Pilots are worried about being blamed for the increasingly publicised airline service crisis the nation faces this summer as more flights face longer and more publicised runway delays. Air line Pilots Association president John Prater tells AB, “We’re not going to take the blame” when planes sits on runways for hours. “We’ve pushed for air-traffic control modernisation for years and we’ll tell our story". Pilots are on the receiving lines of passenger wrath when aircraft sit on the tarmac, and one pilot, a Comair pilot, was on the receiving end of vast amounts of publicity when a passenger on the RJ approached the cabin with a hand-held video recorder to ask about the four-hour LaGuardia delay - and then made a tape of the discussion available to the media.
Prater spoke on the sidelines of an industry luncheon in Washington, where he explained the union’s demands. He said he was not worried about possible attempts to portray pilots as greedy, and noted that airline executive compensation packages would capture as much attention as pilot pay demands. Prater, who took office in January, said that pilot profession had given back some $30 billion in concessions since 2001, and that he was not at all reluctant to seek to recoup those losses now. Prater says, “The reward for this partnership through painful times should be shared prosperity after the crisis.” Prater told the Aero Club of Washington that the 60,000-member union would encourage its local chapters to press for a maximum return but that fatigue and working hours would be as much of an issue as compensation itself. Prater adds, ''We have pilots that have reached the max. You just cannot make the number of trips that they are scheduled for and fly the maximum hours without dealing with fatigue.”