Pilots fight `by the book'


Corn Field
Nov 11, 2003
Pilots fight `by the book'
Some US Airways captains press for restored wages with strict line on rules
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Frustrated US Airways pilots are mounting an informal "just do your job" campaign, with some refusing to help with routine tasks that keep planes on schedule.

Some are also going a step farther and flying "by the book," which means following rules exactly. That can also cause delays and missed connections for passengers and cost the airline money.

The actions are part of pilots' efforts to restore some pay cuts by escalating pressure on management during contract talks.

Pilots and other employees have grown increasingly frustrated with the pace of labor negotiations, especially after US Airways management launched its failed hostile takeover bid for Delta nearly three months ago. Employees said management should have made new contracts before attempting to buy Delta.

They have been staging informational pickets at several airports, but pilots say they will up the ante. More than any other employee group, pilots can impact whether flights depart or arrive on time.

They emphasize that safety won't be compromised, but pilots may no longer assist flight attendants in cleaning planes or alerting gate agents when two passengers have the same seat assignment.

"I would say that morale is at such a point that pilots just want to come in, fly the plane and go home," said Arnie Gentile, a US Airways pilot and spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association.

Others say they could begin following rules precisely. That means pilots might taxi slowly or fly slower when approaching turbulence. That could add to delays, costing the airline money and creating ill will with passengers.

Pilots could also ask for more fuel, thwarting management's efforts to control that expense. US Airways and other airlines are trying to trim the amount of extra fuel planes carry because the extra weight makes planes less efficient.

US Airways pilot James Ray said he has been asking for more fuel to increase his comfort level during flights.

"We're doing what's safe," said Ray, of Charlotte.

So far, there is no concerted effort by the airline's pilots to fly by the book, union officials said, though some pilots have already become sticklers.

US Airways said the pilot actions are "typical" during labor negotiations. United pilots staged a slowdown six years ago during contract talks.

"Our pilots are consummate professionals and continue to perform safely and efficiently," US Airways said in a written statement. "This is typical talk meant to generate solidarity when in the midst of negotiating a new contract. We continue to diligently negotiate with them and hope to come to an agreement soon."

Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics show a slight increase in US Airways delays from October to December, the last month data was available. That doesn't compare apples to apples, however, because weather gets worse with the onset of winter.

ALPA must walk a fine line with any coordinated job action that could be seen as a contract violation. American Airlines pilots were fined $45 million by a judge seven years ago after staging a sickout. The union paid about $20 million of that fine. The airline agreed not to collect the rest if pilots agreed to wage cuts during restructuring.

US Airways was formed in fall 2005 with the merger of the old US Airways and America West. The airline has painted most of the old America West planes in US Airways liveries, but the carrier still operates as two airlines, including having two separate labor contracts for pilots and other employees.

Pilots from the old US Airways contend they are among the lowest paid in the industry, even though the airline was one of the most profitable carriers last year, with $558 million in operating income.

US Airways captains earn roughly $124 a flight hour. Southwest Airlines captains, who are the highest paid nationwide, earn $200 a flight hour, and the industry average is $150, according to US Airways union officials.

US Airways pilots generally fly about 85 flight hours a month, which is a heavier workload than most carriers.

First officers, or co-pilots, earn less.

Pilots say they don't expect all of their pay cuts to be restored, but they want to be paid more, especially since the airline is so profitable.

US Airways executives have said they want to have single labor contracts before the airline gets its single operating certificate from the federal government. But they have said that's not necessary, and they will keep labor groups on separate contracts if they can't get a good deal.
Don't worry, 700UW - someone said that this is all just union PR and agreement on a single contract will be reached in about 4 more weeks.....

Don't worry, 700UW - someone said that this is all just union PR and agreement on a single contract will be reached in about 4 more weeks.....


Are you being sarcastic or do you believe this will really happen?
Don't worry, 700UW - someone said that this is all just union PR and agreement on a single contract will be reached in about 4 more weeks.....


Not according to the Joint Negotiating Committee and what Jack Stephan said in a recent code-a-phone.
Would The Pilots EVER Support The Flight Attendants If They Were To Do CHAOS ?
Are you being sarcastic or do you believe this will really happen?

He wasn't serious. It was a jab at USA320's assertion that the contract issues would be resolved shortly enough. The following is dated Jan 13, 2007.


In the airline industry company and union communications have a “spinâ€￾, which are third party comments designed for the audience. Much of the time they do not represent specific information and are designed to manipulate the reader.

US Airways and its unions are making progress on new collective bargaining agreements with proposals being passed back and forth across the table. In the case of the pilots, every section of the contract is now open and just this week one member of the JNC told me that he believes there will be a new pilot TA obtained in about two months, in these voluntary negotiations. In my opinion, there will be new agreements reached for all of the union’s that will be timed around the new joint operating certificate
No, I wasn't being serious. Barring Doug asking what it'd take to settle the contract (with checkbook in hand and pen out), I seriously doubt that the contract will be settled anytime soon. After all, as long as there are the two contracts, "cost neutral" automatically exists.


I tend to agree - I always hated to inconvenience the passengers. Fortunately pilots are in the enviable possition of being able to send a loud and clear message to management without the passengers ever knowing.

As I've mentioned before, adding $10-15 million to fuel cost per month is child's play. All it takes is the collective will to do it.

Ironically, the 4Q06 fuel burn per hour was the lowest since 4Q05....

I share the frustration with every US Airways pilot because I believe the company's pilots are grossly under paid and over worked.

During bankruptcy I indicated that the union's should cut deals that limit their concession verus giving more than the "ask", which could help US Airways to live another day versus liquidating. Forcing an airline into liquidation serves no useful purpose. Then when times improve employees should be rewarded for their sacrifice while living to fight another day.

Now is that time.

I continue to believe from personal discussions with JNC members that there will be new working agreement in the not-to-distant future. All along I have said there will not be a new pilot contract until about the time US Airways obtains its new operating certificate from the FAA.

Why? A new contract will increase the company's costs prior to the carrier being permitted to obtain complete operational/financial synergies. Will management do that? Probably not, but as I indicated earlier, I continue believe there will be a deal on or about the day the operational certificate is obtained.



P.S. By the way, Scott Kirby recently called John McIllvenna and Jack Stpehen and told them he is going to directly join the ALPA JNC contract negotiations with company and ALPA negotiators. Hummm?????
At UAL, the FIN, or Fix It Now program is off and running. Why the heck would anyone do anything other than their jobs, absolutely correctly and by the book. No, I will not do engine runs, ride the brakes, reposition an aircraft. Nor will I taxi faster than a brisk walk, I will configure and be stabilized early, and generally not climb above initial cruise altitude, unless driven by turbulence.

In short, managements, beit USAirways, United, Delta or whom ever try to extract what ever they can from their employees, by getting you to do more for them while pushing the idea that it is professional. Its not, professional is doing your job by the book. Be as professional as possible.


Forcing the airlien into liqudtion serves no useful purpose. Then when times improved employees should be rewarded for their sacrifice while living to fight another day.

Now is that time.


Your comment above is absolutely right on track. Everyone should act and now. Solidarity from UAL,

Denver, CO
I share the pilots frustrations with Management at US Airways.

It hasn't been easy on the customer side of the fence either.

Being a customer I'm always a little concerned over the "Work to rule" type actions we are hearing about here.

All I would ask is that you factor the customer into your equation when you comtemplate which rules to work, to when. Customers AND employees are NOT the enemy when it comes to building shareholder value. There must be a balance.

I try not to inconvenience customers...ever.

But customers have the luxury of taking their business elsewhere and their lives hardly skip a beat. You can plan your trips on United, Delta, Continental, etc. and be mildly inconvenienced.

We are basically tied to this carrier. I cannot just show up for work at the UA, DL, CO, etc. crew room when it suits me to do so.

So pardon us for any inconvenience you might encounter while we struggle against these bas***ds in whose pocket you pour your money.
Don't worry, 700UW - someone said that this is all just union PR and agreement on a single contract will be reached in about 4 more weeks.....

DB says not even close, maybe by end of the summer. FLY BY THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I saw Parker's comment on theHub too. Parker indicated that ALPA's current proposal is $400 million per year higher than the current pilot contract(s), which is why the parties are so far apart.

Nonetheless, I was recently told by a JNC member he thought a deal would be reached early spring, Scott Kirby told both MEC chairman earlier this week that he will directly join the negotiations (could this be the ol' "walk in the park"?), and it is my belief the company wants to time its new pilot working agreement with obtaining the combined operating certificate.