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American Airlines pilots reject holiday pay increase amid schedule concerns

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American Airlines pilots reject holiday pay increase amid schedule concerns
An American Airlines flight is seen at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Mo. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 10 (UPI) -- A union of American Airlines pilots has turned down an effort by the carrier to avoid trouble over the holiday travel season by offering to pay them as much as twice their normal rate.

The board of directors of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents about 15,000 AA pilots, voted against the proposal, which would have paid at least 150% of pilots' normal wages to pick up shifts around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.

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Under the proposal, AA pilots would have received double pay to pick up open holiday trips.

"The board received a full briefing ... and thoroughly considered all aspects of the [proposal]," the union said in a statement on Tuesday, indicating that it's more interested in permanent changes to pilots' contracts.

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"While understanding that its rejection creates a disparity among our fellow work groups that have accepted management's proffered incentives, the board concluded that the need to achieve meaningful permanent improvements in a new collective bargaining agreement must remain APA's focus."

Scheduling is an example of one issue that the pilots union wants to see addressed. American was forced to cancel more than 2,000 flights early this month and in late October due to bad weather and staffing shortages.

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The airline has already addressed the shortages by making a deal with AA flight attendants that was similar to the one it offered the pilots.

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"Management is failing to address the long-term solutions and is just trying to throw money at the problem," APA spokesman Dennis Tajer said, according to The Dallas Morning News.

"The problem is connecting pilots to the airplane and throwing money at it doesn't fix the structural problem that management has created."

AAA said this week that it expects about 4.2 million Americans will travel by airplane this Thanksgiving, an 80% increase over the same period in 2020 when many opted not to travel for the holidays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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