The president of the Allied Pilots Association sent a letter to union members Thursday that reminds them the pilots' union hasn't authorized any concerted job action and that any pilot efforts to slow the airline down must stop.
The move comes after American Airlines sent a letter Wednesday night to the APA warning that if pilots don't end actions that are disrupting its flights, it will take the union to court.
The warning came after the APA agreed to return to the bargaining table to hash out a new contract for pilots. The APA called Wednesday night's letter, "nothing short of a 'sucker punch.'"
The bankrupt airlines says increased sick days and maintenance complaints by pilots have caused a spike in canceled and delayed flights in September.
The APA continues to deny any organized sickouts and its president Keith Miller reminded members in Thursday's letter.
"To be clear, APA has not authorized any concerted job action and APA disapproves of any such illegal activity. If, as Ms. Lynn alleges, pilots are using their professional discretion to delay departures through unnecessary checks, frivolous maintenance write-ups (and late filing), slow taxiing to increase block times, and taking circuitous routings, that activity must cease immediately."
Miller recapped the events of the last week and reminded pilots that AMR is watching the airline's operations looking for any activity that disrupts the airline.
"On a related note, as the APA Safety Committee addressed earlier today in a system-wide e-mail message, the AMR Certificate Management Office (which holds FAA oversight for the American Airlines air carrier operating certificate) is currently conducting specialized Operational Risk surveillance on the airline’s operations. This surveillance is focused on frivolous maintenance discrepancy reports, misuse of the approved Minimum Equipment List, lack of adequate maintenance, time escalations, mishandling of aircraft trim settings, crew rest and duty time, disruptions of airport ground operations and traffic flow, and falsification of maintenance discrepancy release statements. This specialized surveillance will remain in effect throughout the bankruptcy process."
Miller also let the pilots know what will happen if American takes any legal action against the union.
"If management seeks a temporary restraining order against APA, make no mistake—we will likewise defend ourselves vigorously. However, by being forced to defend ourselves in court, we’re diverting resources that your leadership believes would be more effectively deployed elsewhere. And with AMR in Chapter 11 restructuring, our legal advisers indicate that it’s highly likely management’s request for a restraining order would be granted. Based on the recent experiences of other pilot groups, it’s clear that we would be seriously disadvantaged if we are forced to conduct ourselves under a restraining order. There is no strategic advantage whatsoever for APA to be placed in that situation."
Miller ended the letter by telling the pilots, "A meaningful improvement in American Airlines’ operational performance is essential to keeping our focus where it belongs."
The APA board will meet again on Oct. 2 to discuss its next steps to securing a contract with American.
American Airlines said it had no response to Thursday's APA letter.