The Allied Pilots Association (APA) rejected a bonus pay offer late Tuesday, dealing a significant blow to American Airlines’ concerted and costly efforts to avert another operational meltdown during what is likely to be a busy Thanksgiving and Holiday travel season.
In a long-running battle with American Airlines about “significant” permanent adjustments to pilot contracts, the labor union that represents approximately 15,000 pilots at the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier attempted to exploit the potential of holiday travel disruption as a negotiating tool.
The APA’s 20-member board flatly rejected American Airlines’ bonus offer, but the union informed pilots that its committee “carefully evaluated all aspects of the proposed LOA (letter of agreement) before voting 20-0 to reject it.”
AA was promising to pay pilots 50% more for working on peak days over the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays under the proposed offer. Reserve pilots who volunteered to work on their days off during peak seasons would have received a 100% bonus.
Labor groups representing flight attendants and engineers have already reached similar agreements.
If flight attendants show up on time for work between November 23 and November 29, as well as between December 22 and January 2, 2022, they will be paid 150 percent more.
If flight attendants do not become sick between November 15 and January 2, 2022, their salary might be boosted to 300 percent.
American Airlines has been determined to avoid a repetition of the carrier’s Halloween weekend operational disaster, which saw thousands of flights canceled or delayed.
The outage began with a few hours of terrible weather in the Dallas area, but it gradually escalated owing to a staffing shortage.
Staffing issues are said to have been exacerbated by exceptionally high employee sickness rates.
“While understanding that its rejection creates a disparity among our fellow workgroups 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.
According to AAA, Thanksgiving travel will be near pre-pandemic levels, with up to 53.4 million Americans planning to travel over the holidays, putting a strain on some of the country’s largest airlines’ capacity.
Travelers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before scheduled departure for domestic flights, and three hours before scheduled departure for international flights, according to the insurance company.