Those who have been following the saga over at UAL know that morale is in the toilet and the pilots are worn out due to manpower shortages. UAL has seen a spike in runway blunders and have been damn lucky to not have had a hull loss in a few of the incidents during the past year.
Last Spring UAL in conjunction with ALPA started a "safety stand down" to address some of the operational errors. It was a program called "On The Line" that included some focus on the growing problem of pilot fatigue. One solution that was promoted was self-assessment and the responsibility to self-certify fitness for flight.
Pilots are becoming familiar with depression and anxiety disorders, and getting help identifying acute and chronic fatigue in these company sponsored events. As a result, the sick leave usage rates have apparently risen. In response, UAL has canceled all further On The Line safety seminars citing budget constraints. About half of all UAL pilots have attended.
So with this tidbit as a backdrop, enjoy UAL's latest press release.
United Takes Action to Protect Customers, Employees
United Seeks Injunction to Stop Unlawful Job Actions of ALPA and Certain
CHICAGO, July 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- United Airlines today filed
a lawsuit asking a federal court to stop the Air Line Pilots Association
(ALPA) and certain pilots from continuing to engage in deliberate,
organized and unlawful job actions that resulted in hundreds of flights
being canceled and impacted thousands of customers and employees.
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction against ALPA and four named
pilots for organized sick leave abuse in opposition to the company's plan
to reduce its fleet size and furlough pilots and to pressure United into
renegotiating terms of a collective bargaining agreement that remains in
effect through 2009. The lawsuit also seeks an end to a public campaign of
intimidation that discourages pilots from picking up additional flying,
effectively engaging in a slowdown.
"It is absolutely irresponsible for ALPA to promote unlawful behavior,
particularly in this environment, when the industry is taking unprecedented
actions to offset record fuel costs," said Pete McDonald, executive vice
president and chief administrative officer. "Our employees are working hard
to make our company successful. We are going to ensure the integrity of our
operation and will not allow the actions of ALPA and certain pilots to
continue to harm our customers, our employees and our company."
McDonald said the company pursued every other possible resolution -- at
significant financial cost -- before pursuing litigation. These included
increasing reserve pilot staffing and negotiating with ALPA to modify some
of the work rules in the current agreement.
United also noted that the rate of first officer sick leave in certain
fleets is up 103 percent this summer. Further, driven by ALPA directives
and intimidation, picking up additional flying, as is standard practice
throughout the industry, has dropped precipitously compared to that of
previous years. In 2006, pilots were five times more likely to fly
additional trips compared to today.
"The job actions have escalated, and the impact on our customers and
employees is unacceptable, and must stop," McDonald said.
United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAUA
) operates more than 3,200* flights a day
on United and United Express to more than 200 U.S. domestic and
international destinations from its hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C. With key global air rights in the
Asia-Pacific region, Europe and Latin America, United is one of the largest
international carriers based in the United States. United also is a
founding member of Star Alliance, which provides connections for our
customers to 975 destinations in 162 countries worldwide. United's 55,000
employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the
world. News releases and other information about United can be found at the
company's Web site at united.com.
*Based on United's flight schedule between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31,