Changing cabin cleaners for its aircraft has not gone smoothly for American Airlines.
Hundreds of flights have been delayed at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in the past few days as the Fort Worth-based carrier started using AirServe as its cabin cleaners on Thursday.
"As is typical when starting a new relationship with a vendor, we had a few hiccups during the first days; however, things with AirServe have greatly improved since then," American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said in a statement on Monday. "We hold our contractors to the same high standards as our in-house employees."
According to FlightStats.com, 140 American departures out of DFW were delayed by more than 15 minutes on Monday. The day before, only half of American’s flights departed on time from DFW with 229 flights delayed.
Sources told NBC5 that AirServ employees did not have the correct identification badges needed to work in secured areas of the airport and were entering through American’s old mail sorting facility to access the planes to clean them.
The dayline cabin cleaning used to be performed by Transport Workers Union employees, but as part of American’s restructuring in bankruptcy, the union agreed to allow the carrier to outsource its cabin cleaning to a third-party contractor. As a result, hundreds of TWU workers were laid off at several airports across the country.
American has said in bankruptcy documents that it would save $29.8 million annually by outsourcing dayline cabin cleaning.
UPDATE: I had a chance to talk with TWU Local 513 president Darrin Pierce on Tuesday morning. Pierce said there have been quite a few delays at DFW since the new vendor took over the cabin cleaning work from the union workers. About 220 workers in his local were laid off as part of the outsourcing.
"The jobs we are talking about, we’ve had for decades so we know how to do it," Pierce said. "Unfortunately, we lost those jobs through the bankruptcy process. The new company that is performing this job, at a lower wage doesn't know how to do them yet, so American is going to take some lumps as it goes through this."