According to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents crew members at the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier, American Airlines is attempting to cut the minimum amount of time that flight attendants must rest during an international layover to just 10 hours.
Flight attendants are now in contract negotiations with the airline, and AA negotiators have proposed reducing the minimum amount of time that flight attendants must rest during an international layover from 14 hours to just 10 hours in actual operations.
In practice, an international stopover normally lasts at least 24 hours because there may only be one trip per day, requiring flight attendants to spend the full day at the destination before boarding the returning aircraft the next day.
However, in rare situations, American Airlines may be able to arrange flight attendants with far less time in a foreign nation, saving a small sum in the hotel and per diem costs.
A destination with two or more flights per day, for example, could be scheduled such that flight attendants get the least amount of rest possible before flying back to their home base.
According to APFA, the airline is “seeking for a substantial concession” and is pursuing rest provisions for overseas routes. The existing contract guarantees flight attendants at least 14 hours at “international premium destinations.”
The policy would be modeled after a proposed FAA rule requiring flight attendants to rest for at least 10 hours between duty days on domestic flights. The aviation sector has opposed the proposal, and Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines, claims that implementing the regulation will cost its members roughly $100 million per year.
According to APFA, the airline wants to perform the “basic minimum to comply with the law” when it comes to domestic rest regulations, whereas the union wants to add in “buffers” that would give flight attendants even more rest.
On the question of rest in international destinations, however, the two groups are the most divided.
“The idea that one is going to fly to Europe, get to the hotel, settle down and be back at the airport within ten hours is completely unacceptable,” the union told its members in a recent memo outlining the state of contract negotiations.
“We have a number of differences discussed below for both domestic and international rest and other provisions, but this is one area where the company is looking for a major concession, and have been told in no uncertain terms we are not interested,” the memo continued.
“This will be subject to further discussion but the rest, both domestic and international, is a major issue.”
The union is also pressing American Airlines to start compensating flight attendants for boarding, something that has risen even higher on the priority list since Delta announced boarding pay for its flight attendants.
Delta’s decision, according to the labor movement, was made in response to a revived effort to unionize Delta’s flight attendants.