Union succeeds in blocking bid to subcontract overhaul work on Airbus aircraft

In what could be a landmark decision, US Airways mechanics have won court approval to block their airline subcontracting heavy maintenance of its Airbus aircraft. The carrier is seeking a stay against the US district court's injunction that was issued last week.

The court order, which was sought by US Airways' mechanics union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), was handed down by the US district court for the western district of Pennsylvania.

US Airways recently contracted with Mobile, Alabama-based ST Mobile Aerospace Engineering for the overhaul of 10 Airbus A319s that are due for heavy maintenance checks this year. The airline argued that it lacks facilities and equipment to complete the scheduled maintenance, but promised to "continue to explore with the [IAM] union the assignment of future Airbus heavy maintenance work" for its other Airbus aircraft.

IAM general vice-president Robert Roach says: "The court recognised the harm US Airways' actions would have inflicted on our membership. We had a strong case backed by 54 years of history and only wanted the opportunity to present our case before the court. Our contract language is clear and unambiguous."

US Airways responded by seeking an emergency stay of the order while it appeals to the third circuit court of appeals.

"We are confident that our position will prevail in the appellate court. In the mean time, we will, of course, abide by the decision and halt the heavy maintenance work on the two A319s that are at Mobile Aerospace," says US Airways.

It adds: "We believe the issues should be resolved by the parties, and again call upon the IAM to work with the company to settle this disagreement...we are willing to work with the IAM to explore ways to bring future Airbus heavy maintenance work in-house."

Source: Flight International