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APA: American Sacrifices Passengers and Safety for On-Time Departures

Casually dressed young stylish female traveller checking a departures board at the airport terminal hall in front of check in couters. Flight schedule display blured in the background. Focus on woman.

Pilots’ union accuses carrier of leaving pilots behind to maintain federally-measured rates.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) is once again rallying against American Airlines, now claiming the airline is leaving safety regulations and passengers behind to maintain a high on-time departure rate. In a memo released by the union, the APA claims the Fort Worth-based carrier has left behind over 20,000 passengers while ignoring key safety measures to maintain a high on-time reputation.

In the brief, the union accuses the airline of breaching standard safety measures in order to force pilots to depart their airports on-time. The alleged violations includes asking ramp agents to “disturb sterile cockpit periods” to inquire about late departures and sending messages to pilots via text message or the aircraft operational text message computer when aircraft depart late.

In addition, the union says American has left almost 20,000 passengers stranded at the gate in February 2017 alone, in order to maintain on-time departure rates. To back up the claims, the union says their figure comes from the airline’s jet bridge door closing metric. As a result, the union says that standby flyers were not allowed to board, despite nearly 13,000 aircraft leaving with open seats. The union claims that these flights represent 16 percent of the airline’s total departures during the month.

“While our union brother and sister gate agents are under extraordinary pressure to close the jet bridge and aircraft doors no matter what, we must do everything possible to ensure that no passengers are left behind while seats are empty,” the union writes in their bulletin. They go on to ask pilots to: “Please track the standby passenger list and be aggressively proactive in defending our standby passengers and fellow employees.”

The issue marks the third time unionized workers have spoken out against American this year alone. In January, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants demanded a recall of new uniforms on accusations they made employees ill. In February 2017, the APA filed a “vote of no confidence” against American chief executive Doug Parker. Earlier in March, the APA filed a grievance against American over the state of fatigue among pilots. American has not publicly responded to the allegations.

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SandmanDFW March 26, 2017

Gee, big surprise. Two legacy airlines with long histories of labor union problems merge, only to find the labor union problems have not gone away.