• American Airlines claims mechanics could cause thousands of summer flight cancellations

    By: Gina Esposito

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - American Airlines claims its mechanics are to blame for disrupting travel to 125,000 people from February to May.

    Charlie Kosior said he had a flight delayed due to maintenance during that time frame, and he wonders if it's connected.

    [ALSO READ: Contract negotiations between American Airlines, airport union workers at standstill]

    "I was actually returning from the West coast a few weeks ago and got stuck in Dallas for a couple of hours,” he said.

    A federal lawsuit said mechanics working on American Airlines planes across the U.S. are refusing to work overtime and aren't traveling to make repairs when needed.

    At Charlotte Douglas Airport, the lawsuit claimed, there were times that 100 percent of workers chose not to take those maintenance trips. It also mentions the union in Charlotte was encouraging mechanics to stop doing extra little things at work.

    As a result, the lawsuit said it has caused around 644 flight cancellations and more than 270 maintenance delays lasting longer than two hours.

    The lawsuit said maintenance workers wanted leverage in ongoing contract negotiations.

    In March, Charlotte mechanics held a protest. They said they worried American Airlines would outsource thousands of jobs and cut benefits.

    [RELATED: Airport union workers picket as negotiations with American Airlines stall]

    "There was certainly a process before this happened and how that could fail completely is hard to understand,” said traveler Beth Quinn.

    American Airlines said part of the reason it's taking legal action is to get the mechanics to stop slowing down maintenance before it impacts summer travel.

    Summer travel for the airline starts Thursday. The airline said if problems continue, we could see more than 2,000 delays and cancellations, impacting more than 300,000 people.

    [ALSO READ: Airline group predicts another record for summer travel]

    Travelers, like Barbara Kosior, hope things can get resolved soon, especially for her daughter who plans to travel with young children.

    "It’s a scary thought, delays. She has two kids two little children. That would be really bad for them," she said.

    TWU-IAM Association, the local union mentioned in the lawsuit, released the following statement: 

    “It is unfortunate that American Airlines has chosen to abandon negotiating with its employees and instead go straight to federal court. The airline is frustrated with the Association for refusing to allow more of our maintenance and repair work to be outsourced to South America, China and Europe. We are also standing strong against cuts to our medical benefits and retirement security. Our members value American Airlines fliers and work hard every day to ensure they have the best experience possible.  

    “The Association is ready and willing to get back to the bargaining table at any time and negotiate a fair joint collective bargaining agreement, but to do so would take a willing partner. We would much prefer to be at the negotiating table than in a legal battle brought on by American.”

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