American, Pilots Blaming Each Other for Disruptions
So far this week, 48 of the 87 American Airlines flights landing at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were delayed or cancelled. The airline and its pilots are blaming each other for the disruption.
Only about 40 percent of American Airlines flights were on time in Austin this September. That’s down from 86 percent in September of 2011. The airline’s executives think its pilots are to blame. Yesterday, they sent a letter to the pilots’ union, the Allied Pilots Association, asking the union to get its pilots to stop calling in sick and to report only necessary maintenance issues and in a timely matter.
As part of American’s bankruptcy, the airline is laying off pilots and changing benefits packages as a way to save money. Tom Hoban is with the pilot’s union. He says they aren’t organizing an official strike, or even a coordinated sick-out.
“Our sick numbers, which are provided by the corporation, have ranged one percent to either side of our historical statistical average,” Hoban said. “What we’ve got is really a pilot shortage here. We’ve had over 500 retirements in the last year, and on top of that the corporation has admitted they’re short 400 or so pilots to cover the schedule that they want to fly.”
American Airlines declined an interview.