More than 100 American Airlines pilots have reported allergic reactions to the carrier’s new uniforms, leading the pilots union to launch an inquiry into the issue.
“We’ve had pilots that are beginning to report the same reactions as our flight attendants,” said Allied Pilots Association spokesman Dennis Tajer. “We had about 100 reports but we’re getting indications that there are more out there.”
The new uniforms, manufactured by Twin Hill and rolled out in September, have been distributed to over 80,000 employees including pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and ground workers. Thousands of flight attendants have reported getting hives, rashes, headaches and respiratory problems because of the new uniforms.
Some pilots have taken medical leave due to reactions related to the uniforms, Tajer said. The union, which represents 15,000 pilots, has decided to conduct a survey of its members and provide a process where pilots can report uniform problems. At this point, the union does not know how widespread the issue is, he added.
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American has declined to recall the new uniforms although it set up a hotline for employees within days of the uniforms being introduced. The manufacturer has added polyester and cotton versions of the uniforms that employees can order. American has also added an option for flight attendants made by a different manufacturer.
Employees are also allowed to wear their old uniforms or other off-the-rack clothing that looks similar to the new uniforms.
“We’ve been in touch with the APA on the final process of adding a fourth option for pilots,” said American spokesman Ron DeFeo. He added that the airline has received only four injury-on-duty claims from pilots related to the new uniforms since the rollout.
Twin Hill has repeatedly said the uniforms are safe to wear and that scientific testing has shown chemicals found in the clothing are below established industry levels. American has shipped over 1.8 million pieces of the uniforms to its employees.