American cancels flights as labor talks drag on
By Nancy Trejos USA TODAY September 18, 2012 2:04PM
American Airlines, which is fighting with many of its workers as it tries to reduce costs under bankruptcy protection, is cutting flights this month and next by about 1 to 2 percent, and has been cancelling flights at a similar rate lately.
The airline says it will reduce the rest of its September and October schedule because of an increase in pilots calling in sick and in maintenance reports filed by flight crews.
“We are constantly evaluating our schedule based on operational and staffing resources, as well as seasonal demand, making adjustments when necessary,” American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said.
American and its regional arm American Eagle canceled 73, or 2.1 percent, of its flights on Monday and 92, or 2.7 percent of its flights Sunday, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks flights. That was than any other airline. American in July canceled 1.2 percent of its flights in July, according to the latest Transportation Department figures.
Other major carriers canceled 0.9 percent of flights on Sunday and 0.4 percent on Monday.
Huguely says the schedule adjustments will minimize any effect on customers’ travel plans.
American parent company AMR Corp., which declared bankruptcy in November, has been negotiating new agreements with its unions to cut labor costs by as much as $1 billion.
The cancellations come a few days after American imposed new cost-cutting terms on its pilots, including outsourcing more flying jobs to other airlines and terminating one of the pilots’ retirement programs in November. Pilots rejected more-generous terms in the last contract offer from American, which has been under bankruptcy protection since November.
Last week, the union sent out ballots for a strike-authorization vote, although federal officials have not cleared the way for a legal strike at the nation’s third-biggest airline.
Tom Hoban, spokesman for the pilots’ union Allied Pilots Association, says the association has “neither condoned nor supported any kind of sickout.”
He also says the association has not noticed any significant increase in the number of pilots calling out sick.