It appears that the informational picketing by NetJets pilots, who are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1108, is having the desired effect of putting pressure on company management to finally hammer out a new contract with the pilot workforce.
Taking a tough line before next week’s opening of contract negotiations with the air traffic controllers union, the FAA said yesterday that “fundamental changes are needed in the contract if the agency is to afford new systems and inspectors to improve safety and to modernize the ATC system to reduce delays and congestion.” Currently, labor costs account for 80 percent of the FAA’s operating budget, and agency officials are looking back at a 1
Pilots for the legacy carriers are still narrowly backing the FAA’s mandatory age 60 retirement rule for Part 121 airline pilots, but most pilots flying for the low-cost carriers advocate removing, or at least modifying, the rule.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) is placing the burden of the NTSB’s recommendations squarely on the FAA. “Controller schedules were imposed on the controller workforce last September with little to no input [from controllers], let alone negotiations,” said a Natca spokesman. He dismissed FAA statements that controller schedules are “negotiated” with the union and that schedule changes require approval from employees.
After more than two-and-a-half years of negotiations for a new contract, the union representing some 1,900 NetJets pilots is closer to resolving their differences with NetJets management. According to Dave Vermeulen, chairman of the pilot’s union master executive council, the two sides recently reached agreement over benefits and an improved system for handling pilot grievances, disciplinary actions and terminations.
An impasse in negotiations by unionized workers and the Dassault Falcon Jet Wilmington, Del. facility remained unresolved at press time, leaving some 100 workers on strike. Contract negotiations broke down between the company and United Auto Workers Local 1542 on March 8, but they were scheduled to reopen on March 23 (for the latest, see “As We Go To Press” on page 3).
Unilaterally imposed work rules and the FAA reauthorization process are among the issues Pat Forrey, new president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca), plans to address during his first year in office. Forrey took over the association’s reins in September after he defeated two-term incumbent John Carr.
The Transportation Security Administration began random security checks of airline and airport employees in Florida and Puerto Rico last month after authorities arrested two Comair employees for smuggling weapons and drugs aboard a Delta Air Lines flight from Orlando to San Juan.
The FAA revised its controller hiring plan early last month to adjust for greater retirement numbers and revisions to staffing requirements at each of the agency’s 314 staffed facilities. The plan provides a range of authorized controller staffing numbers, giving the agency greater flexibility to match the number of controllers with traffic volume and workload.
The four largest fractional operators–NetJets, Flight Options, Flexjet and CitationShares–hired 11 pilots in March, compared with none during the same month last year, according to figures compiled by AIR Inc. of Atlanta. The March figure brings to 56 the number of fractional pilots hired in the first quarter, versus 47 in the same period last year.