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American cuts flight schedule as cancellations rise
Sept 18 |
Sept 18 (Reuters) - American Airlines said it is cutting flights by one to two percent for the rest of September and October, blaming the decision partly on an increase in pilot sick days and greater maintenance reports by flight crews.
Last week, the unit of AMR Corp began implementing cost cuts for its unionized pilots after gaining bankruptcy court approval to abandon its collective bargaining agreement with the Allied Pilots Association.
Airline spokesman Bruce Hicks said the airline reduced the number of flights it runs so customers would have the least amount of disruption. American was operating about 1,700 flights a day.
According to data from tracking service FlightAware.com, American Airlines in recent days has cancelled more flights than other major U.S. airlines.
On Monday, for example, American cancelled about 2.1 percent of its scheduled flights, or about 73, compared with an average of 0.4 percent for other major U.S. airlines that day, FlightAware said.
Mark Duell, vice president of operations at FlightAware, said cancellations at American have been well above the rest of the U.S. airline industry for the past two weeks.
Pilot union spokesman Gregg Overman said on Tuesday that sick rates for American pilots have not deviated from normal historical rates, based on the union's tracking. He said there have been more mechanical delays.
The pilots are the only major work group at American that has not agreed on contract concessions since the airline filed for bankruptcy in November last year.
In a message on Tuesday, union President Keith Wilson said pilots were "angry" since American began imposing new work terms that cut their compensation and benefits.
The pilots union is conducting a strike vote through Oct. 3, but has previously said it will not walk out unless it is legal to do so.
Separately on Tuesday, American Airlines said it had notified more than 11,000 mechanics and ground workers under the WARN Act that they could lose their jobs in November and December as it streamlines operations.
Hicks said the carrier expects fewer than 40 percent of those it sent notices to, or 4,400 people, will actually be laid off. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employees to be notified 60 days before major layoffs or plant closures.
In February, American had outlined plans to cut as many as 14,000 jobs as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.
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