This is Leslie Mayo, National Communications Coordinator, with the APFA Hotline for Friday, April 22, 2005.
Please keep our 4,240 furloughed flight attendants and 12 members serving full time in the armed forces in your thoughts.
Today, United Airlines and the PBGC reached a deal pending bankruptcy court approval that would allow UAL to forego all of its pension payment obligations worth about $6.6 billion – the largest claim in the 31-year history of the PBGC’s existence. UAL’s pensions are under funded by nearly $10 billion – $6.6 billion of which the PBGC will insure. This deal will give UAL an advantage over several other companies with currently under-funded pensions: Continental, Delta and Northwest.
Unfortunately, the PBGC is not in much better financial shape than United. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is a Governmental insurance company for pensions and as of September ’04, it carried a $23.3 billion deficit. On that note, it is important that all Flight Attendants who are off on May 11th and can make their way to Washington, D.C., take note:
APFA is preparing for our May 11th lobby day in DC. Details can be found on www.apfa.org. Please click on the link and sign up to meet us in Washington. You can also email email@example.com. We will be dealing with Pension Reform, Fuel Prices and F/A Fatigue. Skyword Express should be in your homes shortly. Please join us on the Hill on the 11th and bring your inaugural issue of Skyword Express with you. It contains a lot of information on the issues you will be dealing with when meeting with your Representatives and their Staff in Congress May 11th. APFA and our lobbyist on the Hill will be providing a briefing and talking points for all of you who join us. We look forward to seeing you – remember there is great strength in numbers. Finally, go to www.apfa.org and click on the “We’re Restless” link for a downloadable bagtag insert.
The following are a few things happening on the Hill that relate to AA Flight Attendants: Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) is sponsoring a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee asking for an additional $1 million for the FAA to extend the study on flight attendant fatigue. We have until May 13 to get signatures on the letter so please contact your congressperson asking him or her to sign on by visiting the APFA website and clicking on the link entitled “We’re Restless.”
Also this week, S861, the Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005 was introduced by Senator John Isakson (R-GA). This bill provides airlines with defined benefit pension plans the option of freezing their plans and allows for a 25-year amortization period to the unfunded liability. This bill was introduced at the behest of Northwest and Delta Airlines and the Airline Pilots Association. While this bill does not apply to the current situation at American, APFA is studying its provisions.
And finally, Senate bill S. 622 contains a provision that would allow the U. S. Postal Service to consider bids from foreign airlines to carry U.S. mail on international routes. This places up to $100 million/year in jeopardy for American Airlines. Shortly, we will have a letter available for you on www.apfa.org to send to your Senators urging them to support the Voinovich/Lautenberg amendment that would remove this provision from the bill.
From the Safety Dept: please be sure you are aware of FAR 121.575 that outlines procedures for boarding and allowing passengers that appear to be intoxicated to remain on board. AA could face fines of up to $11,000 for violations of this FAR. Further, passengers are not allowed to board while consuming alcohol.
Some of you have expressed your frustration with the inability to plot your EPT class date in your base month resulting in the postponement of EPT’s until your grace month. This ripple effect is occurring because some flight attendants are waiting for their grace month to initialize EPT class-requests. APFA encourages all Flight Attendants to attend training in their base month in order to avoid some without the opportunity to attend EPT’s prior to their quals expiring for scheduling reasons. APFA understands that certain circumstances can prevent some flight attendants from attending EPT’s in their base month, but in all cases, please make every effort to attend drills before your grace month so that we don’t risk losing the flexibility of selecting our own training dates.
We would like to remind you again this week that the FCC NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) comment period regarding the use of wireless devices onboard airborne aircraft has been extended to May 26, 2005. The FCC has officially opened the docket for public comment on this issue. APFA has sent our comments regarding the Union’s position on this issue. Now is your chance to let the FCC personally know your feelings or concerns. For details visit www.www.apfa.org and click on the Cell Phone icon.
APFA and AA, as a result of discussions in the Joint Scheduling Committee, have signed a Letter of Agreement to enhance the Service Qualification Restrictions in Trip Trading with Open Time (TTOT). For example, a flight attendant could not trade a non-service qualified HNL for an IFS-qualified LHR trip without contacting Crew Schedule to possibly allow the exception. TTOT will now allow the trade, assuming the Flight Attendant holds the necessary qualification, i.e. IFS. We hope this increases the flexibility TTOT was intended to provide our crewmembers.
DFASS/Retail Travel Services, Inc., American’s Duty Free vendor has asked that we pass on their thanks to those Flight Attendants who participated in the duty-free commission test during the trial period November 1, 2004, through March 31, 2005. American Airlines renegotiated their contract with DFASS and as a result, effective April 1, 2005, all duty free incentive programs as well as the current commission program are under the direction of DFASS. All aspects of the program will remain the same. Please continue to complete and submit Revenue Sharing Forms for your flights.
Additionally, AA notified APFA that they plan to discontinue offering duty free sales on all flights to and from GIG and GRU effective April 25. The Company cited low average sales in these markets as the reason. We expect this will have minimal impact on Flight Attendant commissions, as the majority of flights did not meet the current $200 sales threshold to earn a commission.
For those Flight Attendants returning from leave we encourage you to use the N4D entry when searching Open Time for trips as this entry will provide you with the origination and termination airport for a sequence. This is especially true if you are based in either LAX or ORD, both of which have flying that originates and terminates at a satellite base. The full entry is N4D/BASE//DATE. The N3D and N4TL entries do not contain this information.
Some of the majors’ earnings were out this week: Delta reported a $1.1 billion loss, Northwest a $458 million loss – almost double last year’s 1Q; and American lost $162 million – $4 million less than last year’s 1Q loss. Continental lost $184 million, compared with $124 million in the same quarter last year and Alaska reported a loss as well of $80.5 – close to double last year’s 1Q.
America West reported a $33.6 million profit up from a loss of $1.6 million last year 1Q, JetBlue’s net income was $7 million and Southwest reported profits of $76 million – nearly triple least year’s 1Q profits.
In rumor control:
Q: One flight attendant wrote that she was sitting next to one of the “ladies that works at the recall desk” and was told that APFA finally got “it” approved so that AA F/A’s hired after TWA-LLC F/A’s merged into our seniority list will be called back prior to TWA F/A’s.
A: This is false. The TWA Seniority Agreement clearly outlines the date of hire of TWA-LLC flight attendants beginning on April 10, 2001, and our Current Bargaining Agreement outlines the order of recall in seniority order. There has been no deviation from the SIA and the Contract that would allow some members hired after other members to acquire super-seniority in the event of a recall.
Relating to rumor control: last week while we reported that APFA is not interested in preferential bidding we commented on the pilots’ interest, and with that, we reported that APA had solicited the Company to test preferential bidding. Turns out, while we cannot keep the Company from researching Preferential Bidding Vendors or anything else for that matter, APA has told us they made no requests for a “test.” APFA apologizes for the error.
That’s it for this week. Thank you for calling the APFA Hotline
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