The American Airlines operation was taken down by bad labor relations in the summer of 2019. Mechanics weren’t fixing planes, and writing up minor issues, causing rampant cancellations. The two sides came to an agreement on a contract just before the pandemic, and things have been running smoothly.
But pilot and flight attendant contracts have been in negotiations for years, and things are beginning to turn ugly. Flight attendants have been picketing and I’ve even heard one scold other members of the crew not to do anything extra for customers that helps the company, citing ‘work to rule’ because of contract negotiations.
Meanwhile pilots are the work group that can really ground an airline. A pilot work group slowdown was a big contributor to American Airlines being acquired by US Airways during bankruptcy, when they decided that legacy CEO Tom Horton had to go.
Now the head of the pilot group in Philadelphia is advising junior American Airlines pilots to go apply for a pilot job at Delta telling them they’ll be better off, as first reported by aviation watchdog JonNYC.
— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) February 9, 2023
Here’s the message:
Fellow PHL Pilots,
Below is a chart provided by Delta Management that outlines the disparity in profit sharing between Delta, United, and American. Since we are employed by American, we will only focus on the disparity between Delta and American Airlines.
Not that we want to rub it in, but pilots at Delta will make substantially more than pilots here at American. This is even before Delta’s industry-leading pay rates take effect. This disparity is only further worsened by this management’s insistence that all wholly owned employees be included in the total profit sharing pool, which reduces the profit sharing payout for American Airlines pilots by about 10%. So even if this management team can figure out how to match Delta profits, we will still receive 10% less profit sharing as a result of the larger payout pool here at American.
Many pilots have told us that improved quality of life is a “must have” in our next agreement. Since the release of the Delta TA, we have been consistently asked by our newer pilots whether they should remain here at American or possibly jump ship and head to the more lucrative and pilot-friendly Delta. While this determination is ultimately the decision of each individual, we can tell these pilots that if the past action by this management is any indication of how things will go, this “cost advantage on the backs of its pilots” management team will not change and will not come close to what Delta pilots enjoy as it pertains to quality of life. Let them prove us wrong.
With this in mind, and thinking of our newer pilots with less than 5 years here at American, we thought it would be helpful for pilots to see the upgrade DOH for the two most recent Vacancy Bids at Delta. We have been told by newer pilots that they came to American because of the quick upward movement and upgrades. Not so fast! Delta’s most recent bid includes upgrades after just a few months at Delta. Captain upgrades with less than 1 year seniority highlighted in yellow.
A=CA B=FO 765=767-400 7ER =757/767-300
No one knows what our next contract will include, but we can’t just ignore this management’s history. Specifically, its unwillingness to improve work rules/quality of life. We know it will be difficult for even this management to offer anything less than the new standard when it comes to pay, However, we believe, unfortunately, that’s where it will end. If you’re OK with Delta $$ (at least initially) and spending the next 25-35 years of your life working with horrific work rules and little scheduling flexibility, then do nothing and just live with it.
However, if bottom-of-the-industry quality of life isn’t what you signed on for as a professional airline pilot, and quality of life is important to you, we strongly recommend you APPLY TO DELTA NOW AS A PLACEHOLDER, and at least start the process and get in line so if our management continues with their “just say no” approach, you’re ready to make the move. As difficult as it may seem, think about where you would be (see charts above) if you had left for Delta a few years ago. We are not the only airline with significant upward progression. It’s everywhere! Delta pilots hired in August 2022 were just awarded captain!!
Don’t just hope for the best; hedge your bet and Apply to Delta now.
Finally, your representatives saw where prior negotiations were heading during the Spring of 2022. We were not Johnny Come Lately in opposing the failed TA; rather, we were very vocal in identifying the inadequacies early on, whether it was fighting to rescind the sub-inflation, Negotiating Committee’s unilateral pay proposal reduction last Spring or voting against reducing our pay proposal by an industry lagging 50% in August 2022. We (and other pilot groups) understand the value of an airline pilot in today’s environment and refuse to sell ourselves short just to get a deal.
Paul DiOrio, Chair
Kevin Wilkes, Vice Chair
Delta profit sharing is higher because,
- American’s percentage of profit set aside for employees is lower, based on what the unions wanted and negotiated in the past
- American earns less profit
- American has more employees to split profit sharing pools across
The irony about Philadelphia pilot reps complaining about poor offers is that they’re speaking from a legacy US Airways hub. They never managed to get to a new pilots deal at US Airways after its takeover by America West, preferring to go to war with their own members (US Airways versus America West pilots) over seniority issues that stood in the way of a contract and kept pilot wages down for years. It was only with the American Airlines merger that their wages began to rise.
But unhappy pilots, as negotiations drag on, are not going to be good for the airline. They’re the only work group that can truly grind an airline to a halt.