flight attendants would receive just 1.4 per cent of their annual pay in a profit-sharing bonus.
“… your Flight Attendant “team” members respectfully ask you to stop referring to us as a team — because we are not. All of the corporate slogans and communications gimmicks are an obvious, but failed attempt to confuse reality with rhetoric,” Bassani tells Parker in the letter.
“When we pull the curtain back, our everyday reality makes so many Flight Attendants feel undervalued, overstressed and overlooked,” she continues, telling Parker that morale is currently at rock bottom and that 2019’s profit-sharing payout has “failed to deliver.”
During last week’s full-year results, American revealed that it had accumulated $213 million for its profit-sharing bonus scheme (up $38 million on 2018). That equates to just 1.4 per cent of an average flight attendant’s annual leave.
In contrast, Delta’s $1.6 billion profit-sharing bonus will give flight attendants an average bonus of 16.6 per cent of their normal annual salaries. Meanwhile, United’s flight attendants are looking at a 6.93 per cent annual bonus and Southwest Airlines has announced a record $667 million profit-sharing bonus – boosted in part by a payout from Boeing over the grounding of the 737MAX.
“It is quite plainly insulting and unacceptable that the AA Corporate and Inflight Leadership ‘Team’ has failed us again with this profit-sharing shell game,” Bassani hits out.
American’s performance in 2019 was hit by the Boeing 737MAX grounding, as well as widespread delays and cancellations caused by maintenance issues – in part because of an ongoing dispute with its engineers over contract negotiations.
The Dallas Fort-Worth-based airline expects its first-quarter 2020 earnings to be flat year on year but says it expects to see continued improvements in its reliability metric throughout 2020.
Bassani will step down from her role later this year once an election process has concluded. The new head of the world’s largest independent flight attendants union will then be entering new contract negotiations which will no doubt include profit-sharing bonuses.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.