American Airlines is being held to account for offering short-term fixes for long-standing issues as the company heads into the holiday season. The Allied Pilots Association rejected an offer of increased pay during peak periods of the holiday season. The APA represents over 14,000 pilots employed by American Airlines. A similar temporary pay increase was accepted by the airline’s flight attendants union. The pilots were also offered double pay for designated premium flights and overtime days.
The pilots union board voted against the temporary pay increase in the hopes of receiving better working conditions from American Airlines. An APA spokesperson Captain Dennis Tajer told KDFW in Fort Worth, Texas, “The pilots’ problem is in the scheduling flexibility, the quickness in which they glue it back together and the ability to quite frankly get us connected to the airplane.” Trajer cited how flight delays caused by weather combined with stretched crew scheduling led to mass cancellations during Halloween weekend because aircrews literally could not reach their planes.
American Airlines hopes to alleviate the amount of work demand forced onto pilots by hiring more pilots by the thousands. However, Tajer stated that the airline doesn’t have enough instructors to train all of them in a sufficient amount of time. He told KDFW, “The problem is that the instructor pilots, the check airmen as they are called, are leaving and resigning from that job because the work conditions are so horrid.”
Pressure on the company caused by the increased demand of the holiday season might force the carrier to finally address the problems that its employees have had to face for years. With Thanksgiving in less than two weeks, American will have to reach an agreement with its pilots or risk their slate of scheduled flights collapsing with the slightest breeze. While American Airlines is aiming to get through just the next two months without issue, its pilots are hoping to improve conditions for those working at the airline long-term.