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Allied Pilots Association Sues American Airlines Over Railway Labor Act Violations

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 14, 2022) – The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 14,000 pilots of American Airlines, filed a lawsuit today seeking to prevent the airline from eliminating the longstanding practice of using experienced Check Airmen during a critical stage of the pilot training program.

All pilots are classified as either captains or first officers. Pilots from each classification are paired during flights and also during training, when they are evaluated by duly trained instructors known as Check Airmen. Occasionally, due to illness or other factors, a captain is left without a first officer (or vice versa) during a training evaluation. In these situations, a second Check Airman enters the simulator to fill in for the missing captain or first officer.

“Having failed to plan properly for the recovery in air travel demand, American Airlines management now finds itself having to deal with the consequences of being the only major airline to have furloughed pilots during the pandemic and its decision to forgo training opportunities at that time,” said APA President Capt. Eric Ferguson. “Management continues to fall behind and is scrambling to increase the volume of the pilot training funnel. Consequently, they are now soliciting all pilots to volunteer to replace our specially trained Check Airmen as “seat fillers” during a critical training evaluation stage under terms and conditions that remain largely unknown to APA.

“This unilateral action by American Airlines management degrades the training experience and risks long-term damage to the airline’s safety culture,” Ferguson said. “Management was clearly ill-prepared for the rebound in airline traffic and has been selling tickets for flights the airline may be unable to operate due to a shortage of properly qualified pilots, despite management’s recent assurances to the contrary.

“If the airline’s training resources weren’t under severe duress, management wouldn’t have taken this unilateral, reckless, and unlawful action to fill these simulator sessions in a manner that is not contemplated by our collective bargaining agreement.”

Ferguson also pointed out that many provisions from the current contract dating back to 2015 have yet to be implemented.

“Management hasn’t delivered what we have been long owed, while taking by force what they haven’t negotiated or paid for,” he said. “The well-being of the most important aspect of our profession – the training and preparedness of our flight crews – is now being negatively affected. No one is more invested in or committed to American Airlines than its pilots, yet a new culture of disrespect for us is now evident barely two weeks after a new CEO took the helm.

“For the long-term success of our airline, APA cannot tolerate this sudden and shocking degradation in our relationship with management, and regrets that we must resort to the federal courts to seek a remedy.”

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 14,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is AlliedPilots.org.

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