AMR Pilots Fire Back At Company Over Talks

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Published: February 29, 2012

The union representing pilots at American Airlines on Tuesday said the bankrupt carrier has little interest in reaching a consensual deal with the workers as it strives to slash staff costs by USD$ 1.25 billion.

The comments in a letter from Allied Pilots Association President Dave Bates to members follow an update from American’s parent AMR on Friday, saying it needs deals in “a matter of weeks” and that it does not have the “luxury of time.”

“To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. Management can choose how they handle bankruptcy restructuring,” Bates said.

AMR said in its update on Friday it hopes to reach consensual deals, rather than have terms imposed on workers by the court. The carrier had said talks would resume this week.

AMR filed for Chapter 11 protection on November 29, citing uncompetitive labour costs after years of fruitless talks with its unions. The carrier says it must cut 13,000 jobs as part of a plan to trim costs by USD$ 2 billion, including USD$ 1.25 billion in employee-related expenses.

American has almost 74,000 full and part-time employees and its regional carrier American Eagle has about 14,000 full- and part-time employees.

The carrier said it expects to trim about 4,600 mechanics and related jobs, about 4,200 fleet service workers, about 2,300 flight attendants, about 1,400 management and support staff, and about 400 pilots.

Bates said in his letter that some AMR pilots plan to resign and fly instead for Chinese carriers.

Unlike its rivals United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, AMR did not restructure in bankruptcy in the last 10 years. The carrier restructured out of court, winning voluntary concessions from workers.

United and Delta, however, emerged stronger from bankruptcy and later found merger partners. Those airlines are profitable while AMR posted a net loss of USD$ 1.1 billion for the fourth quarter.

American has said it lost USD$ 10 billion over the past decade, a period marked mainly by industry downturns triggered by the 2001 hijack attacks, recession, and skyrocketing fuel prices.

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