What American Airlines Unions Had To Say About Big Order

American Airlines’ unions responded to the news of the big American Airlines’ aircraft purchase in different ways, although each said it was time for AA management to work out a deal with their employees.

Gary Drummond, director of Transport Workers Union’s Air Transport Division:

“Aircraft are not an airline’s only asset. Planes can’t fix themselves, they can’t load or unload themselves — and they can’t provide the quality customer service that is key to success in the airline industry.

“Today’s announcement was made possible by the significant sacrifices made by TWU members in 2003 to keep American’s planes in the sky. Now it’s time for AMR executives to concentrate on finalizing contracts that will give our members a strong foundation for our future.”

Laura Glading, Association of Professional Flight Attendants president:

“I applaud management’s decision to take the company in a new direction, diversify our fleet, and modernize the in-flight experience for our passengers. I am especially encouraged by the fuel efficiency these new planes will provide. This purchase represents a calculated and strategic move to bring our airline back to profitability. Frankly, it is the first such effort we have seen in years.

“But the work is not done. Shareholders should not be satisfied until management has secured both the physical and human capital to be successful and addressed a labor situation that has lingered for three years. Today’s announcement shows the company is capable of making strategic decisions. We call on management to put the same effort toward reaching a comprehensive agreement with its employees that recognizes the sacrifices flight attendants and others made to avoid bankruptcy and allow for today’s promising announcement.

“That Boeing and Airbus were willing to provide American Airlines with favorable financing terms is a testament to the sacrifices that Flight Attendants and others made in 2003 when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Without the generous salary and benefits givebacks of the APFA, totaling over $2 billion, American Airlines would have neither the capital nor credit needed to make such an ambitious purchase.

“Now that the Board of Directors has made this important and forward thinking decision, it is time to address the needs of the employees that will enable these new planes to fly, particularly we Flight Attendants that have been negotiating a new contract for over three years. The introduction of the Airbus A320 family shines a bright light on all of the unionized employees who will need to be trained and certified to operate and maintain the new equipment.

“I have already had extensive conversations with American Airlines management about this development and how it relates to our ongoing contract negotiations. I look forward to continuing our contract talks in light of this new reality. In fact, I will be writing to each member of the American Airlines Board of Directors urging them to jump start negotiations by utilizing this new optimism in the company’s direction.”

Dave Bates, Allied Pilots Association president:

“Your APA leadership welcomes the news that American Airlines will take delivery of a large number of new aircraft, which will have a favorable effect on fuel consumption, fleet reliability, the quality of the customer experience and the overall strength of our network. In addition, the financing terms associated with the order will help to bolster the airline’s balance sheet.

“Investing in our airline on such a large scale represents a major vote of confidence in American Airlines’ future by Boeing, Airbus and the parties involved in the financing. In addition to addressing the need to re-fleet, this large order may also position American Airlines for growth, which would obviously be excellent news for our pilots. In concert with the airline’s substantial number of wide-body aircraft orders, today’s announcement could accelerate recalls and serve as the catalyst for an increased number of captain jobs, generating long-awaited seat movement for pilots now on the property and demand for new-hire pilots.

“During the past several years, many industry observers have characterized AMR management as overly cautious and indecisive. The magnitude of this aircraft order clearly indicates that management intends to adopt a more aggressive competitive posture.

“Another point worth noting–rather than putting forth the possibility of an aircraft order to induce contract ratification with APA, management made the announcement without linking it to specific contractual provisions in a new pilot contract. I view this as another indication that management sincerely seeks an improved relationship with our pilots.

“That noted, APA and management do need a new collective bargaining agreement that includes pay rates for aircraft types not currently on the property, and I am hopeful that management will now dedicate their energies to completing negotiations promptly with APA.”

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