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April 1, 2002
Pilot Leaders of American Eagle and American Airlines Call for Job Security Through Transition to Single Carrier
WASHINGTON, DC---The following letter was released today by the pilot leaders of the American Eagle Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association, and the Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing American Airlines pilots:
Over the last several weeks, AMR management has made several confusing and misleading statements with regard to the ASM and block-hour limitation provision of the American Airlines pilots’ contract. We want to set the record straight.
On February 1, American Eagle management said that the only way for Eagle to stay underneath the ASM cap was to cancel unprofitable cities, reduce frequencies, park aircraft, and consider selling Executive Airlines. Such actions would clearly result in the furlough of American Eagle pilots. As you know, the Allied Pilots Association made a proposal to management on January 18 that was designed to address management’s stated need to preserve commuter feed to American Airlines and keep the carrier’s recovery going strong. The ultimate effect of APA’s proposal would have been to combine American Airlines and American Eagle. It has never been APA’s intention to cause any additional furloughs at American Eagle or to use this proposal as short-term "furlough protection" for the American Airlines pilots. The proposal is designed to meet APA’s long-term goals by eliminating any scope concerns.
APA made its proposal in response to management’s request for relief from the ASM and block-hour caps that are in effect due to the furlough of American Airlines pilots. American Eagle President Peter Bowler, commenting on the proposal, said that he "was a little confused about how it works." He went on to say that it was not a realistic proposal and that if it were good idea, someone else would have done it. In his February 13 message, American Eagle VP Flight Operations Ed Criner expressed "great concern" about the "continued job security" of Eagle pilots if management were to agree to APA’s proposal. "If APA’s offer was accepted, it is foreseeable that Eagle pilots would continually be displaced from their equipment and hundreds of our pilots would be furloughed," Criner wrote. American Airlines management responded by indicating that it did not have any interest in even discussing APA’s proposal. Criner’s "great concern" about the prospect of displacements and furloughs is nothing more than a classic fear grenade with no factual basis.
In a letter to American Eagle employees on March 14, Bowler said "…unless there is a breakthrough in discussions between AA and its pilots union, we may still be required to proceed with a sale of our Executive and Miami operations at some point in the future." It is hard to imagine that anyone would see this for anything other that what it is: an attempt to circumvent the ASM and block-hour caps. At best, selling off Eagle piecemeal in this fashion would be a definite gamble that does nothing to address the longer-term problem or to enhance shareholder value. Rather than trying to negotiate a solution with APA, AMR management has pulled from their playbook the same old whipsaw tactic. Our pilot groups will not be fooled, and we will not allow management to divide our collective membership.
One of APA’s biggest concerns is the continued outsourcing of mainline flying (flying that is not intended to provide feed) to American Eagle and other commuter air carriers. AMR management has made it clear that "small jets" such as those flown by American Eagle and the American Connection are revenue generators and not feeder aircraft. In 1987, the APA agreed to a "Commuter Air Carrier" exemption to their scope clause. It was never APA’s intention to exempt a major airline such as American Eagle from the scope clause. By combining American Eagle into American Airlines, Eagle would no longer be a competitor to AA.
Meanwhile, there is a very real, ongoing threat to Eagle pilots’ job security in the form of American Connection carriers Trans States and Chautauqua. These carriers have been replacing Eagle in a variety of markets. If not for the ASM and block-hour caps in the American Airlines pilots’ contract, it is conceivable that the outsourcing of Eagle’s flying to the American Connection carriers might well be accelerated.
The leadership at APA and the Eagle ALPA MEC remain convinced that the best solution for all concerned is to transition to one carrier operated under the American Airlines banner. Although management decided not to enter discussions in response to APA’s January 18 proposal, American management and the APA will be addressing the commuter affiliate issue during the course of their current Section 6 negotiations.
As this situation continues to develop, we will keep you informed.
Captain Jim Higgins
American Eagle ALPA MEC Chairman
Captain John E. Darrah
ALPA is the world’s oldest and largest airline pilot union. It represents 64,000 airline pilots at 45 carriers in the U.S. and Canada.
The Allied Pilots Association (APA) serves as collective bargaining agent for the 11,000 pilots of American Airlines. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, APA was founded in 1963. The union’s web site address is www.alliedpilots.org.
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American Eagle MEC Contact: James Magee, (972) 896-5317
APA Contact: Gregg Overman, (817) 302-2250