PHOENIX, July /PRNewswire-FirstCall/—America West Airlines` (NYSE: AWA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker issued the following letter to all America West employees regarding an article in today`s Wall Street Journal:
“There is an article in this morning`s Wall Street Journal that mischaracterized our company`s relationship with our pilots, and I want to be sure each of you understands the facts.
The article begins, `Pilots are turning up the heat at America West Airlines, vowing to strictly enforce work rules that could cause operational slowdowns—if management doesn`t voluntarily restart contract talks after a scheduled meeting Monday.` Later in the article it states, `Last week, gearing up for a showdown with the company, the leadership in a hotline message instructed its nearly 1,700 members to strictly abide by contract work rules, something that could prove disruptive by affecting on-time performance and canceled flights.`
First, it`s an enormous stretch to suggest that the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) hotline instructed pilots to `strictly abide by contract work rules.` The hotline simply ended with the message, `Fly safe and follow the FOM.` FOM is an acronym for our Flight Operations Manual, which contains operating procedures for our pilots. It is maintained by the company and we agree that our pilots should always follow the FOM—that`s why it`s there. The fact is ALPA hotlines have ended with this same message numerous times since the contract became amendable. Not once in that period have we seen our pilots do anything to disrupt our airline, nor do we expect them to do so now. Suggesting otherwise detracts from the tremendous professionalism of America West pilots, who have played an important role in the operational turnaround that has made us all so proud.
Second, there is no `showdown` coming Monday. Our Chief Operating Officer, Jeff McClelland and I are meeting with our pilot leadership next week as we now do with each of our unions each quarter. We anticipate that our pilots will ask us to restart negotiations without the National Mediation Board (NMB) being present (the NMB put our talks on indefinite recess after our pilots rejected a tentative agreement in February). Given our improved summer performance, Jeff and I had already decided to agree to ALPA`s request on Monday because we think it`s the right thing to do. Jeff explained this to the Wall Street Journal reporter, but apparently she didn`t understand.
In summary, we agree with our pilots that we should start talking again, and we`re prepared to do so as soon as ALPA is ready, with or without the NMB. There is no showdown and our pilots have given no indication that they plan to do anything but continue operating like the professional, industry-leading pilots that they are. Of course, agreeing to talk doesn`t mean we`ll immediately agree to terms. As these negotiations progress, I`m sure there will be additional opportunities for rumor and misinformation to spread through the media. I`ll do my best to keep you informed, but please help by filtering out the noise and remaining focused on working together to take care of our customers.
Thanks again for the fantastic job you`re doing and please keep it up.”
Founded in 1983 and proudly celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2003, America West Airlines is the nation`s second largest low-fare airline and the only carrier formed since deregulation to achieve major airline status. Today, America West serves 92 destinations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.