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American Airlines

Personal Incentives Divide Pilots at American Airlines

Personal Incentives Divide Pilots at American Airlines
Jackie Reddy

The body representing thousands of pilots at AA says that it has uncovered an unfair contrast in how line and management pilots are rewarded.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), the body representing approximately 15,000 American Airlines (AA) pilots, says that it has uncovered a sharp dichotomy in how the carrier is rewarding its line and management pilots.

Line pilots are those assigned to general aviation duties for a set salary while management pilots work more days per month, usually in a management role, while still flying.

The union says that it has learned that while AA’s line pilots will receive profit-sharing benefits worth just three percent of their 2016 salaries, its management pilots could receive a payout worth 55 percent of their yearly pay.

In a video on the Allied Pilots Association website, body president Captain Dan Carey said that management pilots could earn a maximum of $192,000. But a spokesperson for AA said that the union is confusing two different kinds of benefit programs.

The spokesperson explained to Forbes that one plan is a profit-sharing program while the other plan involves individual performance-based goals and requires that AA earns $3.5 billion in profit before any benefits can be paid.

AA’s spokesperson told the outlet that, “In profit-sharing, everybody shares in the profits. Management incentive is performance based – you could get zero.”

Earlier this autumn, Doug Parker, the carrier’s CEO, confirmed that, at present, AA ranks fourth in terms of airline compensation, lagging behind Delta, Southwest and United airlines.

However, Carey was quick to rebut Parker’s views, stating that “being fourth does not apply to all of our pilots. Senior management is rewarding every managing director, chief pilot and fleet manager…with industry-leading profit-sharing up to 55 percent of their 2016 W-2 earnings.”

American’s spokesperson has said that these management pilots “participate in the same program as the rest of the company’s incentive program.”

But Dennis Trajer, spokesman for the APA, defended the union’s position, stating, “Management profit-sharing, performance-based management incentive plan or management bonuses […] these are the semantic knives that shred our hope for a true culture change at our airline.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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