It appears that American Airlines won’t be getting another route to China anytime soon thanks to the stalemate in negotiations between the pilots and American management.
American’s pilots have limits in their current contract that say flights cannot be more than 14 1/2 hours in length and a pilot cannot have more than 16 hours on duty in a row. The bid for flights from Dallas/Ft Worth to Beijing exceed those limits.
The pilots had made exemptions for previous routes, including Chicago/O’Hare to Delhi, mostly because new long haul widebody flying is good for the pilots as well as the airline. Of course, having more routes is something that everyone wants.
So this time around, the pilots decided to play hardball with American management and only agreed to waive the limit in this case if American would give in to their demands for things like having the duty day start earlier (when they check in) and other things that they described as “no-cost.”
Well, American management wasn’t about to give in, and instead, they announced today that they’ve modified their bid. The new bid will require a stop in Chicago/O’Hare on the way to China so that they can meet the requirements of the contract. The flight back to Dallas will be able to operate nonstop since tailwinds allow the flight time to sneak in under the limit.
I’d say that American’s bid before wasn’t the strongest one around, and this stop in Chicago should effectively kill their chances of winning. Their whole argument was that flights out of Dallas would give one-stop connectivity to Beijing from cities all over the South. Well, now that’s a two stop flight through Chicago, and a two stop flight is easily done today on a variety of airlines.
It appears that the pilots gambled that American’s management would cave here, but instead, they’ve just lost an opportunity to fly another long haul route. In a prepared response today, they didn’t have much to say at all. They just state that they support American’s bid to stop in Chicago now. Somehow, I think they realize they’ve shot themselves in the foot here.