American Airlines and its mechanics have been locked in a bitter labor dispute over contracts since the beginning of the year. AA management and the union representing the mechanics haven’t been able to agree on a contract and passengers (including me) have been paying the price.
Over the summer AA filed a lawsuit against their mechanics, accusing them of intentionally disrupting operations by forcing aircraft out of service in order to gain leverage in negotiations. AA won the court case and a US federal court issued a permanent injunction against American’s mechanics union after the judge determined that union members coordinated the slowdown, and that the union failed to take every reasonable action to prevent it.
THE JUDGE WASN’T JOKING
Well, if the mechanics aren’t happy, it just became considerably worse for one mechanic.
On Thursday, an American Airlines mechanic was arrested and charged with sabotaging an aircraft’s navigation system on a flight carrying 150 people from Miami to the Bahamas on July 17,2019.
Flight 2834 received an error message after starting the engines and the crew was forced to abort takeoff and return to the gate, according to an affidavit filed in federal court on Thursday.
According to the affidavit, the mechanic told law enforcement officials that he was upset about contract negotiations and that the “dispute had affected him financially.” He also told officials that he inserted a piece of foam into the inlet of the plane’s air data module, which measures the plane’s pitch, speed and other information.
The criminal complaint also states that the suspect said “his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers” but to “cause a delay or have the flight cancelled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work.”
The mechanic is set to appear in court today (Friday), according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.
The actions of this mechanic are mind-boggling. I understand that everyone wants (and needs) more money but placing the safety and, perhaps, mortality of countless people in jeopardy for overtime pay is unconscionable.
If you’ve flown on an American Airlines flight recently, you may have been the recipient of the internal war that is taking place at AA. I know in my last 7 AA flights, 2 of them have been canceled and 3 have of them have been delayed by an hour or more.
Hopefully management and the union can come to an agreement, and things can return to an only slightly messy operation.
Have you flown AA recently? What has been your experience?