This is Leslie Mayo, National Communications Coordinator, with the APFA Hotline for Friday, September 9, 2005.
We have 4,138 furloughed Flight Attendants and 12 members serving full time in the armed forces. Please keep them as well as the millions of people affected by Hurricane Katrina in your thoughts.
Sunday marks the fourth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the loss of our co-workers on AA Flights 11 and 77. September 11, 2001, is a day that none of us will ever forget. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of all those who died that day.
In the past ten days, APFA Flight Attendants have shown their true colors in volunteering to work relief flights for the victims of one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike our country. AA was the first commercial airline to land in New Orleans carrying relief supplies last week despite the lack of power at the MSY airport. U.S. airlines participating in the New Orleans airlift evacuated more than 11,000 people from the disaster zone over the weekend, temporarily making that city’s airport one of the busiest in the nation. An FAA spokesman reported that from Friday to Sunday, the combined efforts of more than100 civil and military aircraft shifted 20,000 people from MSY. ATA President James May said the scale of the civilian airlift “is unprecedented in U.S. history.”
Calls and emails continue to come in to APFA Headquarters with offers to help in some way. We are working directly with two organizations, Wings and Airline Ambassadors. These two flight-attendant driven philanthropic groups are looking for donations in the form of clothing, baby food, school supplies, temporary boarding and cash to those in need. APFA Headquarters will be helping these organizations by collecting items to be transported to the affected region on the 19th of September. For specific information on how you can contribute to these efforts and others, go to our website at www.www.apfa.org and click on the Hurricane Katrina Relief link.
In addition, for those of you affected by cancellations and schedule changes due to the hurricane, APFA and the Company have signed a Letter of Agreement addressing those Flight Attendants whose trips were affected by Katrina. You can see the full contents of the letter on the APFA website.
The Contract Department continues to receive inquiries regarding how language-qualified Flight Attendants are paid on flights that require a speaker. Although only the required number of speakers on a particular flight will be considered the ‘designated’ speakers, all Flight Attendants who speak the language of destination will receive language pay. The Company has elected not to implement the provision of Attachment B of the Restructuring Participation Agreement providing language pay only to the required speaker positions. Therefore, if five Spanish speakers are onboard a flight from MIA to SJU, all five will receive language pay regardless of the position worked on the flight.
In industry news this week , three Congressional committees have taken up pension overhauls this year. Legislative action by APFA members will be needed in the weeks ahead. The Senate seems to be moving at record speed on pension legislation following the Labor Day recess. Please stay close to all APFA forms of communication so that you remain informed on proposed law that could either help or harm our current efforts to impact positive change to pension legislation. For now, please urge your elected representatives to watch this legislation carefully. Remind them that AA and its unions are the one airline trying to protect the future growth of our defined pension benefit plans.
Congress has postponed efforts to repeal the Wright Amendment while they work on hurricane disaster relief and the confirmation of a new Supreme Court chief justice. Congress says they may consider the issue later this year. The Wright Amendment limits flying out of Dallas Love Field, and Southwest has mounted a huge lobbying effort to get the law repealed. AA and the DFW Airport say this law should remain in place. More information on this issue is available on our website.
Also in Washington this week several Senators indicated that they are willing to consider helping airlines that lost service because of Hurricane Katrina and the resulting escalated fuel prices, though at least one key member contended it’s too soon to say whether a cut to jet fuel taxes is feasible.
Boeing machinists, represented by the International Association of Machinists, went on strike last Friday. Analysts say the dispute shows signs of dragging on for weeks as both sides seem unlikely to back down quickly. The IAM rejected Boeing’s final contract offer, with 86% of eligible members voting against the proposal. The IAM said Boeing must address job security and pension concerns before the union will return to the negotiating table. IAM represents 18,400 Boeing employees.
Northwest Airlines and AMFA, representing its striking mechanics, resumed negotiations in Minneapolis this week, but the airline warned it will be seeking even deeper concessions than were contained in its August 18 proposal.
Northwest’s credit rating was downgraded again this week. According to Reuters, on Wednesday NWA amended its pension plan for salaried employees to freeze existing benefit accruals. This means that participants will not accrue any additional pension benefits based on future service or compensation received after Aug. 31, 2005. Northwest also announced that next month it plans to end its daily flight between JFK and Tokyo due to high fuel prices and excess capacity and competition on the route.
United Airlines will leave bankruptcy “a smaller airline, heavily leveraged, and should lose $250 million next year,” according to a Forbes analysis of the documents filed Wednesday with the federal bankruptcy court. The losses are predicated on crude oil prices remaining above $60 a barrel. Filings show CEO Glenn Tilton has trimmed billions in costs, mostly by shrinking the airline. Salary and pension cuts for UAL workers amount to $3.2 billion annually. United now has some of the lowest operating costs of the major legacy carriers, giving it a major advantage over American, Delta, Northwest Airlines and Continental.
AirTran Airways and its pilots’ union, the National Pilots Association, began mediated negotiations this week in Orlando with the National Mediation Board. NPA is an independent union representing 1,100 pilots. The NPA and AirTran have been in contract negotiations since December 2004.
Delta plans to trim its Cincinnati hub by 25% and cut nearly 1,000 jobs at that airport. At the same time the airline says it will boost its international schedule as it works to avoid bankruptcy. Delta has a new team of executives and this announcement is considered the first in a series of moves to improve system wide traffic and yields.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for calling the APFA Hotline.