American Airlines says it will fly fewer planes in July because too many of its pilots are calling in sick. The carrier says it will cut one percent of its flights next month. It had already reduced its schedule by 1.5 percent in June.
So why are so many pilots calling in sick? A spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association said Wednesday that many could be having elective medical procedures completed before the airline, which is working through a bankruptcy, raises premiums and co-payments for their medical insurance.
The Associated Press reports that AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, says labor costs are among the factors that led it to declare bankruptcy in November of last year. It also cited the rising cost of jet fuel. The airline has already eliminated several senior management jobs, and was expected to cut another 1,400 management and support jobs this week. American says the goal is to cut $1.25 billion from its annual labor budget.
Adding to the pilot shortage is an increasing number of retirements last month. Fifty-seven pilots filed retirement paperwork in May compared to 15 in April, the union said. That allows those pilots to lock in the value of their pensions at a rate available before a May stock slump.
AA Spokesman Bruce Hicks said that the airline will be rescheduling flight in an effort to provide reliable service while keeping summer travel disruptions to a minimum.