8.09.06 – (LAA) – Leave of Absence for More than 30 Days, Hotel Reviews, Pension Reform Bill

This is Leslie Mayo, National Communications Coordinator, with the APFA Hotline for Wednesday, August 9, 2006.

APFA News: The Contract Department would like to remind you that if you take a Leave of Absence for more than 30 days, you must make contributions in order to maintain your health benefits, prefunding and any other benefits/insurance you have elected. You should receive a Leave of Absence Rules and Instructions letter in the mail shortly after your Leave begins. However, to avoid any disruption or cancellation of benefits you can immediately locate this letter on Jetnet’s Leave of Absence section. Please contact Employee Services at 800-447-2000 if there is any doubt as to whether your Leave requires contributions, as well as the total amount of those contributions and deadlines to submit payment. You can also Live Chat with Employee Services from the link on Jetnet.

From the APFA Hotel Department: Upcoming Hotel Reviews will take place during the month of September for the following layover cities: RSW, TPA, BGI, FCO, DUB and SNN. If you would like to contact the Hotel Department with your input on our current layover hotel, please write to us at hotel@apfa.org.

Pension Reform Bill: The Senate voted on August 3rd to pass H.R.4 – the pension bill that includes the airline provision. There were no amendments to the Bill and it is now on the President’s desk awaiting his signature in order to become law. The White House has stated it is in support of this bill. There was little debate and no opposition to the bill prior to the 93-5 vote. Senator Isakson proclaimed a victory for airline employees (DL and NW) and said he was committed to working with Senators Hutchison and Cornyn to address their concerns. He was referring to the disparate treatment given to American and Continental.

While AA did not get the more favorable time-limit terms given to DL and NW (frozen plans receive 17 years), we are far better off than where we were only a few months ago when there was little support for including the Senate airline provision in the final pension bill. AA fared better than non-airline corporations receiving ten years amortization as opposed to seven. But the greatest success for us is the inclusion of $1 billion in Deficit Reduction Credit (DRC) for two years. All airlines received DRC for the last two years but this new provision only applies to AA and CO. This could potentially be worth more to AA than the better terms DL and NW received.

APFA would like to acknowledge the Flight Attendants of American Airlines for getting so involved in this issue and doing everything possible to get the attention of your Representatives from lobbying to emailing to phone calls. Once this bill is signed, it will become law and provide much needed relief for our Company to continue funding our defined benefit pension plans. Your voices made the difference.

Industry News: AA announced this week that it will discontinue service between DFW and Osaka, Japan effective October 27th. AA attributed this route cut to the high price of fuel. This discontinuance of service is now added to the prior announcements of terminating BOS-SNN and SFO-NRT on the 27th of October as well.

Bankruptcy Watch: Delta Air Lines has requested the termination of its pilots’ pension plan in Bankruptcy Court effective September 2nd. If the request is granted by the bankruptcy judge, the PBGC will take over the plan and pay retired pilots at a reduced benefit based on the date they retire as well as other factors. This plan covers 13,000 active and retired pilots and some spouses. In April of this year, ALPA, the union representing the Delta pilots, agreed not to oppose the termination of their pensions.

The Northwest Airlines Flight Attendants asked the bankruptcy judge today to consider the issue of whether the AFA-CWA represented Flight Attendants will be allowed to Strike due to the fact that their contract was abrogated in bankruptcy court. Northwest has sued the Flight Attendants against a Strike and the Flight Attendants are insisting that the now-permanently imposed 21% pay cuts as well as the reduction of medical benefits and diminished work rules warrant a Strike threat, which could occur as early as August 15, 2006.

Rumor Control:

Q: Is APFA in talks with American to change the age at which we can retire?

A: No! Please refer to Article 36 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement for information on retiring or contact our retirement specialist at APFA: Jena Hopkins at retirement@apfa.org.

Q: Will staffing be reduced on the 757/767 Hawaii routes?

A: The Company has told us that they have no plans to reduce staffing on these flights at this time.

Q: Is APFA entering early openers with the Company for negotiations?

A: Absolutely not!

Fuel Watch: As of Monday, July 31st, a barrel of crude oil cost $76.31, up $1.91 from last Wednesday’s price. The crack spread price was $15.68, down .96 cents from last week’s price. This brings the cost of one barrel of jet fuel to $91.99 – up .95 cents from the price of jet fuel a week ago.

One year ago August, the price of a barrel of crude was $64.99, and the crack-spread price was $13.70. The total for one barrel of jet fuel a year ago was $78.69, about $13 less than the price of a barrel of jet fuel today.

The InfoRep program is always looking for more member volunteers to disseminate factual information to our fellow Flight Attendants. If you are interested in becoming an InfoRep please send an email to inforep@apfa.org.

If you are not already receiving this Hotline automatically and would like to, send an email to apfa@apfa.org with the words “Add Me” in the subject line and your email address will be included in APFA’s weekly updates. If you no longer wish to receive these updates via email, send a message to apfa@apfa.org with the words “Remove Me” in the subject.

We have 3,882 APFA members on furlough. Of those 3,882 Flight Attendants, more than 1,100 including original AA F/As and former TWA F/As – all APFA members – are scheduled to fall off the American Airlines F/A Seniority List in October of this year due to the five-year language in Article 16. APFA received notice that American Airlines will be mailing letters to these more than 1,100 Flight Attendants shortly. With the equipment and route cuts resulting in Leave of Absence proffers beginning this September and through the remainder of the year, AA has informed us that they do not intend to recall more of our members in the foreseeable future. Please keep all of our furloughed members in your thoughts as well as our ten members serving full time in the military.

That’s it for this week. Thank you for calling the APFA Hotline.

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