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AA Pilots Balk at OT with 2600 Furloughed


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American Airlines Asks Pilots to Fly Extra Holiday Hours

December 21, 2004 - 12:04 DALLAS (AP) - American Airlines is asking pilots to volunteer for overtime because the nation's largest carrier is worried about flight delays during the busy holiday season. American is asking pilots to add flights - at premium pay - if they aren't already scheduled for the maximum workload of 78 hours per month, set in a contract between the Fort Worth-based carrier and the pilots union. The airline can change pilots' schedules to fill its 3,800 daily flights but can't force them to work more than the contract limit. The request for volunteers is part of a contract reached last year between American and the Allied Pilots Association. Still, members of the union criticized American's move, which comes after 2,600 pilot layoffs - they're called furloughs in the airline industry - during the past three years. "It's just poor judgment on their part," union spokesman Denis Breslin said. "It doesn't make our furloughees very happy." A spokeswoman for American, Sonja Whitemon, said the airline has not used the provision since it was approved but reserved the right to do so during the holidays. The airline and the union are already battling over incidents in which pilots call in sick but then use their flight benefits to travel. The company, a unit of AMR Corp., fired a pilot last week for allegedly abusing sick leave. A shortage of pilots can create flight delays. American's on-time performance fell near the bottom of large carriers earlier this year but improved to third, 82.1 per cent, in October, according to U.S. Department of Transportation figures.

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