Thursday, February 26, 2009

410 American Airlines flight attendants face furloughs

APFA logoThe Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing cabin crew at American Airlines, has notified its membership that 410 of its most junior members are subject to furlough effective April 1, 2009. According to a message on the APFA Hotline, the union was told today by Lauri Curtis, American’s Vice President of Flight Service, that "despite the attempts over the last several months to accommodate the Flight Attendant manning overages caused by schedule reductions and reduced passenger loads, the company has been unable to sufficiently absorb the expected additional Flight Attendant headcount."

APFA said to its members, "We are extremely disappointed that the company has had to resort to this action, though are hopeful that through the contractual procedures of Overage Leaves and Partnership Flying proffers, and the re-offering of the Travel Separation Program, the overage will be reduced or eliminated through voluntary means and will thereby reduce, or eliminate, any layoffs."

The APFA leadership has been working with the airline on mitigation efforts ever since last summer when American first announced a need to reduce its flight attendant head count in conjunction with its planned capacity reduction.

The union says that Overage Leaves and Partnership Flying will be proffered again, in accordance with the contract between the flight attendants and the airline. In addition, the airline is renewing the offer of the Travel Separation Program to eligible flight attendants. The union leadership retains the hope that the number of potential furloughs can be significantly mitigated through the various voluntary methods.

On the subject of current furloughees, the APFA Hotline message goes on to say:
We know that, as uncomfortable the prospect of potential layoff is to our most junior members, it also further delays the hoped-for return to work of those presently furloughed. Recognizing this, and the ongoing uncertainty faced by our furloughees, the APFA Board of Directors has achieved and unanimously approved an extension of the recall rights of those currently furloughed Flight Attendants by an additional two years, and an offer to them of a special Travel Separation Program. These Flight Attendants will receive a letter from the Company soon with more information and instructions.
Meanwhile, contract talks between the APFA and American Airlines, which began in May of last year, are set to resume on March 10, mediated by the U.S. National Mediation Board.