American Airlines sends layoff warnings to 11,000 workers

DALLAS — American Airlines is sending layoff warning notices to more than 11,000 employees, though a spokesman says the company expects job losses to be closer to 4,400.


The notices went out to mechanics and ground workers whose jobs will be affected as American goes through a bankruptcy restructuring.

Airline spokesman Bruce Hicks said Tuesday that fewer than 40 percent of those getting notices will lose their jobs. He said federal law requires the company to notify anyone whose position could change, including those who could get “bumped” by more-senior employees whose jobs are eliminated or outsourced.

American said in Febru­ary that it planned to cut 14,000 jobs, including 13,000 held by union workers. If Hicks is right, the final job losses will be about a third of that.

This summer, American accepted slightly smaller cost-cutting measures as it negotiated new labor contracts, and it agreed to give bonuses to flight attendants and ground workers who quit.

So far, 1,800 flight attendants and 800 ground workers have applied to take the money and leave.

Layoff notices went to nearly 3,000 workers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where a maintenance facility will close; nearly 3,000 more at a base in Tulsa, Okla.; and smaller numbers at airports across the country.

Separately, the leader of the pilots’ union blasted the company, saying it is “paying lip service” to negotiating a contract while using the bankruptcy process to wring punitive cost-cutting concessions from pilots.

Pilots voted overwhelmingly against the company’s last contract offer, and a federal bankruptcy judge allowed American to impose new pay and working rules on pilots.

The Allied Pilots Asso­ciation has asked federal officials to approve steps that could lead to a strike, but that permission hasn’t been granted.

Hicks said American is ready to resume negotiations “when the union is ready.”

Still, pilots are holding a strike-authorization vote. And according to the company, they are calling in sick more often than usual, contributing to an increase in canceled flights. American has trimmed its September and October schedule by up to 2 percent to make sure it has enough pilots to operate flights.

Hunter Keay, an analyst for Wolfe Trahan & Co., said he does not think the threat of cancelations will lead travelers to avoid American. But he said there has been “a clear deterioration in labor relations” at American.

An American merger with US Airways Group Inc. could produce a bigger airline with more revenue and more labor peace, Keay said. US Airways has lobbied for a merger but American executives have been reluctant.

American and parent AMR Corp., which is based in Fort Worth, filed for bankruptcy protection in November.