Categories: world

More Southwest plans out of commission as airlines are battling with mechanics

New documents obtained by CBS News show the situation on at Southwest Airlines is worse than previously known. On several occasions over the past week, more than 60 Southwest 737s were taken off by the operation of mechanics for unprotected maintenance. The airline says that "unscheduled airplane downtime", or UADs, has nailed several maintenance hubs in particular. Southwest said on February 12, the average UAD in Orlando has risen to 60 hours per day compared to an average of 10.2 hours per day over the past two years. In Houston, the UAD had an average of 1 8.6 hours a day but jumped to 111 hours on February 12 and then rose again to 127 the following day. "But there have been no mechanical problems on southwest roads that justify this level of OTS aircraft" Southwest vice president and chief lawyer, Mark Shaw, wrote in a letter to the mechanics association Friday . He accused the union of organizing an illegal worker action to protest against displaced contract negotiations. "We have identified a group of about 100 mechanics in charge of virtually the entire increase of UAD hours … This concentration of activity in a discernible pattern shows that the source of the increase … is an illegal coordinated activity" Shaw wrote. Bret Oestreich, the national director of the American Mechanics Fraternal Association, said the union – representing about 2,600 southwestern mechanics – "strongly rejects these allegations." "AMFA has not urged, does not support and will oppose any work in…

New documents obtained by CBS News show the situation on at Southwest Airlines is worse than previously known. On several occasions over the past week, more than 60 Southwest 737s were taken off by the operation of mechanics for unprotected maintenance. The airline says that “unscheduled airplane downtime”, or UADs, has nailed several maintenance hubs in particular.

Southwest said on February 12, the average UAD in Orlando has risen to 60 hours per day compared to an average of 10.2 hours per day over the past two years. In Houston, the UAD had an average of 1

8.6 hours a day but jumped to 111 hours on February 12 and then rose again to 127 the following day.

“But there have been no mechanical problems on southwest roads that justify this level of OTS aircraft” Southwest vice president and chief lawyer, Mark Shaw, wrote in a letter to the mechanics association Friday .

He accused the union of organizing an illegal worker action to protest against displaced contract negotiations.

“We have identified a group of about 100 mechanics in charge of virtually the entire increase of UAD hours … This concentration of activity in a discernible pattern shows that the source of the increase … is an illegal coordinated activity” Shaw wrote.

Bret Oestreich, the national director of the American Mechanics Fraternal Association, said the union – representing about 2,600 southwestern mechanics – “strongly rejects these allegations.”

“AMFA has not urged, does not support and will oppose any work in any form,” he wrote in a letter to the mechanic on Friday in response to Shaw’s letter. “Members are unequivocally instructed to refrain from collective action to keep their services from the company or to reduce their services or to disrupt the business for illegal reasons. Doing your job as a licensed technician is not illegal.”

Nick Granath, a lawyer representing the Mechanical Association, said Southwest and its leading leadership “would be ashamed.”

“AMFA members of Southwest Airlines are working according to the requirements of their FAA issuing A&P licenses,” he said. “Southwest Airlines should thank these men and women for their commitment to security, instead throwing the unfounded accusations.”

The escalating word of word between the airline and the union comes as Southwest CEO Gary Kelly attempted to strike a conciliatory tone in an email to employees late on Friday – his first official commentary since the overrun in out-of-service aircraft, which has resulted for at least hundreds of canceled flights and thousands of delays.

Southwest, which operates a fleet of approximately 750 Boeing 737s, typically has as many as 20 out of service at any time. The airline previously stated earlier this month had seen an increase to the 40’s every day before the number jumped to 60 last week.

“We are suddenly in a period of excitement and concern surrounding aircraft for maintenance and AMFA contract negotiations,” Kelly wrote in his email, apologizing to employees and customers for “difficulties” that the situation has created over the past two weeks. “Our mechanics are extraordinary, I am proud of them, and they have been particularly heroic in getting airplanes to return to service over the past two weeks. They deserve all our thanks, they also deserve a new job contract.”

Earlier this month, a CBS News survey discovered allegations by the mechanic at the southwest of improper pressure to keep aircraft in use. We have since heard from more than two dozen Southwestern mechanics who say employees were emboldened to write up maintenance issues after our report was sent in an attempt to fully comply with the FAA regulations.

The Southwest plan is taken out of service as a mechanic gives rise to security obstacles

Southwest Airlines and AMFA have been locked in tense contract negotiations for six years. Last autumn, the mechanics voted down a new contract, and the airline says that the current operating problem began almost immediately after the latest negotiations. Intermediate work negotiations begin until March 12.

The latest “unprecedented increase” in out-of-service aircraft allowed the Southwest to explain an “Operational Emergency State” at five of its 20 maintenance facilities – Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Orlando and Phoenix. The emergency declaration allows the airline to allocate additional working hours, change shifts and assignments, limit holidays and change switches, and extend the use of third party supplier mechanics.

Outside of aircraft has prevented the airline’s business for over a week now, resulting in hundreds of cancellations and thousands of delays. On Saturday, Southwest continued to experience more delays and cancellations than any other US operator, according to FlightAware.

But while hundreds of mechanics have signed up to work overtime at the five maintenance bases where Southwest Airlines has declared an operational emergency, the airline told CBS News that it did not “have to lean on overtime”. According to the Swedish Federation of Mechanical Engineering, only two mechanics – in Phoenix – were called to work overtime in the middle of the so-called operational emergency. “

Southwestern Spokeswoman Brandy King told CBS News by email when, due to the Operational Emergency,” only a limited number of mechanics are using vacation days “and the airline has” redistributed additional staffing to support planned maintenance and existing aircraft “resulting in in “more hands on deck” to do the necessary work, which reduces the need for overtime.

When the initial emergency was announced on February 15, unions expressed concern about the possibility of mandatory overtime leaving workers exhausted. Southwest said it did not need ” enable “mandatory overtime that allows the airline” to keep us employees and not introduce unnecessary fatigue. “Southwest directs some of the work away from its own mechanics to third party entrepreneurs instead.

Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven said in a statement Tuesday the airline used one team of third-party vendors to handle as “highly-scheduled maintenance program work … as possible which allows our Southwestern mechanic to work with increased workload of maintenance tasks they have identified. “

Van de Ven seemed to blame the union for the out-of-service aircraft and wrote in a statement” AMFA has a history of work disruption and Southwest has two ongoing lawsuits against the union. We will investigate this current interruption and explore all possible solutions. “

AMFA Governor Bret Oestreich replied,” these allegations called “scapegoats” and “simply an attempt to divert attention away from the airline’s security issues.”

The union told CBS News: “All equipped aircraft were written for legitimate problem. “

Share
Published by
Faela