Pilot grievance at Southwest Airlines turns into a good deed

Southwest-AirTran jets nose to nose May 2, 2011.jpg(PHOTO: Terry Maxon/DMN)

Southwest Airlines pilots didn’t like it when they saw Southwest’s name on an AirTran Airways jet last month, said it violated their contract.

But wait — this has a happy ending.

In that photo above, see that little circle on the front of the AirTran jet, the one that says Southwest Airlines around the top of the circle? That’s the jet that carried Southwest and AirTran people from Dallas to Atlanta on May 2, the date that Southwest bought AirTran.

The problem is, Southwest’s contract with its pilots doesn’t let it put its name on other airlines’ aircraft. As is typical in the scope clauses in pilot contracts, the one for Southwest’s pilots says they are supposed to fly planes with Southwest’s name on it.

As a result, the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association filed a grievance covering that flight and the other 13 that AirTran jet made with the Southwest decal on it.

This is where the story differs from a lot of union-management disputes.

“Our pilots have been raising money to buy the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas a new van in Herb Kelleher’s honor. We’ve raised enough for 3 thus far,” wrote SWAPA’s Neal Hanks in an email. “But that’s not particularly interesting.”

What is interesting is the solution.

“To resolve this grievance, SWAPA and the Company decided to add up the average pilot costs for those 14 legs, totaling $13,000 and have the Company donate that money to our RMHD van fund,” he wrote.

Hanks called it “another example of the positive and collaborative relationship between Southwest Airlines and its pilots union.”

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