Talks Stall Between Pilots, TWA
Jun. 29, 1998
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Trans World Airlines pilots, frustrated by a snag in contract talks with the airline, may have played a role in some flight cancellations over the weekend, a union official said.
TWA canceled 30 flights on Saturday, and a few more Sunday. But few flights were cancelled by midday Monday, a TWA spokeswoman said.
Pilots union officials said the weekend cancellations may have been related to the stalled talks.
``I know there is a high frustration level out on the line,'' union spokeswoman Gina Butikofer said. ``Many pilots are exercising their legal right not to fly overtime. That could quite possibly affect the operation of the airline.''
TWA officials said the number of cancellations was not unusually high. Spokesman Jim Brown said some pilots may have had to halt work because they were near their federal limit of 100 hours per month.
Negotiators for the airline and the TWA branch of the Air Line Pilots Association met for several hours this weekend.
Last week, the pilots union, frustrated by what it perceived as the company's slowness in negotiations, said pilots might stop agreeing to fly beyond the contract-mandated 70 to 75 hours per month until a new pact is reached. That could lead to flight cancellations, particularly during the busy summer travel season.
Like other TWA employees, the 2,500 pilots have given up pay and other benefits in recent years to keep the company alive. TWA has lost millions of dollars over the last decade and survived two bankruptcies.
In the last year, the airline has shown signs of a turnaround. More flights are taking off and landing on schedule, costs have been cut and the aging fleet has been upgraded.
Union officials say TWA pilots make about 55 percent of the pay of their counterparts at the other major airlines. For example, a TWA pilot of a narrowbody jet like a Boeing 737 makes about $100 per hour. Pilots at other airlines make $140 to $160 per hour, they say.
``We know that the pilots deserve some increase in wages,'' Brown said. ``It's just the process of determining a level that will help make the company successful as well as the pilots.''