Management at American Airlines is refusing to be roadblocked by its pilots in forging a joint business agreement with British Airways and Iberia after its pilots union filed a grievance with an arbitrator claiming the tie-up violates scope elements in the current contract.

Leaders of the carrier's Allied Pilots Association (APA) tell members that scope clauses in the agreement stipulate all flying performed on behalf of American should be done by pilots on the airline's seniority list.

"Our scope clause does contain a variety of exceptions - including those for code-sharing agreements and commuter affiliates - that have permitted management to engage in various alternatives to having an American Airlines pilot at the flight controls. There is no such exception for this type of joint business agreement," says APA.

American disputes those claims, noting the deal fully complies with all labor contracts.

"It's unfortunate the union has made such a calculated effort to undermine something that aligns with the APA's goal of protecting jobs and offering pilots more flying opportunities. Though we are disappointed in the union's political maneuver, it does not alter our plan to proceed," explains a spokeswoman for American.

The head of APA Captain Lloyd Hill has sent a letter to the CEOs of BA and Iberia questioning those carriers strengthening their ties with American through the proposed business venture. The letter also emphasizes the need for American to reach a deal with its pilots before the joint agreement can proceed.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Finnair and Royal Jordanian. On 14 August British Airways and American, along with their Oneworld alliance partners Finnair, Royal Jordanian and Iberia filed for anti-trust immunity for coordination on flights between the USA, Mexico, Canada, the European Union, Switzerland and Norway.

The agreements are also drawing criticism from other global network carriers. Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson told employees last month that American and British Airways need to relinquish enough slots at London Heathrow to ensure "everyone has unfettered access" to the airport.

Virgin Atlantic has repeatedly criticized the proposed tie-ups. Carrier president Sir Richard Branson recently pointed out British Airways, Iberia and American would hold nearly all of the take-off and landing slots at Heathrow.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news