American Airlines, from 911 bailouts, customer rights law overturn, outsourcing, lax FAA enforcement, the Allied Pilots Association and the Teamsters

"Today, on the news, they said the cancellations may get worse. Worse? How can they get worse? What are they going to do? Take your luggage and then punch you in the face, too?" --Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, April 10th.

The airline industry which the tax paying people of the US bailed out in 2001, is screwing us all over again, our lives hang in the balance in this ever greedy corporate world, where the entire idea of putting profits over people, the lawful duty of a corporation, is destroying our world.

Since the 911 bailout, the airline industry has successfully sent highly skilled and FAA certified American jobs to other parts of the world where they don't even need FAA certification.

Unions, who some claim have overstayed their welcome, still are fighting the good fight to equalize the playing field for the common man.

Without union involvement and the help of whistle blowers acting out against the social injustices of corporations, the world would be much worse off.


In New York just 3 weeks ago, on 3/25/08, a Federal appeals court struck down the New York state law requiring airlines to give food, water, clean toilets and fresh air to passengers stuck in delayed planes, saying the measure was well-intentioned but stepped on federal authority.

The very next day, 3/26/08, American Airlines grounded it's fleet of Boeing MD-80's
The nation's largest carrier canceled more than 340 flights — or about 14 percent of its scheduled service — according to the latest results from FlightStats.com.

The need for the new inspections became known during an audit of American by a joint team of inspectors from the FAA and the Fort Worth-based airline.

It's now 2 weeks later, and heres a clip from ConsumerAffairs.com (4/10/08) :
The mandatory inspections of its fleet of MD-80 aircraft forced American Airlines to cancel 500 flights on Monday and nearly 1,000 on Wednesday, creating long lines of frustrated passengers in the nation's airports. The chaos is likely to continue today, with as many as 900 more flights scratched.

At Denver International Airport Tuesday, 19 of American's 22 scheduled departures were canceled, along with the same number of arrivals, according to the Denver Post. The newspaper reported lines to American's sixth-floor ticket counter snaked to the mezzanine area overlooking the terminal's north security checkpoint.

It was the same story in Orlando, where 22 flights were canceled Wednesday.

"Folks, if you think this is going to get better, hang on. It's going to get a lot worse." Rep. John Mica (R-FL) told WDBO Radio.
And it has only been getting worse, according to AeroNews.net (4/12/08) :
"We anticipate returning to a full schedule on Monday." That statement Friday from American Airlines no doubt comes as little reassurance to hundreds of thousands passengers inconvenienced in the past three days, due to the cancellation of nearly 3,000 flights for emergency inspections of its fleet of MD-80 airliners. In an email message to previous American Airlines customers, Marketing VP Dan Garton said the airline is really, really sorry for the trouble.
Recent FAA emphasis in the wake of heavy criticism

According to ConsumerAffairs.com (4/10/08- same article as above) :
American is just the latest airline to react to the FAA's new emphasis on inspections, in the wake of heavy criticism of the agency's monitoring and enforcement of inspection mandates. Southwest Airlines faces a possible $10 million fine after it few a number of its Boeing 737 jets that had not been inspected for cracks in their fuselage, as ordered.
The unions have responded in both cases, most recently in the American Airlines situation

Allied Pilots Association on American Airline's

From Airline Biz (4/10/08) :
The Allied Pilots Association, 19 months into non-moving contract talks with American Airlines, has taken out a big ad in USA Today to attack the airline's management.

Under photo of a disgruntled-looking man sitting on a cot with his roll-on bag by his side, the ad's headline asks the question: "Why is American Airlines failing its customers?"

The message includes a reference to the union's new Web site that allows employees and customers to complain about American, www.TellYourAAStory.com.

The ad sums up many of the complaints the APA has lodged against American management: poor maintenance, poor customer service, penny-pinching, etc. As an interesting note, it doesn't mention the union's beef about executive stock awards.

The ad doesn't say so, but we presume the timing is tied to American's decision to ground some 2,500 flights Tuesday-Thursday to go back and re-inspect its fleet of MD-80s that it had grounded two weeks earlier for the same reason.

On Tuesday, the union plans meetings at all its bases to turn up the heat over the executive stock plan, which will distribute stock to top executives and other key employees the next day.

The Teamster's on Southwest Airlines and airline outsourcing

Same article from above- Consumeraffairs.com (4/10/08) :

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Southwest, which faces a potential $10 million fine over the inspection violations, has cancelled plans to outsource aircraft maintenance to a company in El Salvador.

"We've been trying for years to get the FAA to pay attention to how dangerous it is to outsource maintenance overseas," said Teamsters Union President Jim Hoffa, whose members perform maintenance work in the U.S. "Our mechanics keep telling us how they often have to re-do work that was done wrong by airlines' outside vendors."

"Airline mechanics have to meet much higher standards in America than they do overseas," Hoffa said. "Mechanics in foreign shops don't even have to be FAA-certificated."

Hoffa said that between 1997 and 2006, U.S. airlines increased their outsourced maintenance expenses from 37 percent to 64 percent," Hoffa said.

In advance of Oberstar's Capitol Hill hearings on the subject, FAA Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell said the agency would institute a two-year ban on former FAA inspectors going to work for airlines in important maintenance jobs.

FAA whistle blowers have increasingly complained that FAA inspectors failed to act on repeated warnings about Southwest's inspection lapses, allowing the airline to "voluntarily" report missed deadlines, thus avoiding penalties.
Is that what the airlines did with the 9/11 bailout money?

BusinessWeek, from way back in (11/26/01) :
Airlines used the attacks as justification for large federal subsidies, and Congress responded. A board of federal officials, headed by Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich, has been authorized to dole out $10 billion in government-backed loans. Some $5 billion more is available in outright grants, and half of this amount has already been distributed to many airlines.

This assistance, with perhaps more to follow, is unwise because stockholders, creditors, employees, and suppliers should have to bear most of the costs of the economic slump and the aftermath of the hijackings.
From ConsumerAffairs (1/22/05)
JetBlue, Southwest, America West, Northwest and United are among the carriers who outsource major maintenance of their aircraft to contractors in other countries, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
  • As JetBlue's new A320 Airbus fleet ages, aircraft are sent to a repair hub in El Salvador;
  • America West also sends its jets to El Salvador;
  • Southwest has always outsourced its major maintenance;
  • US Airways mechanics agreed Friday to pay cuts and the outsourcing of 2,000 mechanics jobs;
  • Northwest sends its wide-body jets to Singapore and Hong Kong;
  • Bankrupt United Airlines recently won union approval to begin using outside contractors for heavy maintenance.
It wasn't long ago that major airlines employed their own highly-skilled mechanics, each with his or her own Federal Aviation Administration license. The mechanics, who often studied for two years before taking the test, could make $60 or more per hour.

Mechanics working for outsourcers don't have to be licensed. Only supervisors are required to hold FAA licenses and are responsible for oversight of the mechanics, who in countries like El Salvador may make $10 to $20 per hour.
Like squeezing the juice from a lemon, once again the tax paying American public has reinvested against it's own interests.

CEO's should be repaying into the tax system, not reaping great benefits. We got screwed without even a kiss.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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