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American Airlines first officer Ken Abernathy, right, joined pilots representing the Allied Pilots Association in rallying for a new contract in January 2020.

The Dallas Morning News

The union for American Airlines pilots plans to picket at DFW International Airport and other places such as Miami after facing fatigue, dropped hotel reservations and other problems following another summer filled with delayed and canceled flights.

The Allied Pilots Association could be joining pilots at Southwest Airlines this fall in the informational demonstrations as the commercial aviation industry has failed to smoothly return to flying following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association made a similar call for pilots to begin informational protests at airports in the coming weeks, although there is little chance of an actual walkout by pilots because it is prohibited by federal law.

“Unfortunately, management has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to run a reliable airline, and has failed to give us the tools we need to do our jobs,” the Allied Pilots Union said in a message to members last week.

“While attempting to recover from weather-related disruption (and sometimes even on clear-sky days), management often resorts to making up its own rules, generating brand-damaging headlines and jeopardizing passenger loyalty and precious revenue.”

Pilots and flight attendants at both of the North Texas-based airlines have been complaining all summer that they have borne the burden of poor planning by airlines that rushed to put up aggressive schedules to capture the demand from the traveling public following the slowdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pilots union spokesman Dennis Tajer has said the airline doesn’t have enough pilots to run that many flights after letting nearly 1,000 walk away during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airlines such as Southwest and American have trimmed fall travel schedules to try to limit problems.

The picketing could be the prelude to a much nastier fight between the two sides as they engage in talks for a new contract coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Allied Pilots Association represents all 13,400 pilots at American.

The Allied Pilots Association pointed to several stretches this summer of high cancellations following routine slowdowns such as weather and technology problems. But those problems, which would sometimes only last a few hours, would often cripple flights for several days as American struggled to relocate pilots and flight attendants who had hit federal flying limits.

The Allied Pilots Association said American has forced pilots to work on days off. Pilots have also been showing up to hotels in destination cities and been turned away because the airline didn’t provide adequate proof of payment and crew members have even been forced to skip meals because they don’t have enough time between flights.

In a letter to pilots last week, American Airlines vice president of flight operations Chip Long said the company has seen improvements since the worst struggles earlier this summer.

“We had a challenging stretch in June due to weather, vendor staffing and temporary pilot training challenges that may have touched you or your schedule,” Long said in the memo. “We’ve taken steps to ensure we can support the operation and get our customers where they want to go, when they want to go.”

At the same time, we continue to make important progress internally, managing and adapting in a way that provides tangible improvements for each of you.”

The Allied Pilots Association has said the first protest will take place Oct. 19 at Miami International Airport, American’s hub for South American travel. Protests at DFW and other airports would come at future dates.

The pilots union at Dallas-based Southwest Airlines filed a lawsuit last week accusing the airline of “asymmetrical warfare” regarding how pilots have been treated in recent months.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

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