The Allied Pilots Association (APA) claims that the cancellation of up to 2% of flights at American Airlines through October is due to maintenance-related issues and not pilot sick usage.
The Fort Worth-based Oneworld carrier said that it would cut 1% to 2% of its flights through October due to "operational and staffing resources" on 18 September.
"We have verified that pilot sick rates have not deviated from normal historical rates," says the APA. "One area of increased operational unreliability we have observed is in mechanical delays, which isn't surprising. Although American Airlines operates the oldest fleet of any major US carrier, management has decided to furlough a large number of mechanics and close one of its largest maintenance facilities."
American denies the allegations that the operational issues are related to maintenance issues.
"The recent disruptions are primarily due to the significant increase in maintenance write-ups by our pilots, many right at the time of departure," says the carrier. "Additionally, continued higher-than-normal sick usage by pilots, which has been up more than 20% year over year and has been elevated for months, impacts the availability of reserve pilots, which can ultimately lead to cancellations."
American sent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (Warn) notices to more than 11,000 Transport Workers Union represented employees, which includes maintenance personnel in both the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Tulsa, earlier this month. It expects to actually let go of about a third of the employees who received the notices.
In addition, the airline announced the closure of its Alliance maintenance base in Texas earlier this month.
In August, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) filed a $157 million claim for potential penalties against American with the US bankruptcy court in New York. It said that the penalties were for alleged safety violations related to repair and overhaul of the airline's aircraft.