May 8, 2007
US Airways Pilots Doubt Management’s Ability to Sustain
Pilots Demonstrate Frustration and Fury Over Growing List of Management Failures
PHOENIX—As operations continue to deteriorate at the new US Airways [NYSE: LCC], the airline’s passengers and employees are bearing the brunt of poor decisions made by a management team that is more interested in lining their pockets than in fulfilling their promises of building a better airline.
Demonstrating their frustration and fury over management’s growing list of failures, the US Airways pilots of the former America West, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l (ALPA), today picketed the 16th Annual International Aviation Symposium in Phoenix, Ariz., where top executives from US Airways will join their counterparts from other airlines and government officials to discuss “New Strategies for Success.” Management’s blunders have further unified the labor groups in their efforts to achieve fair contracts and provide passengers with world-class service, and the America West flight attendants, who are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), joined the pilots on the picket line.
Though US Airways has been financially successful to date, the pilots have serious doubts that this will continue unless management merges the two airlines. Reaching a fair, single contract with the pilots would be a significant step toward completing the merger and eliminating many of the problems US Airways passengers encounter as a result of running two separate operations. Although ALPA and US Airways management have been engaged in negotiations for such an agreement for more than a year and a half, management is only now presenting the pilots with their first complete economic proposal.
“We’ve experienced more than our fair share of pain during our industry’s economic downturn while management was given carte blanche by the federal government to severely limit our pay, benefits, work rules and overall quality of lives while reaping the rewards of our sacrifices,” said Captain John McIlvenna, America West MEC Chairman. “US Airways’ long-term success depends upon management’s ability to complete the merger of these two carriers, implement real solutions addressing their deficiencies with passenger service, and resolve the ongoing labor disputes with their front-line employees. Once again, in lieu of addressing the real problems of US Airways, management has launched a feel-good passenger service initiative and formed a task force to study what should be an obvious problem. This makes for good public relations but does nothing to solve the myriad of operational problems. It’s time for management to recognize our contributions in making US Airways fly at the bargaining table and start building the world-class airline management promised employees, investors and passengers.”
During the industry downturn following 9/11, the pilots of America West and US Airways agreed to significant reductions in pay and benefits to satisfy bankruptcy court provisions and severe ATSB loan restrictions. The pilots also agreed to work schedules that would maximize their work time, severely impacting their quality of life. These sacrifices were made to ensure the survivability of US Airways, not to support inflated management compensation packages.
US Airways' financial success is undeniable. After the merger of US Airways and America West, the airline quickly became prosperous, posting an operating profit of $507 million in 2006. US Airways CEO Doug Parker received $14.4 million in compensation and benefits for 2006 and was also the highest- paid airline CEO in 2005.
Operationally, however, US Airways' performance has been dismal, and passengers are growing weary of the airline's inability to deal with these issues which cannot be addressed simply by implementing quick-fix service initiatives. Merging America West and US Airways into a single airline would go a long way in eliminating many of the core operational issues and would allow management to capture additional synergies for US Airways’ passengers, investors and employees.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing 60,000 pilots at 40 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
# # #
Captain Tania Bziukiewicz: (602) 214-3490, (602) 306-1208
Lydia Jakub: (602) 306-1208, (480) 586-5873