Will Rank Lower Than More Recent Hires At America West
arbitrator ruled this week that some 1,800 pilots at US
Airways will return to their jobs at the airline, now merged with
America West, lower on the seniority-list totem pole than when they
left. More recent hires by America West, prior to the merger, will
hold higher positions.
The only exceptions will be 517 US Airways veterans who fly
routes to Europe. They will remain at the top of the combined list,
according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But that's little
consolation to the rank-and-file on the flight line.
"Our pilots are infuriated," US Airways pilots spokesman Arnie
Gentile told the paper. "Absolutely infuriated. [Seniority] is
everything. It's career goals, it's money, it's time off, weekends
off, vacation. It's who gets to ride in the airplane. It's
The arbitrator's decision reflects the generally stronger
position America West maintained throughout the merger, a source
close to the proceedings, who wished to remain anonymous, told ANN.
While the combined airline carries the name US Airways, it is
headed by former America West CEO Doug Parker, and is based at AW's
former headquarters in Tempe, AZ.
US Airways pilot Bill Pollock, who once chaired the airline's
branch of the Air Line Pilots Association, says the ruling ignores
sacrifices pilots at US Airways made throughout two bankruptcies
within two years, prior to the merger. He says if ALPA lets the
arbitrator's ruling stand,
it "could be the straw the breaks the camel's back."
"Our national union must see that this is corrected before
permanent damage is done," Pollock said. "When you have nothing
left to lose, you entertain extreme actions, one of them being
kicking (the Air Line Pilots Association) off of the US Airways
The decision will also further complicate efforts to create a
single contract for pilots at America West and US Airways, still
operating under their own contracts after two years.
"The contract is no longer our main focus," ALPA spokesman
Gentile said "We are just too busy right now to deal with that,"
adding "all avenues" are being considered to protest the
US Airways spokesman Phil Gee expressed hope a single contract
for all pilots might still be reached before the end of the year.
But that's likely wishful thinking.
"I've never seen USAir pilots this mad," one Pittsburgh pilot
told the Post-Gazette.