Tensions between American Airlines and its pilots have been impacting passengers with hundreds of flight delays and cancellations, but there may be some movement in the contract standoff on Wednesday.
The company has invited pilots back to the bargaining table. The pilots and American haven’t set a date yet, but the formal invitation by the airline to resume negotiations is a start to ending the stalemate.
Leaders for the Allied Pilots Association will meet at its Fort Worth Headquarters Wednesday afternoon to plot their next stop.
The tension between pilots and the airline boiled over in early September, when a bankruptcy judge allowed American to toss out its pilots contracts. The union rejected the company’s final offer.
American immediately imposed new pay and work rules, which angered pilots.
Since then, passengers have been caught up in the fallout with a series of flight changes.
The airline blames pilots for more maintenance write-ups. The pilots argue that they’re just being cautious, until they say they get a fair deal.
“You’ve got to realize, without the safety net of a contract guys are going to engage in some cautious operational decision-making," says Tom Hoban of the Allied Pilots Association. "This corporation can come in at any time and terminate anyone for cause. So we're going to dot our “i's” and cross our “t’s. It's a lot like pulling up alongside a state trooper on the highway, How are you going to behave? Well, I'm going to go the speed limit. I'm going to use my turn signals. I'm going to do everything I can to stay within the limit of law. It's hard to describe the effect on how we operate, and it does tend to cause to be a bit more cautious because our license are on the line here.”
American is under pressure to reach a compromise with pilots before it emerges from bankruptcy and claims the company has been trying to meet with pilots for weeks. Pilots wanted the invitation back to the bargaining table in writing. The flight attendants and ground workers have already agreed to concessions and have new contracts.
Wednesday morning, NBC5 expects to learn exactly how many of American’s Transport Workers Union members opted for an early retirement option by the midnight deadline, avoiding looming layoffs.