Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
Amid increasing passenger frustration over flight delays and cancellations, American Airlines sent a two-sentence letter to its pilots union on Monday asking to open contract negotiations.
American Airlines sent a written request to its pilots’ union on Monday asking to open contract talks amid increasing passenger frustration over flight delays and cancellations.
The Allied Pilots Association had no immediate response but said it would consider the request in a meeting on Wednesday.
The bankrupt airline had been asking to meet with pilots for a few weeks, said spokesman Bruce Hicks.
At first, the pilots declined and then asked the airline to put its request in writing, he said.
The company did that in a short, two-sentence letter late Monday.
APA spokesman Tom Hoban confirmed the union received the letter but declined further comment.
Earlier this month, the federal judge overseeing American’s bankruptcy voided the pilots’ contract to allow the company to slash benefits and work rules after the union rejected the company’s final offer.
At the same time, the airline is under pressure to strike a compromise with pilots before it emerges from bankruptcy. The airline's two other major unions -- representing flight attendants and ground workers -- have already agreed to accept concessions.
American says it has been forced to delay and cancel flights because pilots have called in sick far more than usual – and delayed flights by asking maintenance crews to repair items like burned-out passenger reading lights, broken coffee pots, and torn seat covers.
Pilots deny any organized slow-down.
Some passengers say they feel like pawns – caught in the middle of the heated labor dispute.
"I think it's the employees," said Lee Maas of Irving, who arrived at DFW Airport Monday evening. "They're just playing games. I think they're trying to make their points. They know it's the only way they can hurt them. It's sad."