American Airlines’ long-standing mechanics dispute may be in the past

Jan 31, 2020

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American Airlines and the union representing its mechanics have reached a new labor accord that may end the disagreements that have plagued their relationship in recent years.

The carrier and the TWU-IAM Association have an agreement-in-principle on a new five-year contract covering the more than 31,000 staff, including American’s mechanics, fleet service and stores employees, they said in separate statements Thursday.

The deal, which still must be finalized before being put to employees for a vote, includes wage and work rule improvements, as well as the integration of the still-separate American and US Airways’ staff into a single group that would come more than six years after the carriers’ merger.

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Early in 2019, an alleged work slowdown by mechanics and other staff forced American to cancel around 1,000 flights through May. A court ordered the slowdown halted in June, though American claimed the impact continued into July.

The alleged slowdown coupled with the impact of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding took a bite out of American’s financial and operational performance through last summer.

American and the TWU-IAM group have been in discussions over a new agreement since 2015. However, differing maintenance philosophies, for example American traditionally did much of its work in house while US Airways outsourced more, proved a drag on talks.

American was ranked fifth in on-time arrival performance among mainline North American carriers in 2019, according to flight-data and analytics firm Cirium. The airline saw 79.9% of its flights arrive on time, nearly six-points lower than market leader Delta Air Lines.

Related: American and Delta were the world’s largest airlines in 2019

Featured image by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

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