US Air, Pilots Settle Work Slowdown Lawsuit

January 10, 2012

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US Airways and a union representing 5,200 pilots have agreed to end litigation spawned by what the carrier called an illegal work slowdown.

Both sides have asked US District Judge Robert Conrad in Charlotte, North Carolina, to make permanent his September 28 order that directed the union to temporarily end the slowdown, a Friday court filing shows.

In its July 2011 lawsuit, US Airways accused the union of encouraging pilots to work more slowly, delay departures, call in fatigued and boost "maintenance write-ups" to speed up contract talks. The Tempe, Arizona-based carrier said the actions caused more delays and cancellations, and an increase in the rate at which customer baggage failed to make connecting flights.

"Rather than proceed with this litigation, the parties have agreed and stipulated that the preliminary injunction should be converted into a permanent injunction and that final judgment should be entered in favour of US Airways," the filing said.

US Airways and pilots have been in often-contentious contract talks since the 2005 merger of the old US Airways with America West Airlines, with the main dispute over seniority.

"We are hopeful that this will soon be behind us and that our pilots can focus their energies on negotiations and resolve their seniority dispute that has been an obstacle to reaching a single agreement," US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said.

Union spokesman Todd Fieser had no immediate comment.

Relative to the industry, the on-time rate of US Airways flights improved more after the September 28 injunction from where it stood before the lawsuit.

The percentage of US Airways flights delayed at least 15 minutes in arrival fell to 14.1 percent in October from 25.11 percent in June, data from the government's Bureau of Transportation Statistics show.

Industry wide, the rate of arrival delays dropped to 13.52 percent in October from 21.03 percent in June.

(Reuters)