Robert Crandall responds to an American Airlines Pilot’s Letter

I’ve avoided writing about the recent American Airlines pilot slowdown because I don’t have anything to add to the subject that probably hasn’t been better expressed elsewhere. I have, though, followed the events with great interest and I came across an interesting post that I thought I’d share.

Terry Maxon writes about American, the aviation industry, and travel news for the Dallas Morning News Aviation Biz blog. Today he published a letter from an AA pilot asking former AMR CEO Robert Crandall to share his thoughts about the current state of labor relations. He also published Mr. Crandall’s response.

Some of what the pilot writes:

I’m interested in the future of AA. Most specifically, I’m left to wonder if it’s a future which includes me and my colleagues as assets or instead as nameless, faceless liabilities. Thus, I simply ask you the following:

1.) What long term, big picture solution do you see to the challenges which face AA and the Allied Pilots Association?

2.) How can American begin to address our network deficiencies?

And an excerpt from Mr. Crandall response:

The pilots, as you well know, recently voted down the Company’s LBFO (Last Best Final Offer). That proposal, if approved, would have awarded the pilots a generous piece of equity, would have allowed the pilot group a substantial voice in the governance of the new company and did not – so far as I know – impose conditions materially different from those in effect at other major airlines. Thus, I was and remain mystified as to why the pilots – having turned down an agreement materially better than the company’s original proposals, are now angry that alternative proposals are being implemented. Wasn’t that always the clear alternative to approval?

In recent days, the airline has not run well, and it seems clear that is true – in whole or in part – because pilots are expressing their unhappiness in various ways intended to reduce the systems reliability. Such actions (1) are disrespectful of other employees, customers and management, (2) are dismissive of the protocols of dispute resolution, (3) reject any notion of accepting responsibility for the decision to turn down the LBFO and (4) imply that the pilots believe their business judgments about what is and is not competitively sustainable are superior to those of management.

In my opinion, these actions are very ill advised. If the pilots want respect, they must be worthy of it.

You can go here to read both letters in their entirety.


  1. Couldn’t agree more with this. In order to stay in business and compete with other other big Mega Airlines out there now everyone is going to have to come online with new industry standards or find other employment. I love American Airlines but the way the pilots are acting is like they don’t care for the company, or the customers they fly.

  2. Not to side with big business TOO much here, but I think I have to agree on this front. It serves no one’s interest for the company to struggle. The customers lose in the end in terms of service which in turn ultimately hurts AA (people hoping to another program).

    Along that same front the executives at American shouldn’t reward themselves with millions in bonuses either which I assume will happen when they successfully navigate the bAAnkrupcy (just before they devalue the AAdvantage program).

  3. They should all be fired, and a new contract should be written up, without allowing for any pilots to be hired that are part of any union.

  4. Having been an AA pilot scheduler since 1982, I have scheduled pilots of several generations. In the past , cooler heads , more intelligent pilots have realized they don’t want a 9-5 desk job.

    We are now in the “entitlement generation” and once they run this airline into the ground God help us all. If they can even find a job, I hope they’ll let us know how that’s working out for them.

  5. I fly every week on American Airlines out of Austin to various places around the country. Over the last 3 weeks, every flight but one was delayed or canceled. It is very clear what is happening.
    While I want to be safe and have a great pilot in place, it is very clear that the pilots are not thinking of what is best for their fellow employees, customers and the long term success of AA. Very selfish approach.
    I am loosing respect for the pilots and not American Airlines at this point.
    The past mistakes of the Airlines should not alter its future.
    The pilots are limited the future ability of AA to survive and thrive.
    Give it up and grow up.

  6. Amazing that a group of what you would consider educated, Commercial Airline Pilots, could be so stupid and hell bent on industrial suicide; because that is the path they are on. Work slow downs, sick outs, and other childish shenanigans, is about to destroy yet another classic flag carrier. No one will feel sorry for you when your 80 hour a month six figure job is gone!

  7. Clearly, this matter wasn’t discussed further for other reasons. This blog is just a big, sloppy •••••• for AA. The author probably never flies, just gets paid a few hundred bucks a week to re-print whatever AA sends. It’s not a lot of money, but enough to pay for utilities at his parents’ house.

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