Why American Airlines is going back to blue in new uniforms from Lands' End
By Lewis Lazare – Reporter, Chicago Business Journal
Feb 21, 2018
American Airlines' new uniform project is moving into high gear in the wake of the announcement last month that Lands' End will replace Twin Hill as the uniform vendor for a new wave of uniforms not expected to roll out until 2020.
And it's becoming increasingly clear American's new uniform project is being handled quite differently this time around — with a transparency and a more fully-fleshed-out interactive component that were lacking when Twin Hill was tapped for the previous round of uniforms for some 70,000 AA employees. Twin Hill is a unit of Men's Wearhouse, which is a division of Tailored Brands(NYSE: TLRD).
Those Twin Hill uniforms are believed to be tied to symptomatic reactions experienced by thousands of AA employees — symptoms ranging from rashes and hives to headaches and severe respiratory issues.
"You know better. You do better," is the way Brady Byrnes, AA's director of global marketing, put it in a podcast released this month that sheds more light on how the latest uniform project is proceeding.
In the podcast Byrnes explains why AA chose navy blue as the predominant fabric color in the new set of uniforms. Byrnes indicated it was simply the desire expressed by many AA employees to return to dark blue (technically called "Parisian Night") because that was the color of legacy uniforms at both American Airlines and U.S. Airways prior to the merger of the two carriers in 2012.
The predominant fabric color in the Twin Hill uniforms is charcoal gray — a color that AA employees never warmed to especially.
Byrnes also shared some further details about the new uniform project. Though blue will be the predominant color, this time around AA plans to add touches that will help distinguish one worker group from another at the airline. Those touches could include custom trims and other accessories, Byrnes said.
Another big change AA in the new uniform project involves the uniform testing phase. The plan is to nearly double the number of employees who will test the Lands' End (NASDAQ: LE) outfits in the workplace from just over 500 to 1,000. And Byrnes said the time allotted to test the outfits will be much longer than was the case with the testing of the TWin Hill outfits.
Though AA aims to get uniforms right this go-round, time is a factor.
A lawsuit filed by several AA employees last fall in federal court in Chicago aims, among other things, to get a preliminary injunction for the immediate recall of all Twin Hill uniforms still in the workplace at American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL). Twin Hill and AA are named as defendants in that lawsuit.
An attorney for the plaintiffs in the federal case has signaled that a filing for a preliminary injunction could happen this spring unless the judge in the case moves to dismiss the lawsuit — something he so far has not opted to do.
American Airlines employees operate a vintage 1937 DC-3
by Charles Ely, KTUL
The Detroit is the oldest flying aircraft of that type and it was number 45 off the assembly line. (KTUL)
JENKS, Okla. (KTUL) - Former and current American Airlines employees have joined forces to restore and preserve a vintage 1937 DC-3 airliner, the Flagship Detroit.
The Flagship Detroit lifts off with a deep-throated roar as its polished-aluminum skin reflects the sunlight like a mirror.
It's what flying was all about in the 1930s and 40s when it took 15 hours to get from New York to Los Angeles.
Number 45 off the assembly line, the Detroit is the oldest flying aircraft of that type.
The DC-3 was built at the request of American because it was big enough to make passenger traffic profitable.
American would eventually order 84 aircraft and operated them until 1947.
Retired American Pilot Dave Buffington said flying the Detroit is an honor.
"It's very forgiving and it’s nice to fly low and slow," Buffington said. "It is heavy on the controls because there's no electronic boost to any of the flight controls. So, it's all cables out to the flight controls and is a little bit heavy, but you get used to it very quickly."
Keeping a piece of history airworthy isn't easy for cheap, but volunteers with Flagship Detroit Foundation get it done.
Jim Gentry works at the American Maintenance Base, but he does his share of work on the Detroit.
"Everybody is just happy to do anything. One minute we may be changing a tire the next minute we're maybe washing windows whatever it takes to get it done," Gentry said.
For the passengers, it's exciting and nostalgic all at once.
Pia McBride said it far exceeded her expectations
She said, "Fabulous! That was the best experience. The takeoff, the landing, was the smoother than the stuff now. It was incredible!"
Those who want to fly can join the Flagship Detroit Foundation, and rides are made available throughout the year at no charge.
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JANUARY 18, 2018
American Airlines adding three flight destinations from Philly
BY ANDREW PARENT
The exterior of an American Airlines plane is shown.
American Airlines announced on Thursday that it plans to add new flights from its hub at Philadelphia International Airport to three U.S. locations.
Online booking for nonstop flights to Fort Wayne, Indiana; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Pensacola, Florida opens on Monday, and flights will begin on June 7, the airline said in a press release.
American had previously flown between Philly and Fort Wayne, but the airline stopped flights to and from the northeast Indiana city in 2016 because passenger loads were reportedly not large enough.
The airline previously announced plans in October to add service between Philly and San Antonio beginning on Feb. 15, as well as Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; and Omaha, Nebraska on May 4.
American also announced in August that it will add nonstop flights from Philly to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, and Budapest, the capital of Hungary, starting May 4.
The airline also plans to bring back a daily nonstop flight to Zurich, Switzerland, which had ended in 2016.
American Airlines has commenced flights from three different hubs, all launched on 15 February.
A320 services from the carrier’s second-largest operation, according to OAG schedule data, at Charlotte Douglas (CLT) were started to Tucson (TUS). Additionally, the oneworld airline kicked off a 2,403-kilometre link between Philadelphia (PHL), its fifth-biggest base in terms of weekly seats, and San Antonio (SAT), which is flown by its 128-seat A319 fleet. “Approximately 120,000 travellers fly between San Antonio and Philadelphia each year, so this new service answers the need for many travellers and is a highlight to our economic progress,” said Russ Handy, Aviation Director for the City of San Antonio. Finally, again on the same day, American began the airport pair from Washington Reagan (DCA) to Tallahassee (TLH), operated by its CRJ 900 aircraft. None of the new route trio has any direct route competition, and all will be operated on a daily basis.
American Airlines flight gets cancelled after pilot allegedly attacks ground agent
By Janine Puhak | Fox News
[The flight was immediately cancelled, leaving passengers stranded at São Paulo International airport in Brazil.]
The flight was immediately cancelled, leaving passengers stranded at São Paulo International airport in Brazil. (AP)
American Airlines passengers departing São Paulo International Airport in Brazil en route to Miami were in for a scare when their captain reportedly attacked a ground agent.
The March 8 flight was delayed by 27 hours as a result.
The Daily Mail reported that the unnamed male captain of American Airlines flight AA930 grabbed a female ground agent by the neck when the two began arguing before takeoff, around 1 a.m., over alignment of the jet bridge.
As the agent insisted that the jet bridge was correctly aligned, she apparently stepped on the pilot’s foot by accident. The 59-year-old captain, who has been employed by the airline for the last 32 years, reportedly told the 41-year-old agent “Do not to touch me,” to which she countered that she had “not touched him.”
According to the outlet, witnesses say that the pilot pushed the agent and grabbed her neck before an airport maintenance worker intervened. Flight AA930 was then immediately cancelled, leaving passengers stuck at the São Paulo air hub.
Though American Airlines did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment, they did confirm to the Daily Mail that there was a “discussion” between two crew members and that they are “taking this incident extremely seriously” as local authorities investigate the altercation that went down on International Women’s Day.
The airline offered the Daily Mail the following statement:
"Last night, before boarding AA930 American Airlines flight from São Paulo (GRU) to Miami (MIA), two crew members were engaged in a discussion in the tunnel that connects a platform to the plane. The authorities are now in charge of the case and providing support to staff members. This is a legal investigation and we are cooperating fully with the authorities,” they said.
“Passengers are being accommodated on other flights throughout the day. American Airlines has provided hotel accommodations and meal vouchers. We apologize to our customers for the problem.”
The captain’s passport was withheld by police at the time of his arrest and has since been released. He is scheduled to appear at a special Guarulhos criminal court within the next few days.
American Airlines pilots are upset about the company's profit-sharing arrangements for 2018. And they're getting more upset by the day, it would appear.
Emboldened perhaps by their victory in getting considerable additional compensation in return for helping management deal with an urgent pilot shortage caused by a computer glitch in the lead-up to the Christmas holidays, American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) pilots are pushing hard to get management to reconsider what AA pilots argue is the company's paltry 2018 profit sharing payout — at least relative to other legacy United States-based airlines United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) and Delta Airlines (NYSE: DAL).
All three carriers recently announced internally their 2018 profit-sharing payout plans for eligible employees — though they have not been talking much about the details publicly.
But AA pilots have been increasingly vocal about the profit-sharing details for all three carriers, while pointing out how AA profit sharing for pilots badly trails that of the other two legacy airlines.
American said its 2018 profit sharing payout for line pilots will be 2 percent of eligible 2017 earnings. That's down from 3 percent a year ago — a cut of 33 percent that the carrier said is due mainly to lower profits in 2017 compared to 2016.
But with or without the percentage cut in profit sharing, AA pilots are getting far less than the 6.1 percent payout for United pilots and way way less than the 15 percent payout for Delta's line pilots. The 2018 profit sharing is based on an employee's eligible earnings in 2017.
In town hall meeting with AA employees late last month, AA CEO Doug Parkertold those present that they should not expect to see any adjustment in the profit sharing percentages until AA pilots' current contract becomes amendable in January of 2020.
But that has not stopped AA pilots from starting to push hard for an adjustment sooner than that.
Dan Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association that represents more than 15,000 AA pilots, said in a statement late last week to his rank-and-file members: "Expecting American Airlines' pilots to be compensated less than our peers until the next contract is unacceptable and not consistent with senior management's pledge to validate the trust."
"Validate the trust" is a phrase AA management has been using in recent times as an expression of their efforts to forge better relations with rank-and-file employees.
Profit sharing can be an attractive way for employees to considerably augment their annual earnings. One veteran United flight attendant shared details about the nice bump in total compensation he expects to get from profit sharing this year. United flight attendants' 2018 profit sharing is pegged at 4.8 percent of eligible 2017 earnings — less than UA pilots, but still more than double what AA pilots get.
Based on eligible earnings of more than $115,000 in 2017, the UA flight attendant said he expects to collect more than $5,500 in additional profit-sharing compensation.
American Airlines up in arms over mayor's O'Hare Airport expansion plan
Franco Tedeschi , head of AA operations at O'Hare Airport, told thousands of American Airlines employees today that the world's largest airline won't tolerate what the carrier said the City of Chicago has done behind the scenes.
American Airlines dropped a bombshell this morning that could imperil Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $8.5 billion plan to expand and modernize Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
It's a plan Emanuel and his Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans unveiled to one of the Chicago Tribune's political reporters on Sunday.
This morning, American, which has its third-largest hub at O'Hare, said — in no uncertain terms — it would not sign off on a new lease at O'Hare or on the massive O'Hare expansion Emanuel is proposing unless the city is prepared to rework the deal and make the gate distribution at the expanded airport more equitable than it would be as the proposal now stands.
American (NASDAQ: AAL) says the disparity in crucial gate allocations between American and archrival United Airlines would increase by more than 50 percent if the O'Hare expansion deal were approved in current form.
American further says that changes favoring United were put into the plan in the final hours before Emanuel and Evans went public with their proposal, giving American no chance to continue negotiations on a new lease at O'Hare and the expansion plan that had been going on for some 18 months.
American Airlines was blunt in its statement this morning: "The United deal would undermine competition, allowing the largest airline at O'Hare to expand its size advantage for years into the future. Thus the United gate deal creates a clear winner, United, and clear losers: namely, competition, Chicago travelers, and American Airlines."
In a separate memo to the more than 9,500 American employees at O'Hare that was obtained by the Chicago Business Journal, Franco Tedeschi, the regional vice president who heads up American's operations at O'Hare, wrote this morning: "You know that our (Chicago) hub is unique — it's the nation's only dual carrier hub. This competition between American and United is invaluable to Chicagoans. It translates into greater choice, more destinations, and lower fares. In order to maintain the dual hub, the airlines must be able to compete on a level playing field. ... We believe the United gate deal in the lease represents a bad deal for the people of Chicago and for American Airlines, and unless the gate gap is fixed, we cannot sign it (the lease)."
American further said it would sign off on a new lease deal and the expansion plan if the provision giving United favored gate allocation were not part of the deal.
Alternatively, American said it would be prepared to compromise if the city were willing to accelerate the construction of three additional gates at O'Hare and award those to American.
"To date the city has dismissed that approach without explanation," American said in its statement today.
Request for comment from the Chicago Department of Aviation did not immediately elicit a response.
United Airlines released the following statement late this morning: "We reached an agreement with the city for five additional gates in 2016. Furthermore this agreement is no different than the one reached by American Airlines and the City in early 2016 for five additional gates. American Airlines has been aware of our agreement for over a year and has worked to block the implementation at every opportunity."
While today's statement from United clearly points to the intense rivalry between UA and AA, the UA spokesman could not immediately address what the actual gate allocation for United and American would be when the O'Hare expansion project is finished years from now — the issue at the core of American's beef with the City of Chicago.
But it must be noted that United's president is Scott Kirby, who, until he moved over to United in 2016, had held the same position for years at American Airlines. Sources have repeatedly noted that one of Kirby's principal missions at United is to help orchestrate a competitive advantage for United over archrival American wherever possible.
Today's revelations about what looks to have been going on behind the scenes as Emanuel went about developing his grand scheme for O'Hare certainly appears to play into that prevailing theory.
United Airlines is a unit of United Continental Holdings (NYSE: UAL).
WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF AMERICAN AIRLINES
American Airlines gets earful from employees in groundbreaking project
American Airlines wanted honest feedback from its tens of thousands of employees. And, boy, did the world's largest airline get it.
In a groundbreaking project called "American Voice" launched last year, some 110,000 American employees in all departments were encouraged to anonymously submit candid comments on all aspects of the airline and its culture.
About 59,000 AA employees (53 percent) were eager to oblige.
The Chicago Business Journal got a look at some of the comments submitted by pilots, who, of course, have a lot of clout at American. Their responses — some quite raw — clearly indicate that American (NASDAQ: AAL) still has work to do to create a healthy culture in the wake of the carrier's merger with U.S. Airways in 2012.
Among the rawer comments provided by pilots for the American Voice project was the blunt remark "I feel betrayed by American Airlines." Another said "I work for the only airline who hates their pilots. Is that what you want?"
Female equality was addressed too: "Flight department needs to embrace and support the fact that women work here. Tired of the boy's club mentality."
And there was more about AA management's modus operandi in general: "AA's attitude towards their employees. They don't really seem to care. They preach the slogans and words, but then abuse us or treat us badly."
Any candid anonymous feedback from AA employees also might have been expected to touch on the hot topic of uniforms. And American Voice indeed elicited some: "UNIFORMS, UNIFORMS, UNIFORMS! Replace the Twin Hill uniforms in our workplace now! We cannot wait three years! Do the right thing and do it now! Please!"
That candid comment refers to Twin Hill uniforms believed to be tied to symptomatic reactions experienced by thousands of AA employees, including pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents and others. American announced in the summer of last year that it would not renew a contract with Twin Hill and would select another uniform vendor. Last month AA announced the new uniform vendor is Lands' End, but rollout of new uniforms isn't expected until 2020.
Meanwhile, AA said it plans to put the 250,000 comments in total it received from 59,000 employees to good use. The company is in the process of conducting listening sessions with employees in the wake of the submission of the anonymous comments. Those sessions are expected to be completed by the end of February, according to Patrick O'Keeffe, senior vice president of people at American Airlines.
Then, O'Keeffe and his team will crunch all the feedback and come up with suggested action that management can take to improve the AA culture.
"Some of it will be at the local level, some at the corporate level," O'Keeffe said in an interview today.
O'Keeffe also said American Voice wasn't intended as a one-off project. It will happen every year.
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American Airlines books $467 million pension contribution for 2018
By: Meaghan Kilroy
Published: February 21, 2018
American Airlines Group Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, expects to contribute $467 million to its pension plans in 2018, the company announced in its 10-K filed Wednesday.
Of the $467 million, $425 million is a discretionary contribution and $42 million is required. The company contributed $286 million to its pension plans in 2017.
As of Dec. 31, American Airlines had $11.4 billion in total defined benefit assets and $18.28 billion in benefit obligations for a funded status of 62.4%, up from 58.1% at the end of 2016. The 10-K did not provide a breakout of U.S. vs. international pension plans, but U.S. plan assets totaled $11.13 billion as of Sept. 30, according to Pensions & Investments data.
The discount rate used to calculate benefit obligations was 3.8% as of Dec. 31, down from 4.3% as of Dec. 31, 2016.
Also as of Dec. 31, the pension plans had an asset allocation of 63.3% equities, 23% fixed income, 13.1% alternatives, 0.4% dividend and interest receivable, and the remainder in cash and the net amount due to/from brokers for the sale of securities.
American Airlines indicated in the 10-K that temporary favorable funding rules expired at the end of 2017, and pension contributions are expected to "increase materially" starting in 2019 when fiscal year 2018 contributions are due.