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APA Information Hotline

This is APA President CA Eric Ferguson with the APA Information Hotline for Sunday, March 15.

APA BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPROVES LOA 20-001 – NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19): The APA Board of Directors convened a voting conference call this evening at 7 p.m. Central. Following a briefing by APA Negotiating Committee Chairman CA John Karam and Director of Pilot Negotiations and Contract Administration Mark Myers, the board voted to approve Letter of Agreement 20-001 – Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). I wholeheartedly concur with the board’s decision.

LOA-20-001 has two primary provisions: Pay Protection for pilots impacted by COVID-19, and incentivized Voluntary Leaves of Absence. I encourage everyone to read the full text of the LOA, but here is a 30,000-foot view of the agreement.

Pay Protection:

  • Pilots who are placed in quarantine based on concerns related to COVID-19 or who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be pay protected during the duration of the evaluation, treatment, or quarantine.
  • Pay protection also applies to pilots who self-quarantine due to a family member being diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Pilots who call in sick and are subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 will have their sick time restored to their bank and will be pay protected.

Voluntary Leaves of Absence:

Three different voluntary Leaves of Absence will be offered. The special voluntary leaves are designed to reduce temporary pilot overages caused by current circumstances.

  • Voluntary Extended Leaves of Absence (“VELOA”): A VELOA will be an unpaid leave; however, the pilot will continue to accrue Length of Service (LOS), will continue to have access to employee benefits at active pilot rates, and will retain travel privileges similar to an Active pilot. These leaves may be up to 12 months in duration.
  • Voluntary Short-Term Leaves of Absence (“VSTLOA”): Pilots who take a VSTLOA will be paid 55 credited hours per month for the duration of the leave. Leaves will be 1, 3, or 6 months long. The pilot will continue to accrue sick and vacation, be eligible for all benefits at the same rates as active pilots, and retain travel benefits. Pay for the 55 hours will be eligible for 401(k) contributions and profit-sharing calculations. Pilots on a VSTLOA will be required to maintain currency but will have no other flying obligations.
  • Voluntary Permanent Leave of Absence (“VPLOA”): Pilots between the ages of 62 and 65 will be eligible for a VPLOA. VPLOA pilots will be paid 50 hours per month until age 65. VPLOA pilots are eligible for all benefits at the same rates as active pilots, and retain travel benefits. Pay for the 50 hours will be eligible for 401(k) contributions and profit-sharing calculations. At retirement, the balance of the pilot’s sick bank will be deposited into a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) at 40% of the pilot’s applicable hourly rate. A VPLOA pilot will remain in this leave until retirement. This leave is permanent and cannot be changed by either the pilot or the Company.

The details regarding how these three leaves will be proffered to the membership are contained within the LOA, as well as the requirements and particulars of each leave. A detailed Q&A document will follow shortly.

On a related note, I know the possibility of a furlough is on many of your minds. I can tell you that at this point, the likelihood of a furlough has not been suggested by either side. If that changes, we will let you know immediately. One of the main objectives of the LOA ratified today is to mitigate that threat. At this point, it is too early to tell if we are headed down that path, but understand that stopping and reversing the training machinery would be incredibly costly and time-consuming. It is in our mutual interest to avoid reductions by way of furlough.

Furthermore, the airline industry is very different from what it was just before 9/11. Domestic load factors have increased from an average of 60% in 1990, to 69% in 2001, to 85% in 2019. International loads have risen from 67%, to 72%, to 84% over the same timeframe. The point is that the world travels by air far more than in the past, and the industry has become more efficient, so those loads are likely to return after the pandemic has passed (hopefully sooner rather than later). Additionally, furloughed pilots would require five or more weeks to requalify in their aircraft, greatly reducing the ability of American Airlines to resume normal service when the demand inevitably ramps back up.

Know that while we finally have the basic protections necessary for a professional pilot to operate in a fast-evolving public health emergency, your union leadership will continue to operate “all hands on deck” until this crisis has passed, and we will continue updating you daily for as long as the situation remains critical.

Also this evening, Ms. Kay Crews, who serves as parliamentarian for the union’s board meetings and conference calls, outlined procedures for conducting board meetings remotely for the board’s consideration. I recommended that board members assess their personal risk factors in making a decision regarding whether to participate in next week’s special board meeting in person or remotely.

Before recessing this evening, the board voted to approve a motion that states, in part, “due to concerns related to COVID-19, the SBOD scheduled for March 17-19, 2020, be cancelled and replaced with a Voting Conference Call for the same time period.”

In accordance with R2016-11, this hotline message includes a synopsis reflecting all main motions and resolutions that the board addressed. In accordance with R2017-37 Rev 1, audio of the open portions of the conference call will soon be posted to AlliedPilots.org/BODMeetingRecordings.

Fellow pilots, thank you for your engagement and support during these past few weeks. I want you to know that we understand how important information is during a crisis, and we are making every attempt to keep you informed as the situation unfolds.

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