Sunday, September 5, 2021
October 2021 Allocations
Good Day CLT Flight Attendants,
The company had some mixed news this week for what the future of our system will look like, and what we can expect our trips to look like. The good news was the planned return of the domestic network with the addition of wide-body flying being added to more leisure destinations. Network planning is trying to capitalize on the domestic yield and based on the load factors we have seen this summer, this would appear to be the direction we can expect for the near future. Much of the international flying has been delayed again as the COVID virus continues to deter demand for European flying and many countries are going into restricted status. As a result, much of our IPD flying will have to wait. Charlotte will keep our daily flight to LHR but the RDU -LHR flight has been pushed to the late spring. Munich is scheduled to return on December 17th, just in time for Christmas. Much of the EU flying has been adjusted to where we can fly 50% of the routes and not lose the slots. This is causing the company to reschedule many of these flights from selected airports. Unpredictable wide-body deliveries from Boing have also thrown a monkey wrench into making solid plans. Frankfurt will come into our schedule for a few weeks in November and then disappear to another base until returning in December. The full return of IPD is now on hold until the summer season of next year. COVID is still driving this bus, but AA is positioning itself to capitalize on the domestic and NIPD demand until the IPD can be fully returned.
Charlotte has been a strong base for domestic flying throughout this whole pandemic, and we will continue to be a central stronghold for domestic flying. The long-term graphs show steady increases are planned for the next few months while we wait for the big jumps coming over the winter holidays and the final return of the IPD routes. Please keep in mind that the recalled flight attendants will not start coming back until November. The company does have six new-hire classes scheduled to start in October, with graduations staggered from mid-November right up to just before Christmas. We don’t know how many of these new hires will come to Charlotte, but we will have an influx of people starting in November to help with our staffing crisis. While some bases are questioning if there will be enough flying for the returning flight attendants, the immediate plans call for more flying in November than we had in July. The return of our people and the new hire influx should also give some relief to the higher seniorities having to rotate onto reserve. This is good news, but it still leaves us with a staffing shortage for October. With time being added to the system in October, one has to ask, how do they intend to cover the additional flying? Some of the flight attendants on leaves have elected to return in October, but Charlotte is only getting five of them. There were transfers for October, bringing our head count to 2,109 with an active count 1,959.
We are slated to have 1,593 lineholders, 366 reserves (18.7%) and our line average will be set at 82.7 hours. We have approximately 16% more trips in October over September, but our headcount only increased by about 15 to 17 people. So, how are they going to cover the trips with about the same staffing levels? For months you APFA Base Presidents have been pushing for changes to our trips to make them more livable and desirable. The basic concept is, if you build them, they will come. Management has heard our voices and has decided to make changes to the trip construction model. We had a complete list of the changes we wanted, but with staffing still an issue until our people begin to return, there were only so many changes they could make for October pairings. The initial changes were significant, and this is a very good start. Some of the major changes include no more five leg days. We had pushed for an end to the four leg days, but that was too much strain on the system. They made as many changes as they could to the four leg days and brought it down to where only 1.6% of the trips are built with four leg days. They have co-paired us with the pilots more. This alignment means you will stay with the same pilots and hopefully the same aircraft for the majority of a duty day. While this will be more noticeable in DFW initially, this will have a major effect on lowering the length of the duty days as the pilots have stricter limits. They have lowered the duty day length to where only 3.2% of the trips have duty days over 12 hours with the bulk of the duty days being in the 7-to-11-hour range.
Another significant change was the separation of red-eye flying to stand alone trips. They have taken the red-eyes and built them into traditional three day red eyes and pink eyes.
You will also see some charter trips in the package. They should be listed on Jetnet as to whether they are professional sports teams, college teams or honor flights. While traditional Caribbean trips are reduced in September, October 7th will see a return of many of these trips. This is in line with chasing the leisure traveler. The industry operates on two seasons, winter and summer. There are peak times to both seasons, but our network planning separates the flying into just two seasons. The last Saturday of October marks the end of the summer season and the beginning of the winter season. As long as the demand stays high for the Caribbean, Mexico and NIPD destinations, we are hoping these flights can remain in place for the winter season.
Those were the positive changes we saw to the schedule. Some of the areas that still need to be addressed are the sit times, amount of four day trips and the commutability of the four days. Most of the changes that were made will affect the three and four day trips. The optimizer loves to spit out four days. When the new limitations or pressures are placed on the system, the four days are where you will see most of the changes to things like duty day length and rest. If you are someone who says, “I don’t do four days,” you may want to take a look at them. There are some gems in there and it might be easier than picking up back-to-back two days.
Here are how our trips break down for October:
- 1-days will make up 22% of our trips.
- 2-days remain the bulk of our flying with 41% of the trips.
- 3-days hold steady at 12% of the trips.
- 4-days are holding around 11% of the trips.
- ODANs increased to 9% of the trips and there are more pink eyes and traditional red eyes. We still only saw 1 bullet (Same duty period red-eye).
- 2/3 days went down to less than 1% of the trips and we only saw two 3/4 days.
The distribution was about the same as September, there were just more trips.
Charlotte remains steady with nine banks of flights, with reductions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. We still have one of the strongest domestic presences in the system.
There are still the four-leg one days with long sits, and the overall sit time actually increased across all trips. It is not possible to cut the sit times out of the one days without addressing the sit times for all the trips. We are hopeful the future changes include adjusting the sit times down from a max of 3+45 hours to closer to 1+30. Once the overall sit time is adjusted, the four-leg one days can be cleaned up. The alternative is to eliminate the four-leg one days. While this is desirable for most of us, it would cut the number of one days and leave all the open time to be rescheduled into other types of trips. Keep in mind, the Optimizer likes to spit out four days, and we don’t want to return to the days when the bulk of our trips were four days. We are looking for some type of happy medium here. Splitting the one days into two separate one days will create too much synthetic time, and the computer will want to redistribute that time into a more productive day.
The reserve numbers at 18.7% are reasonable considering the usage they have had this summer. Using historical data, we can predict the reserve percentage for the holidays. Using 2019 as a model, we can expect November to also be at 18-19%.
There will be no VLOAs for October.
NIPD flying had a lot of island turns, not a lot of actual overnights. Most of the island countries have not changed their status in requiring vaccinations. The South American Country of Suriname just went in this direction and Canada may be next. Stay tuned for updates, and check your comply 365 for any restrictions when flying NIPD flights.
London will run daily, with the second flight being put on hold for lack of demand. HNL runs daily, but there is a weekend break for this flight at the end of the month, so one of these trips has a stop over in DFW and a deadhead back from there. FRA will start running the last two days of October.
RDU trips have been improved with a new approach to that 0400 check-in. We relayed the message that RDU would like some island overnights and possibly an ODAN or two. RDU has always been a micro model of what will happen at the bigger bases. If the improvements do happen over the next few months, I’m sure RDU will continue to see them on a larger scale than some of the larger bases. LHR has now been postponed to the summer season of 2022.
The bidding timeline for October is as follows:
All in all, October has positive changes to some of the basic trip construction problems. With staffing coming back in November, December and six new hire classes slated to join us before the end of the year, we’re hoping CLT can get some of them in December and provide a break for some of the higher seniorities having to serve reserve. The company will be watching October very carefully, if the changes are received positively, and the operation runs fairly smoothly, we can expect more positive changes in the coming months.
New COVID cases have been rising and putting a strain on the sick list. This makes for some uncertain times when predicting how demand will be affected. Bookings dropped for the Labor Day holiday, but the company is banking on having a strong holiday season. The company has also changed its stance on the sick policy. As of August 15th, sick calls will be counted as points under the attendance program. They did erase the points up to that date which may have led to the restoration of bonus points. These bonus points should be reflected in you My View- Attendance/Performance by the end of October. Check your points for any discrepancies after the corrections have been made and send those over to Flight Service and include your Union reps. The company has also changed the pandemic leave policy to where they will not be extending the leaves and pay protection to unvaccinated flight attendants. You will have to use the sick policy, but there should be no points assessed with a sick call for a positive test result. You also should file an IOD if exposed at work.
Scheduling has been getting creative with the rescheduling language in the contract. APFA Charlotte has filed NODs on many of these “creative” reschedules. We also filed a base NOD to provide pay protection for flight attendants who had their last sequence lead-in trip modified and it resulted in a loss of pay. If you have been affected by a change to your last trip, please fill out a APFA Scheduling Systems Issue report found on APFA.org.
Your Charlotte APFA Team continues to fight for better sequence construction, adherence to the contract and the growing list of challenges being thrown at us every month. The company has made management changes in several departments, and we will continue to fight for every issue until significant improvements are in place that restores a livable work environment for all flight attendants.
Take care of yourselves and each other. ~ The Charlotte APFA Team
APFA CLT Base President
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