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Pilots Prepare To Picket American And Southwest Airlines

American Airlines plane
Tom Pennington
Getty Images
American Airlines furloughed nearly 20,000 employees on Oct. 1, 2020.

Pilot unions of both major North Texas-based carriers say the companies haven't adequately managed pilots' schedules, let alone pandemic recovery. So they may picket to press home their point.

The union representing 14,000 American Airlines pilots says poor management decisions led to hundreds of canceled flights after heavy thunderstorms in North Texas last month. The Allied Pilots Association claims the Fort Worth-based carrier failed to connect its pilots with airplanes even days after the weather cleared.

Spokesman Captain Dennis Tajer says the scheduling issues go back several years.

"These are actually foundational issues at American Airlines that are not totally related to the pandemic, and we've watched it every summer. Go check the headlines and you'll see it's happened every summer," Tajer said.

He says the union plans to picket for changes at DFW Airport and other US transportation hubs starting next month.

A representative with the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said some pilots had to sleep in the airport between flights because management failed to book hotels. That borders on federal violations. Pilots have tried negotiating to correct the problems, but say management will not.

In a statement, Southwest Airlines says it disagrees with association members and “remains committed to Pilots’ health and welfare, and navigating challenges in an ongoing pandemic.” American Airlines has not yet responded to a request for comment.

If they picket, American pilots say they’ll first walk at Miami International Airport Oct. 19. Southwest pilots say they could picket later in the 4th quarter.

Texas Public Radio's Lauren A. Terrazas contributed to this story.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.