Tuesday, August 9, 2022
APFA CLT Base Brief – September 2022 Staffing and Allocations
Good Day CLT Flight Attendants,
We had our monthly call with the Company last week. Here is what you can expect for September 2022:
- Total Headcount: 2,822
- Inactive: 158
- Active Headcount: 2,664
- Lineholders: 2,095
- Reserves: 569 (21.3%)
- Expected Line Average: 80.3 hours
We have very little change and many of the same problems we have been seeing for over a year now. While our actual manhours will go down by about 5000 hours, the number of trips will increase by about 6%. The reduction in manhours is due to a seasonal pull down that happens every year in September. The pull down of time usually starts at the end of August but this year it will not happen until September 7th after the Labor Day Holiday. Much of the seasonal pull downs will be happening in other bases, we will see a reduction in Banks of flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
The number of mainline flights out of Charlotte will actually have a small increase through October. This is a sign of the strength we have as a Hub where the demand for our flying remains very high. One of the reasons for the loss of manhours is that the Company will be redistributing Charlotte flights to other bases to help even out the larger pull downs in the other bases. The increase in actual trips comes in the form of more 1- and 2-day trips with a reduction in 4-days and 3-days. With several schedule changes planned as the month progresses, many of the trips only run once a month, not daily or weekly. There are some gems spread throughout the month because of the schedule changes, so take some time and look at the trips.
The number of legs in a duty period, block hours in a duty period, sit time, and the length of the duty days are also affected by the pull down and redistribution of time. This is the ebb and flow of how the optimizer handles the changes from month to month, season to season. It is very much the balloon example of pushing on one end causes a bulge on the other. Those in the staffing department end up playing whack a mole to even out the bulges.
Some of the highlights for September include:
- Frankfurt is back, there is a positioning trip on September 5th, and then it runs daily starting on September 7th. This brings us up to 7 IPD flights until the seasonal winter pull down at the end of October.
- Labor Day Weekend (Friday, September 2nd through Monday, September 5th)
- Largest schedule change (pull down) on September 7th.
- Additional flights added for Burning Man Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Bristol Nascar Race, multiple college football games, and multiple NFL games.
- 42 Charters will run in September
As you can see, the Company is actively trying to capitalize on the leisure market that is still in demand.
Our active headcount continues to grow as we are slated to continue getting new hires added to our ranks in September. Our active head count will be 2,664. We will have 2,095 Lineholders and 569 Reserves. The percentage of Reserves is 21.3% and does not include any new hires because they will be coming online later in the month. The line average will be 80.3 hours and there will be no VLOAs.
Our Reserve numbers were disappointing at 569. 21.3% is higher than we have seen historically, usually September drops down to 19%. The Company said higher usage numbers last year are why they have raised the numbers this year. We did point out the obvious, last year we were growing the system incrementally adding time while we still had a good portion of our ranks still on leaves. Our sick rate was much much higher last year, and we were understaffed. In the simplest terms, apples to oranges. We believe the Company is being overly cautious and keeps raising the Reserve numbers to cover a broken system. Take July as an example, we had 17 weather events in Charlotte. The sick rate in some bases is still high, maintenance issues plagued the schedule, and the system was littered with broken trips. Around 60% of all the trips system wide come through Charlotte or Dallas. This led to Charlotte Reserves having to pick up the pieces. This is an example of why we might have heavy usage in one month over another.
These types of factors are used when planning the number of Reserves in the same month next year. But what happens next year if things are completely different? Should we have to suffer with high Reserve numbers next July because this year was bad? To some degree, those factors have to be added, but by how much? We believe the Company is being overly cautious and using problems from last year as an excuse to inflate the numbers when the situation we have this year is completely different. We all remember what happened at the end of October last year, can we expect obscene Reserve numbers this year for October? According to the model they are citing now, the answer would be yes. The problem then compounds itself, the more people placed on Reserve, the higher the seniority has to rotate. When this happens month after month, people cannot accurately plan for Reserve rotation because it becomes unpredictable. If the numbers are abnormally high in September and October, will that cause me to be on Reserve in December? If I did not plan for this when I bid vacation (Last winter), I may not even have the option to bid down in October to protect the holiday months. If the seniority for Reserve gets very high for the holidays, a whole new set of problems emerge. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy that we have warned about before and have seen play out several times in the last few years, but our warnings have done little but play on deaf ears. The warning is simple, mind the Reserve numbers now, or face the repercussions during the holidays.
Charlotte is in a very unique situation this year over the last few years, as we have been getting a large number of new hires. Because of this, we don’t anticipate the seniority of rotation to be as drastic as it has been the last 3 years during the holidays. But now a whole new group of flight attendants have to try and plan out their strategy for the fall and into the holidays. If we stop getting new hires and the numbers continue to rise each year, there is no telling where rotation will lead, this is true of any base as we have seen this year. Our Reserve rotation seniority for September will cut off at March 2016. APFA continues to seek every solution to lowering the Reserve numbers (Such as vacation buyback) but the Company has chosen a path and are not willing to deviate.
Our trips will break down as:
- 1-days will make up 23% of our trips (↑)
- 2-days will make up 29% of our trips (↑)
- 3-days will make up 17% of our trips (↓)
- 4-days will make up 2.5% of our trips (↓)
- 2/3-days will make up 11% of our trips (↓)
- 3/4-days will make up 4.5% of our trips (↑)
- ODANs will make up 7.6% of our trips (↑- largest amount this year)
- Red eyes will make up 3% of our trips (↑)
- There were a few more Pink eyes and Bullets but they still come in under 1% of the trips.
As you can see the 1-days and the 2 -days saw a nice increase in the number of trips, but many of them only run a few days a week or only once the entire month. Take some time to look through them, there are some really nice turns, but we still have the usual 4 leg one days, and they haven’t found a solution to cutting the sit times in between the turns.
The 4-days went down in one column, but the 3/4-days increased in another. The shift did not improve the commutability of the 4 days no matter how you label them with 75% being not commutable on one end or the other.
Charlotte had the highest number of ODANs we have seen since last year. Many of the other bases saw decreases in the number of ODANs in their bases. We also saw an increase in Red Eyes and slight increases in Bullets (All night turns) and Pink Eyes. IPD will be offering 7 trips and the NIPD trips remain strong with pull downs done by the reduction in banks on certain days of the week. All this diversified flying will allow us to have a greater choice when building our lines. Nitsch flying is something that has a trickle-down effect to every seniority and is something we always push for.
We were pleased with the overall distribution of trips and the creation of as much flying as they can to capitalize on where the demand is. September has some interesting trips because of the switch from the summer schedule to the fall schedule, look for the 47-hour Red eyes, or the 42-hour layovers that correspond with the changes. Keep an eye out for the charters, these are the types of trips that do not show up very often and can add some variety to what you may be used to. There are also some challenges with the schedule changes such as double leg home red eyes where the computer is just trying to keep the crew with the airplane and sees an opportunity to build something different. Again, take some time to look through the trips, there are some gems and there are some stinkers.
Here is the September 2022 Bidding Timelines:
September 2022 Bidding Timelines
As we bring this crazy summer to a close in September, we are hoping to see more improvements but are doubtful anything drastic will change as long as the Company remains rigid in the basic models they use. Being overly cautious and setting Reserve numbers before setting line averages only causes problems like constraints on the number of low lines and adds to the existing problems. Months like September should be experimental months for the Company.
It wasn’t that long ago where they made the decision to decrease the 3- and 4-days and build more 1- and 2-days. When they decided to make this shift, there was a lot of angst with what would happen, but the outcome was pleasantly embraced by the flight attendants. A lot of the negative changes we have seen were because of the schedule forced on us during COVID and the challenges it presented. Many of those challenges no longer exist yet the same models are being used. Those changes created new problems, but we are not seeing any new approaches to address the new problems. It is as if they are creative on one hand, but continue to cling to several core beliefs on the other, and do not realize the problems will never get much better.
Take care of yourselves and each other,
The Charlotte APFA Team
APFA CLT Base President