Monday, February 8, 1999

Pilot fight scraps
6 isle flights

The local cancellations by
American Air were among 500
called off across the nation

By Russ Lynch


American Airlines canceled three of its six mainland-Hawaii round-trip flights today, as a slowdown by pilots forced the airline to cut 500 flights across the country.

Stephanie Welch, Hawaii regional sales manager, said the round-trip flights -- San Francisco-Honolulu, Dallas-Honolulu and Los Angeles-Maui -- were canceled in both directions.

However, efforts were being made to place all passengers on other flights and it is a relatively soft period for Hawaii travel anyway, she said.

"It's more than likely they'll be accommodated on other airlines," Welch said. American has an affiliation with Hawaiian Airlines Inc., which has frequent West Coast service but does not connect with Dallas.

Outbound from Hawaii, the three flights canceled today were the 2:30 p.m. to San Francisco, 6:37 p.m. to Dallas and 10:46 p.m. Maui-Los Angeles.

The three American Airlines flights that were running today were a second Dallas-Honolulu flight, one Los Angeles-Honolulu and one Chicago-Honolulu.

The airline, which started cutting flights nationally on Friday, was unable to look beyond today and officials at American's headquarters at the Dallas/Fort Worth said passengers should call the airline's reservations lines (833-7600 or 1-800-433-7300) to check on their flights.

The 500 flights scratched today equals about 22 percent of the airline's 2,250 flights. American canceled 11 percent of its flights yesterday, and 4 percent on Saturday.

The current dispute between the airline and the Allied Pilots Association arose from the parent AMR Corp.'s December acquisition of a low-cost carrier, Reno Air. In recent negotiations, the union has proposed that AMR speed up an integration that would double the pay Reno pilots' pay to match scales at American.

Federal law prohibits the American pilots from going on strike but more than usual have called in sick and others are refusing to work overtime.

Hawaii had American Airlines flight cancellations two years ago, as the airline repositioned aircraft in the days leading up to a pilots' strike deadline. The strike was averted at the last minute by a 60-day cooling-off period invoked by President Clinton but it took several days to get American back on schedule. The pilots now have a contract that runs through 2001.

The last airline strike to hit Hawaii was a 15-day walkout by Northwest Airlines Corp. pilots, which began Aug. 28. Northwest shut down its entire system in the peak end-of-summer period.

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