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American Airlines Pilots REJECT Holiday Bonus Pay Offer to Avert Thanksgiving Meltdown

American Airlines Pilots REJECT Holiday Bonus Pay Offer to Avert Thanksgiving Meltdown

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.

View Comments (4)
  • I’m a little surprised but it’s a lot of extra money. I think the issue at hand is a matter of control and the vaccine mandate. The holidays are going to be a good time NOT to fly I have a weird feeling. It could also have a domino effect as the majority of travelers are leisure travelers it might spike the demand as the system fails them and demand may drop like a rock early in 2022 or at least until the mask mandate is lifted.

    • The issue is the APA deserves a new contract and AAG (like usual) will draw the process out for years and demand concessions. Strong-arming the company like this when given the opportunity is the only way to get them to seriously negotiate. The APA should do absolutely nothing more than what’s legally required. Not one minute of extra work until a TA is signed regardless of how many years it takes to get there.

  • In other words, AAA hasn’t changed their guidance on when you should show up to the airport. Hasn’t it always been 2 hrs for domestic and 3 hrs for international? Personally I hate wasting so much time sitting at the airport, and prefer to aim for 1 hrs and 2 hrs, but to each their own.

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