Thursday, September 27, 2012

AA and Labor - Toxic Today - What About Tomorrow?

Astonishing. That's the only way to describe the apology being issued by American Airlines. Its reputation is on a steep descent and perhaps company honchos have come to believe only a big and sincere mea culpa can save it from disaster.

"This is not the way American Airlines runs an airline. It's not the way we're going to be running it in the future," airline spokesman Bruce Hicks told CBS News.

The desire to keep the airline flying contrasts with the behavior of American's bratty pilots who have been doing everything in their power to disrupt the carrier's operations and meeting with considerable success. Since September 16th, the airline has cancelled more than 700 flights as pilots call in sick or elevate minor maintenance to safety-of-flight issues. On time departures have dropped to 60 percent.

The Allied Pilots Association is knocking right back to the airline, saying if flight schedules are being disrupted it is only because pilots are "taking a prudent and cautious approach in their operational decision making process."

Still, it looks an awful lot like a temper tantrum and its entirely in keeping with the hostile labor relationship at the airline that is as old as Chernobyl and just as toxic.

Sure the pilots are ticked off. Unlike the unionized flight attendants and mechanics, American's pilots voted down the last contract offer leading a federal judge to rule that the bankrupt airline no longer had to honor its previous agreement with the pilots. 

I'm suspecting there's something else at work here because I just can't believe that the pilots are continuing to pound an airline this down and out. 
How about this as a theory: American's pilots are playing for the other team, that team being US Airways, the suitor American hasn't decided it wants.

 American Airlines boss Tom Horton
As US Airways watcher Ted Reed reported recently in Forbes, the ongoing uncertainty in the will they/won't they between these two airlines may have everything to do with which man comes out of the deal on top. American's Tom Horton wants to be boss, but so does US Airways Doug Parker. 

I'm not qualified to weigh in who should be captain, though I'll note that while US Airways is going like gangbusters American has illustrated management don'ts for a lot longer than this present kerfuffle with the pilots. Still, I know running an airline is about a lot more than labor relations and apologies to customers

This dickering between the airline honchos reminds me of the story of Nero. He fiddled while Rome burned.  To put out the fire and restore the American Airlines brand will require considerable management expertise. Somebody better get on it and soon, before there's nothing left but ashes.

1 comment:

Oussama's Take said...

Yesterday both the pilots and AA management indicated that they both wanted to sit and talk. For an airline that has a toxic relations with its labor force. AA staff have always been courteous and professional at least to me, iI know there are horror stories but which airline does not.