The union which represents flight attendants at both Alaska and United Airlines wants Boeing to pay them compensation for loss of earnings related to the three-week grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 following an accident onboard an Alaska Airlines flight on January 6.
Following an FAA review of inspection and maintenance procedures for the mid-cabin exit plug installed on certain MAX-9 aircraft, Alaska Airlines returned its first affected airplane service on Sunday.
United Airlines is expected to return its first 737-9 to service on Sunday, although it could take several more days or weeks to inspect and fix all impacted aircraft, and some cancellations are still expected as a result of the debacle.
Alaska Airlines believes the 737-9 grounding has cost it at least $150 million and will seek compensation from the aircraft manufacturer Boeing to cover its losses. That estimate, however, isn’t believed to include losses to earnings suffered by flight attendants and other employees.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) has now written to the CEOs of both Alaska and United Airlines, asking them to seek additional compensation from Boeing on their behalf.
“The grounding of the 737 MAX 9 has caused significant financial losses for Alaska Airlines but also for Alaska AFA flight attendants,” the union’s president, Sara Nelson, wrote in the open letter.
“While some of the economic harm is covered by pay protections included in our collective bargaining agreement, there remain losses due to decreased flying opportunities, less open time, increased commuting challenges and costs, and other losses of income,” the letter continues.
“This letter is to inform you that we believe that the economic harm to flight attendants must be included in the settlement discussions, and we expect the company to seek redress of the economic harm to flight attendants in any settlement,” Nelson wrote.
“The harm to flight attendants is every bit as real as other economic damage to the rest of the company, and we are a beneficiary of the Boeing contract”.
Nelson sent an almost identical version of the letter to United chief executive Scott Kirby on Friday.
Also, on Friday, Alaska Airlines confirmed that it had completed the final inspections on the first group of MAX 9 jets. The first flight to be operated by a 737-9 following the FAA-mandated grounding was Alaska Flight 1146 from Seattle to San Diego.
It takes approximately 12 hours to inspect each aircraft, although it could take longer to complete the process on some aircraft if remedial action is required.
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.