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Why Are Pilots Still Unhappy at American?

From allegations of inadequate salaries to problems with uniforms, unionized pilots at American Airlines say their grievances with the carrier has gone too far. In their most recent memo, the Allied Pilots Association accused the airline of short-changing aviators with profit sharing – a claim one analyst is outcrying against.

American Airlines and their pilots union, the Allied Pilots Association (APA) have been at odds over the past two years. From allegations that new uniform selections were toxic, to accusing the airline of putting “profits over people,” the pilots have regularly taken grievances to the court of public opinion. However, at least one stock analyst says their latest cries of being underpaid are simply a case of bad management.

FlyerTalk first reported on APA claims of profit sharing inequity in February 2018, alongside accusations of lower-class hotel selections from their new hospitality program administrator. In their public memo, they accused the Dallas-based airline of offering less profit sharing back to flyers than legacy competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

“Unfortunately, the proportional disparity continues,” the union wrote in their memo. “Not only do we deeply trail our peers at Delta and United in terms of profit-sharing pools…our chief pilots and other managers are partaking in profit-sharing percentages that are exponentially higher than ours and will award them tens of thousands of dollars more than [the pilots].”

But in an editorial written by The Motley Fool, analysts claim union negotiators are short-sighted. Although they note that Delta pilots do earn more in profit sharing than American aviators, Delta also has a stronger bottom line. Furthermore, American also offered a mid-contract raise to pilots in a show of goodwill, increasing pilot wages by eight percent and flight attendant wages by five percent.

“Management’s goodwill gestures haven’t done anything to appease the pilots (or at least the leaders of the pilot union),” Adam Levine-Weinberg writes for The Motley Fool. “It appears that the pilots — who are already very well compensated – won’t be content until they are the best-paid pilots in the industry at all times.”

In the middle of the battle are flyers and investors, who are caught between pilots’ discord with management. While Levine-Weinberg advises stock buyers to stay away from American (while owning Delta stock), flyers have not yet decided which side they are on. In the February 2018 Air Travel Consumer Report, American reported over 32 million passengers boarded their aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 3.9 percent from the same period in 2016.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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beyond February 22, 2018

It's a crazy contradiction for pilots to constantly be demanding more $/fewer hours when so many live so far from their home base. You can't claim you're not well-rested, whether due to the hours or quality of the hotel, when in fact you're having to fly in from a distant location to start your trip. If police/fire departments can require employees to live within the city, why couldn't airlines require crew to live within X miles of the home base so they're not flying in from everywhere, potentially disrupting schedules if they fail to arrive? Also - when they have such enormous disparities based on plane type, and not hours/duties there will be resentments built-in. Why not publish the actual salaries by plane type instead of talking % raise? Then you'd see how the most senior pilots do the least, while getting by far the most.

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ScroogeMcFlyer February 19, 2018

Pilots are so greedy that they will bankrupt the airlines again. We've seen it before and it will happen again. Greed pure and simple.