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American Airlines may lay off 13,000

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 2/9/2012, 2:26 p.m.
Unions grapple with U.S. Airways-American Airlines merger

American Airlines could possibly lay off 13,000 of its employees as it enters bankruptcy protection, according to reports. The airline filed for bankruptcy in November of last year.

Negotiations with its three major unions will soon start as the nation's third-largest airline aims to cut its labor costs by 20 percent. Management positions are on the chopping block as well.

In a letter to employees, American Airlines CEO Thomas Horton said the company wants to cut a reported $2 billion per year and in return raise $1 billion in revenue.

"We are going to use the restructuring process to make the necessary changes to meet our challenges head-on and capitalize fully on the solid foundation we've put in place," Horton said.

Workers that could be laid off include bag handlers, skycaps and even flight attendants and pilots.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) said in a statement to passengers that the scenario is nothing new. "In 2003, to help prevent a bankruptcy filing by American Airlines, our pilots overwhelmingly approved billions of dollars in contract concessions that remain in effect today," the statement said. American Airlines employs 10,000 pilots.

"Along with financial reforms, American Airlines' restructuring must also include a commitment by those who manage our company to cultivate a better corporate culture-a culture that values the crucial competitive edge that a fully engaged workforce provides," APA said.

"Whatever the industry, the best companies all have at least one element in common: highly motivated, enthusiastic employees who deliver exceptional service day after day. We stand ready to help create that same winning culture at American Airlines."

Transport Workers Union (TWU) President James C. Little said that his union will do everything possible to protect its members, who include mechanics, fleet service workers, flight dispatchers and maintenance workers.

"I definitely was surprised, I was surprised at the depth of the cuts," Little reportedly said in an interview. "The trouble I have sleeping is, what happens to all the families we represent and the employees at American impacted by us? It also impacts the community, as well."

In New York, American Airlines has 3,555 employees at JFK airport and 3,006 at LaGuardia. TWU represents 1,000 employees at both airports. A third of the 1,841 members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants based out of JFK live in the New York metro area, while a third of its 1,287 members that are based out of LaGuardia live in the area as well.