CHICAGO — Hundreds of uniformed American Airlines pilots stood silently along Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago all holding signs as part of a peaceful demonstration against current working conditions.
Raises and improved work schedules were among the concerns raised by airline workers.
Allied Pilot Association, the union that represents over 14,000 pilots of American Airlines, says they are feeling overworked and frustrated with ongoing contract negotiations.
“For more than two years now, our members haven’t gotten raises. We haven’t gotten quality of life improvements,” said APA president Edward Sicher. “We’re still working under the same work rules we were under during COVID.
“Management right now, the same management team that sold tickets to a service they realistically can’t provide is now trying to run our pilots harder to the limits of their duty days to the point where a lot of us are fatigued.”
Aside from higher pay, pilots demand better work-life balance, schedules, and benefits. It’s why pilots brought their demands straight to the heart of the city to show the flying public what’s going on with their crews.
“They’re going in the public and going out into the world that American has to fix its operations,” said airline expert Dr. Joe Schwieterman who believes American Airlines has had a lot of disruption with frequent delays, cancellations and staffing shortages.
“They’re performing poorly on customer surveys and you feel that in the cockpit,” Schwieterman said. “Pilots are fatigued at the stress of the airline right now.”
Passengers on American Airlines have also experienced inconveniences well beyond packed airports, picketers said.
“From June to today, there have been 1.2 million passengers impacted by cancellations by American Airlines alone,” said Captain Dennis Tajer.
The air captain says that the airline is failing to live up to service with massive delays and cancellations.
“That’s what we are trying to fix,” Tajer said. “This is just unbelievable. I’ve never seen this in my 30 years at American Airlines such a failure of scheduling.”
While pilots describe the recent months as a flight-mare for both flyers and crews, they say workers will never compromise safety.
American Airlines on Tuesday issued the following statement:
“American’s pilots participate in informational picketing periodically, which isn’t out of the ordinary and will not have an impact on our operation. We remain committed to reaching an agreement with the APA that will benefit our pilots and our operation. Last month, we passed an updated, enhanced comprehensive proposal to the APA that would ensure our pilots are paid well and competitively and that they see significant improvements to benefits and quality of life provisions.”