FlightStats.com has some really interesting tools.
I’ve written in the past how to use the site to look up award availability on a variety of airlines.
You can also look up on-time statistics, taking a variety of slices. One of those is looking at a given airline’s stats for the previous, current, and next day.
And looking at yesterday, American Airlines seems to have had to cancel about 5% of its flights.
And already today they’ve cancelled a bit over 5% of their schedule.
As part of its bankruptcy restructuring, American received court approval to make changes to its pilots contract. (Pilots were the only group that didn’t come to a new labor agreement with the airline, voting down a contract sent out by union leadership.)
Last week the airline imposed new terms on its pilots including changes that allow the airline to do more revenue sharing and outsourced regional flying.
Which naturally leads on to wonder whether the flight cancellations are related to the imposition of new contract terms on pilots.. a sick out?
Back in 1999 when American acquired Reno Air, pilots staged a sick out. Under the Railway Labor Act, airline workers can’t unilaterally strike, including through a de facto sick out.
American went to court and got an injunction, the sick out continued, and then the airline obtained a judgment against the pilots union for over $40 million — representing the airline’s losses due to the sickout from the time the injunction was issued until the sick out ended.
The judgment was upheld by a federal appeals court, the union appealed to the Supreme Court which declined to hear the case. The judgment was for an amount greater than the assets of the union. Ultimately American forgave an unpaid $26 million of the judgment as part of its 2003 pilots’ contract.
Currently the pilots union says that they’re even less willing than before to agree to a new contract, now that the airline has imposed new terms. I suspect that’s just a bargaining position, they’re relatively weak after the court voided their existing agreement and the union’s leadership has to take a strong stance since the previous leadership (which had agreed to a contract, but was voted down by the union’s membership) was ousted for being too accomodating.
Is there a sickout underway? I reached out to American Airlines to comment, and here was their statement:
We are constantly evaluating our schedule based on operational and staffing resources, as well as seasonal demand, making adjustments when necessary. The schedule adjustments we are implementing will ensure we provide our customers with reliable service while minimizing any impact to their travel plans.
For what it’s worth, I don’t read that as a denial.