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September 17, 2012

American cancels 5 percent of its flights...is it a pilot sickout?

In the past two days, American Airlines has canceled about 5 percent of its flights and it doesn't appear that weather is a factor (although it was drizzly here at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on Sunday).

The sharp eye of Gary Leff, who blogs at BoardingArea.com, noticed the cancellation statistic when running American's network numbers at FlightStats.com and posed the question if American's pilots were holding a sickout.

The answer from the Allied Pilots Association is a resounding no.

"No one at APA has either sanctioned or supported any kind of 'job action' or sickout.  It is illegal to do so," said APA spokesman Tom Hoban. "That being said, you've got 8,000 pilots that are witnessing a handful of senior executives at AA that have chosen in a very deliberate manner to dismantle and destroy their profession. To say that the pilots at AA are not happy would be the understatement of a lifetime."

Interestingly, about 30 of the 100 flights canceled each day are at American's hub at Dallas/Fort Worth, according to FlightStats.

American spokesman Bruce Hicks said the carrier assesses its operational schedule all the time.

"We are constantly evaluating our schedule based on operational and staffing resources, as well as seasonal demand, making adjustments when necessary," Hicks said. "The schedule adjustments we are implementing will ensure we provide our customers with reliable service while minimizing any impact to their travel plans."

-Andrea Ahles


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Here is some interesting reading from a pilots forum discussion how to slow down operations...



This is absolutely true that the pilots are not showing up for work. Several AA employees all but said it had to do with the Chapter 11 problems. I was one of the many that had flights cancelled and wasting a whole day and night at DFW ! I'm really disappointed in this airlines level of service!

Gerry Hilden

No, its not a sick out. Pilots are not carrying the weight for mgmt. The faa has increased their presence so pilots are conducting thorough preflights. This is causing mx delays.

The crews from inbound flights are delayed, AA is out of reserves, the pilots are not flying overtime...thus flights cancel for lack of crews.

Pilots are flying and going home. No more carrying the weight for mgmt.


Sadly, this would not surprise me at all. APA runs around acting like a bunch of spoiled children these days.

"You give us a term sheet, we give you a sick out!"


Cancelling flights is not "reliable service," and being forced to choose between taking a replacement flight at 5:30 AM the next day or paying for a new ticket affects not only my "travel plans," but my ability to show up to work and perform well the next day. Air travel these days is a nightmare, and cancelled flights don't help one bit.


These pilots are bunch of children. You all made your own bed.


There is no pilot sick out. Most of the cancelations are due to aircraft out of service. Our TWU mechanics were served with WARN layoff notices that will see them unemployed at Christmas and you now see the results. Funny how the rush is to blame the pilots. Maybe a good reporter could actually get the facts out.

R Davis

It's called disruption. The APA can dance around it all the like. Why are flights late? Fly a lower than expected speed so your customers miss their connections. What is important to them? Not customer satisfaction.

Corporate Pilot

These pilots are trying to operate safely while working for a NASTY company! The pilots of APA put AA back together after 9/11. Carty/Arpey/Horton didn't have a clue how to do it. They then gave their management at AA a bankruptcy contract in order to stay out of bankruptcy. What did AA do with it? They did nothing with it except kick the can down the road a little farther while giving themselves massive bonuses. Meanwhile, the competition (Delta/United) actually have competent management teams and you see where they are today. Now, AA management wants to have a cost advantage over the competition (again) on the backs of the pilots because they know they can't manage their way to sustained profitibility on a level playing field. The solution is new management from top to bottom. And you want to blame the pilots for this mess? Give me a break!

Sad but True

Really? Do your homework before you make a comment! There is NO SICK OUT! No one is flying overtime & why should they? They have given to Management before & look that they got in return....NOTHING! SO if anyone has a BRAIN they would get the current MANAGEMENT OUT! They are the ones to blame. it is obvious that management cares NOTHING about Morale in their company!!


Those people who say the pilots are not calling in sick have no idea what they're talking about. I'm sure they've been coached by the APA on what to say or how to create a slowdown. It's sad that they do this to the detriment of the other employees at AA and more importantly to the people who provide money for their checks, the customer. "Professional" is not a word that should be used to describe the ones involved in this.


To some of you Know Nothings,ie MNJ and Airlinerealist...read Corporate Pilots post. Could not have said it better myself and so true!


Teresa....please provide some factual sick time usage statistics to back up your statement. Seriously....provide something.

AMR Employee

@Gerry Hilden and Teresa,

Tell me, Do either of you work in Crew Scheduling??? If so how about some stats and/or facts?


Typical Union tactics: When unions get greedy is when jobs go to China! Won't be long until AA gets Chinese Pilots then the FAA will have to get Mandarin speaking flight controllers. Pilots probably vote for O as well because that is what the union thug bosses tell them to do and most are mindless selfish robots. So you can fly a plane...big damn deal, bet many of you couldn't handle the ticket counter because your tactics are pissing off customers. People stand up and start boycotting businesses who employ union employees (Walgreens is non-union, Most CVSs are Union). I have never worked for any airline.

Corporate Pilot

OHIOFFL: Walgreens pharmacists ARE UNION and STRONG! Funny how pilots are not worth the money until your own pink body is in the fuselage!! Flying a jetliner is waaay beyond you. If it is no "big damn deal", give it a try! I officially volunteer your family as your first passengers! Good luck!


ARE YOU KIDDING? You don't think sick calls have gone up? It's a fact, GOOGLE it for goshsakes. You don't need someone from crew scheduling to provide stats, read a stinkin' paper!

Gerry Hilden

Flight times from point a to b are the same. The pilots are not flying slower. Airspeed is set by atc.

Older planes, fewer mechanics, more mx problems delay the flights. The pilots sign in on time and wait also for a mechanic to show up.

AA is the problem. Cast your stones in the right direction.

Gerry Hilden

Get your facts strait-

The Faa requires a pilot to read,speak, and write English. They must also be a US citizen.

The planes are sick not the pilots

Gerry Hilden

Airline 101

Airlines layoff employees, outsource the work and upset the customer. Eastern, People Express, Lorenzo.

AA is laying off 4500 ground staff in Florida, 5000 mechanics and closed the Eagle base Lax for pilots and FAs.

Skywest will fly the routes and private companies will do the ramp work so AA does not have to pay benefits.

AA pilots contract allowed them to fly 80 hours. AA now wants 100. The pilots are not flying overtime. AA has 700 pilots still on furlough and predict they will be 400 short by next summer.

More hours per pilot is one less employee to pay benefits. Do you have a 401k at work? After Oct 31, the pilots will have no pension or 401k.


Upper mgmt cronies at AA awarded themselves 6 mil ea in PUP bonuses before filing for BK and will be awardec more after exiting BK.

AA said they were running a smooth operation Correction...the pilots were running a smoothe operation. The FAA fined AA 45 mil for mx failures.

APA is at odds with the pilot group. They wanted the Final offer to past. They stood to gain millions of dollars. No..the pilots are not coached on what to say or do.

The pilots have been negotiating for years to get a fair contract (like any other work group with a union).

AA mgmt are spin masters. Its easy to blame the pilot group and make them a scapegoat for mgmts failures and greed.

Tad Westphal

The FAA has increased conducting their own preflight. Large fines levied against AA. Planes are old, more write ups, and pilots are personally fined if they do not write a mx issue up.

Bondholders were awarded judgment in BK court for more money from AA to upkeep their planes. AA does not own the planes and can care less if they decrease in value.

The bondholders own the planes as collateral and were worried the value would decrease since AA was not keeping up with the mx.

AA knows new planes are on the way.

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