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jetBlue Pilots Reject Major Strategic Alliance With American Airlines Over Job Security Fears

jetBlue Pilots Reject Major Strategic Alliance With American Airlines Over Job Security Fears

JetBlue pilots represented by the Allied Pilots Association (ALPA) have rejected a tentative agreement that would have allowed the airline to move ahead with a major strategic and codesharing alliance with American Airlines. The proposed alliance recently cleared a major hurdle after gaining regulatory approval from the Department of Transport (DOT).

Pilots narrowly rejected the plans with nearly 54 per cent of voting pilots opposing the deal. Pilots fear the strategic alliance could threaten job security and JetBlue hasn’t done enough to convince pilots that jobs are safe in the longterm.

As part of a 2018 negotiated collective bargaining agreement, jetBlue was restricted from making certain codeshare and joint venture agreements with other airlines. The rejected tentative agreement was meant to give relief to jetBlue to proceed with the American Airlines deal for at least the next 10-years.

In return, jetBlue pilots had asked for a pay rise and increased job security. ALPA says the job security offered in the rejected agreement doesn’t go far enough.

“Job security, especially during turbulent points in our industry, is a main concern of every pilot,” commented Captain Chris Kenney, chairman of the JetBlue unit of ALPA. “We train for years and spend nights far from home in order to be a pilot. For any agreement to proceed, JetBlue management must provide acceptable assurances that our jobs are safe and valued for years to come.”

“If JetBlue wants this full partnership with American to be implemented and successful, they will need the pilots to be part of it. To do that, JetBlue management must show the same level of commitment to its pilots with contractual assurances that protect our jobs and provide meaningful career improvements,” Kenney continued.

The proposed alliance promises “seamless connectivity” between New York (JFK, LGA and EWR) and Boston (BOS). jetBlue says the alliance will allow it to significantly expand its service at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), as well as further expand in other NYC airports and in Boston.

The airline also says the deal will enable it to “reactivate” otherwise idle aircraft that have been grounded since the start of the pandemic. The DOT dropped a review of the alliance on condition that both jetBlue and American Airlines divested some of its slots in the New York City area.

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