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Allied Pilots Association: Stock Buybacks “Part of a Larger, Persistent Pattern of Mismanagement”

FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 8, 2022) – The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 14,000 pilots of American Airlines, added its voice to the broad coalition of aviation workers opposed to stock buybacks by U.S. carriers.

“Stock buybacks don’t benefit passengers or aviation workers, they don’t enhance the reliability of air travel, and they come at a steep cost,” said APA President Capt. Edward Sicher. “From 2014 through 2019, major U.S. airlines spent more than $39 billion to repurchase shares, including more than $12 billion at American Airlines alone. The motivation is clear: Airline executives are among the largest shareholders, and by boosting the share price, they can greatly enrich themselves.

“Stock buybacks represent part of a larger, persistent pattern of mismanagement by our nation’s airlines,” he said. “Despite receiving $54 billion in public funds in the form of Payroll Support Program grants and loans during the COVID-19 pandemic, the airlines were nevertheless unprepared for the return of air travel demand. Lawmakers’ intentions were completely disregarded, as those funds were specifically intended to enable airlines to maintain their payrolls and be ready to fly again. Instead, our passengers and crews have been experiencing chronic delays and cancellations.

“During the pandemic, American Airlines made the ill-advised decision to furlough pilots — the only major U.S. carrier to do so,” Capt. Sicher said. “Despite entering into an agreement with APA to keep furloughed pilots current and qualified to maximize post-pandemic operational readiness, management elected not to train pilots who volunteered to participate. We’re seeing the consequences of that shortsightedness now.”

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) recently went public in demanding that airlines pledge to stabilize the industry with reliable operations and good jobs before any additional funds are expended on stock buybacks.

“APA strongly recommends taking that demand a step further,” Capt. Sicher said. “In our view, airlines need to forgo stock buybacks altogether and instead direct the funds to more constructive purposes.”

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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