Friday, February 12, 1999

Pilots refuse
to end sickout

American Airlines asks for
a contempt of court order as it
cuts 1,046 more flights

From staff and wire reports


DALLAS -- American Airlines cancelled nearly half of its flights today as a federal judge heard a contempt motion against the pilots union as a job action continued despite a back-to-work order.

This morning, company spokesman Tim Smith said the carrier was cancelling 1,046 flights out of its normal 2,250 daily flights for today. Most of its Hawaii flights were cancelled.

More than half of the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier's flights were cancelled yesterday as the airline's problems with the disgruntled pilots union grew. Pilots continued to call in sick and refused to fly overtime, leaving thousands of passengers stranded across the country.

In Miami, Lucia Bernan and her 4-year-old daughter Melanie were trying to figure out how to get back home to Caracas after their flight was cancelled. "My flight was supposed to go out at 10:30 and here I am. I don't know what's going to happen," said Bernan.

"It's incredible to me how such a prestigious company could do something like this . . . Everything is so disorganized that it's extremely hard to believe this is actually happening."

This morning the airline had three departures from Honolulu still on the schedule, one to Dallas, one to Chicago and a special flight to Los Angeles.

The other flights on its normal schedule -- one Honolulu-Dallas flight, one each to Los Angeles and San Francisco and a Los Angeles-Maui round trip -- were dropped. Hawaiian Airlines added a Los Angeles-Maui round trip to help American,

American advises passengers to check with reservations at 833-7600 in Honolulu or 1-800-433-7300. The airline also has begun running a simplified list of cancelled flights on its Web site,

Pilots are angry over the integration of recently purchased Reno Air, which has resulted in disparities in pay.

American pilots are barred by federal law from striking over the issue, but federal regulations do require individual pilots to call in sick if they think they are under undue emotional stress.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall ordered an end to the "sickout" job action that has been going on since last Saturday, but that seemed to have little effect. He had scheduled a hearing for this morning in his Dallas court on a request by American to hold the Allied Pilots Association in contempt.

According to American, 1,170 of its 2,250 scheduled flights were cancelled yesterday, the most in one day since the job action began.

"We're surprised by the conduct of the union leadership," said John Hotard, a spokesman for AMR Corp., the parent of American. Capt. Jim Philpot, a spokesman for the union, said, however, that the APA is complying with the temporary restraining order.

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