American Issues Layoff Notices, Cuts Flights

September 18, 2012

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American Airlines said on Tuesday it has notified more than 11,000 workers they could lose their jobs as part of its bankruptcy, and added it is cutting flights by one to two percent for the rest of September and October.

The US carrier, which filed for Chapter 11 protection last year, expects fewer than 40 percent of those it sent notices to, or 4,400 people, will actually be laid off in November and December, spokesman Bruce Hicks said.

The layoff notices were issued under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires employees to be informed 60 days before major layoffs or plant closures.

"The notices will look worse than the actual layoffs," said Jamie Horwitz, a spokesman for the Transport Workers Union, which represents workers that received WARN Act notices.

Horwitz said about 800 employees had agreed to leave American voluntarily, a move that will further reduce the number of expected layoffs.

In February, American had outlined plans to cut as many as 14,000 jobs as it looks to streamline in bankruptcy.

The flight schedule cuts for September and October were set partly because an increase in pilot sick days and greater maintenance reports by flight crews led to flight cancellations and delays, Hicks said. American operates about 1,700 flights a day.

Last week, American began implementing cost cuts for its union pilots after gaining bankruptcy court approval to abandon its collective bargaining agreement with the Allied Pilots Association.

According to data from FlightAware, American Airlines in recent days has cancelled more flights than other major US airlines.

On Monday, for example, American cancelled about 2.1 percent of its scheduled flights, or about 73, compared with an average of 0.4 percent for other major US airlines that day, FlightAware said.

Mark Duell, vice president of operations at FlightAware, said cancellations at American have been well above the rest of the US airline industry for the past two weeks.

Pilot union spokesman Gregg Overman said on Tuesday that sick rates for American pilots have not deviated from normal historical rates, based on the union's tracking. He said there have been more mechanical delays.

The pilots are the only major work group at American that has not agreed on contract concessions since the airline filed for bankruptcy in November last year.

In a message on Tuesday, union President Keith Wilson said pilots were "angry" since American began imposing new work terms that cut their compensation and benefits.

The pilots union is conducting a strike vote until October 3, but has previously said it will not walk out unless it is legal to do so.