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Pilots say “toxic culture” is returning at American Airlines

Pilots look out on an American Airlines Boeing 777-300 at DFW Airport on the day that American announced a merger with US Airways in 2013. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis)
Pilots look out on an American Airlines Boeing 777-300 at DFW Airport on the day that American announced a merger with US Airways in 2013. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis) Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis

American Airlines pilots say the “toxic culture” between management and employees at the Fort Worth-based carrier is returning.

In a letter sent to American chief executive Doug Parker over the weekend, the pilots union outlined several issues, such as crew scheduling and payroll problems, that are contributing to poor labor relations.

The Allied Pilots Association, which backed the Parker-led merger of US Airways and American Airlines, said managers at the airline are “clinging to their old ways” while putting out a product that is inferior to Delta Air Lines.

APA Letter to CEO Doug Parker

“The new American Airlines product is outright embarrassing and we’re tired of apologizing to our passengers,” the letter said. “The often-repeated excuse that ‘we need more time’ won’t cut it. Our pilots and passengers deserve better.”

American spokesman Casey Norton said the airline is two years into a five-year integration process that includes $3.5 billion in investments in wages and benefits for employees and $3 billion in customer service products.

“Nothing is going as fast as we’d like but we’re committed to getting it right,” Norton said. “We are committed to making this a fantastic place to work but it’s going to take time to do it.”

American plans to implement its integrated flight operating systems for pilots this fall and is spending $100 million to get employees on to a single human resources technology platform.

Last month, Parker and senior executives held their annual leadership conference, encouraging managers to improve their relations with the employees they supervise and to create a better work culture.

The clock is ticking and the time for inspiring words has passed.

APA letter to CEO Doug Parker

The pilots union says that time is running out unless there is an immediate culture change at the carrier.

“The clock is ticking and the time for inspiring words has passed,” the letter said. “We need concrete action from you, Mr. Parker.”

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

American Airlines officially opened its new $88 million Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center which houses 1,600 employees that oversee the operations of the airline's 6,700 daily flights.

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