Concerted and expensive efforts by American Airlines to avoid another operational meltdown over what is expected to be busy Thanksgiving and Holiday travel season has been dealt a serious blow after the Allied Pilots Association (APA) rejected a bonus pay offer late on Tuesday.
The labor union which represents around 15,000 pilots at the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier appeared to use the prospect of holiday travel chaos as a bargaining chip in a long-running dispute with American Airlines for “meaningful” permanent improvements to pilots contracts.
The 20-person APA board outright rejected the bonus offer put forward by American Airlines but the union reassured pilots that its committee had “thoroughly considered all aspects of the proposed LOA (letter of agreement) before voting 20-0 to reject it.”
Under the proposed offer, AA was offering to pay pilots 50 percent extra for working on peak days during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year periods. Reserve pilots who agreed to work on their days off over the same peak periods would have been paid 100 percent extra.
Similar deals have already been struck with labor unions representing flight attendants and engineers.
Flight attendants will rake in 150 percent pay if they turn up as scheduled to work flights between November 23 and November 29, as well as between December 22 and January 2, 2022.
Those earnings could then be doubled to 300 percent pay if flight attendants don’t go sick between November 15 through January 2, 2022.
American Airlines has been keen to avoid a repeat of its Halloween weekend operational meltdown that saw the carrier cancel or delay thousands of flights. The disruption started off with just a few hours of bad weather in the Dallas area but quickly snowballed due to a lack of staff.
It’s rumored that staffing woes were made worse by unusually high employee sickness levels.
“While understanding that its rejection creates a disparity among our fellow work groups that have accepted management’s proffered incentives, the Board concluded that the need to achieve meaningful permanent improvements in a new collective bargaining agreement must remain APA’s focus,” the union said in a memo to its members.
On Tuesday, AAA predicted Thanksgiving travel would hit near pre-pandemic levels with as many as 53.4 million Americans choosing to travel over the holidays and putting a strain on stretched capacity at some of the biggest U.S. airlines.
The insurance group suggested travelers should turn up for domestic flights, at least two hours before departure, while international flyers should aim to arrive at the airport at least three hours before scheduled departure.
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.