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Fri, Jul 22, 2011

Flight Attendants React To AA's New Plane Purchase

Praises Purchase, But Calls For Company To Resolve Three-Year-Old Contract Dispute

After American Airlines announced Wednesday that the company has ordered 460 new narrow-body planes, with options to purchase an additional 465, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said that, while welcoming the news of new equipment, there is still some unfinished business ... specifically the resolution of a three-year-old contract dispute with the union.

The company plans to acquire 260 planes from the Airbus A320 family and 200 Boeing 737s. The company will be taking advantage of approximately $13 billion of committed financing provided by the two manufacturers. “The APFA applauds American Airlines management’s decision to take the company in a new direction, diversify the fleet, and modernize the in-flight experience for passengers,” said APFA president Laura Glading. “But the work is not done. Shareholders should not be satisfied until management has secured both the physical and human capital to be successful and addressed a labor situation that has lingered for more than three years.”

The union is especially encouraged by the fuel efficiency these new planes will provide. This purchase represents a calculated and strategic move to bring American Airlines back to the forefront of this country’s aviation industry. “Today’s announcement shows the company is capable of making strategic decisions,” said Glading. “We call on management to put the same effort toward reaching a comprehensive agreement with its employees that recognizes the sacrifices flight attendants and others made to avoid bankruptcy and allow for today’s promising announcement.”

That Boeing and Airbus were willing to provide American Airlines with favorable financing terms is a testament to the sacrifices that APFA’s membership and others made in 2003 when the company was in dire straits. Without the generous salary and benefits givebacks of the Flight Attendants, totaling over $2 billion, American Airlines would have neither the capital nor credit needed to make such an ambitious purchase.

The introduction of the Airbus A320 family places particular emphasis on the state of contract negotiations for all of the airline’s unionized employees who will need to be trained and certified to operate and maintain the new equipment.

FMI: www.apfa.org

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