Dallas (AP) -- American Airlines says it will reduce flights in July partly because of a shortage of pilots due to more of them calling in sick, but none of the reductions will affect flights from Miami.
The 1 percent reduction in July’s schedule follows a 1.5 percent cutback in June, which was also blamed partly on higher usage of sick leave by pilots.
A union spokesman said Wednesday that pilots could be taking care of elective procedures before American raises their premiums and co-payments.
American is also expected to announce soon the next step in its plan to eliminate 1,400 management and support jobs by late summer. The company has previously announced the elimination of several senior executive jobs, and several top officials have retired. American has about 73,000 employees.
American, the nation’s third-largest airline, and parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in November after losing more than $10 billion over the previous decade. The company blames high fuel and labor costs. The airline can’t do much about fuel prices, but it is asking a federal bankruptcy judge in New York for permission to break labor contracts so that it can eliminate thousands of jobs and reduce benefits for its roughly 55,000 union workers. The judge is expected to rule June 22.
Even without layoffs, American could be facing a shortage of pilots during the busy summer vacation-travel season. A company spokesman said July flights were being reduced for several reasons, including an increase in pilots calling in sick. The spokesman, Bruce Hicks, said that by reducing scheduled flights, American “will ensure we provide our customers with reliable service while minimizing any impact to their travel plans.”
Gregg Overman, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said the union doesn’t track use of sick leave by its members, but he said any increase might be related to American’s proposal during its bankruptcy process to make employees pay more for health care.
“Some pilots who postponed elective surgery might be going ahead before their co-payments go up and their premiums go up,” Overman said.
American is actually adding flights from Miami to two new destinations — Seattle and Manaus, Brazil — beginning on June 14.