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JetBlue Pilots Walk Away from American Airlines Partnership

JetBlue pilots organized under the Air Line Pilots Association are not giving their blessing on a long-planned strategic partnership with American Airlines. The union says that the New York-based airline must provide evidence of job security before they will allow the partnership to move forward.

JetBlue pilots have rejected a plan put forth by their airline which would allow the long-proposed strategic partnership with American Airlines to continue, expressing concerns over job security. In a press release, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) says they want to ensure aviators will stay on the job in order to let the agreement move forward.

Concerns Revolve Around Work Available to Pilots from Both Carriers

According to the union, 92 percent of eligible voters participated, with 53.7 voting against the agreement. If passed, the new covenant would have given JetBlue contractual relief from the 2018 collective bargaining agreement, which the ALPA says “restricts the types of code-share and joint venture agreements JetBlue may undertake.”

“Job security, especially during turbulent points in our industry, is a main concern of every pilot,” said Capt. Chris Kenney, chairman of the JetBlue unit of ALPA. “We train for years and spend nights far from home in order to be a pilot. For any agreement to proceed, JetBlue management must provide acceptable assurances that our jobs are safe and valued for years to come.”

Instead, the ALPA-organized pilots are seeking an additional pay raise, and job security enhancements. Specifically, Kenney said in the press release the workers are seeking “…contractual assurances that protect our jobs and provide meaningful career improvements.”

Equally concerned are ALPA-organized pilots flying for American Airlines. Reuters reports that while American told employees the agreement would be in line with the amount of flying that can be done by other carriers, union representative Dennis Tajer told the news organization: “We’ve never seen a code share at American that has led to more mainline jobs.”

Pilots Disagreement Could Shake Up Agreement Implementation

Until the pilots agree to a change in their contract, the American-JetBlue alliance could be delayed while both sides work out the details. The two began moving forward with alignment in January 2021, after the U.S. Department of Transportation closed their review of the plan.

ewoo February 19, 2021

Collective bargaining is a give and take. If management wants something from the pilots (their support for the code-sharing agreement), the pilots are going to want something back in return.

DeeKayGee February 19, 2021

"Equally concerned are ALPA-organized pilots flying for American Airlines." It would seem that the implication in that sentence is that American Airlines pilots are represented by ALPA. That, of course, is not true. The Allied Pilots Association (APA) is the bargaining unit for pilots at AA. Perhaps the author should inquire how they see the proposed code-share agreement.

AsiaTravel2019 February 18, 2021

I almost agree with the pilots here. It would be better for B6 to either join OW or merge with AA. Not this in-between/codeshare thing

BC Shelby February 17, 2021

@EpsilonZer0 +1 Don't care for it from a passenger standpoint. I'f I make a reservation on a particular airline I do it for the reason that I intend to be on that carrier's flight. Nothing is more disconcerting than to make a reservation on say, Virgin only to find yourself on Delta instead.

EpsilonZer0 February 17, 2021

JetBlue pilots are right to be skeptical. Codeshares never lead to more flights, it actually diminishes the number of flights needed because the two companies are no longer competing against each other for the same route. And with so few planes in the air right now as it is, the JetBlue pilots would be getting the short end of the stick. If American really wants this to happen then they should table this idea for 1-2 years.