US Airways pilots' union is asking the bankruptcy court to prevent lawyers representing former America West pilots from interfering with the merger of US Airways and American Airlines.
In a filing made in American's bankruptcy case on Wednesday, the US Airline Pilots Association asked the court to block any possible litigation that former America West pilots may file. USAPA said it had received letters from Leonidas, a firm that represents America West pilots, that detail Leonidas intent to file lawsuits to stop the merger unless a previous arbitration ruling on pilot seniority - called the Nicolau Award - is implemented prior to the merger.
"If Defendant is permitted to prosecute the Action, there is no question that the action itself would distract parties in interest, such as USAPA, US Airways and Debtors, from the important negotiations and tasks attendant to the Merger, would disrupt the orderly integration of the pilot work force, and any injunctive relief granted would have a material and direct impact on the ability of Debtors to consummate the Merger," the filing said.
Former US Airways pilots and former America West pilots have been fighting legal battles over seniority integration for several years and have yet to integrate into one work group following the two airlines' merger in 2005.
At issue is the Nicolau Award which gave higher seniority placement to several younger America West pilots than US Airways pilots. The arbiter had ruled that since US Airways was in bankruptcy at the time of the merger, US Airways pilots had diminished career expectations and were likely to have lost their jobs if the merger had not occurred. As a result, many of the US Airways pilots were given lower seniority.
US Airways has never implemented the Nicolau Award, although management has asked the courts to decide the issue.
In its filing, USAPA argued that Leonidas did not represent as many former America West pilots as it claimed, pointing to the recent vote results of the memorandum of understanding.
USAPA members, including the former America West pilots, voted in favor of a memorandum that supports the American-US Airways merger and lays out a framework for wages and work rules post-merger. The union said 97 percent of the pilots based in Phoenix, which would be former America West pilots, voted in favor of the memorandum and are in favor of the merger.