United Pilots Ask Court to Delay Company's Merger Integration Procedures Over Safety Concerns

Sep 26, 2011, 14:44 ET from United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association

NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association today filed for injunctive relief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn to postpone United Airlines' implementation of the latest phase of revised operating procedures associated with the merger between United and Continental Airlines.

Saying they are concerned that the current level and timeline of training associated with the Company's bid for a Single Operating Certificate (SOC) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is inadequate, the pilots asked the federal court to issue a stay on the September 30 deadline for pilots to complete the second phase of training and begin new procedures to allow ALPA and United management to either reach a mutually accepted resolution on the training requirements or to resolve the dispute through arbitration prior to implementation of the new procedures scheduled to occur on September 30.

"The safe transport of our passengers has always been the top priority for the pilots of United Airlines. The Air Line Pilots Association was founded on safety, we have set the standard for aviation safety throughout the years, and we are committed to maintaining that record at the new United Airlines," said Captain Wendy Morse, Chairman of the United MEC. "To maintain that level of safety, all our pilots must be properly trained prior to any implementation of new procedures."

"The Company is implementing unrealistic deadlines and requiring only distance computer based training that we believe is inadequate to maintain the level of safety our passengers expect from United and its pilots," Morse added. "For these reasons, we are asking the court to issue a stay on the September 30 deadline so we can work with the Company to come up with a realistic, practical schedule and workable procedures for training or enable the arbitration board to decide the issues while it still has jurisdiction to grant meaningful relief -- before management proceeds unilaterally.

"Ensuring the safe transport of our passengers should be of greater concern to United management than prematurely acquiring a Single Operating Certificate from the FAA that does little until an Integrated Seniority List is achieved. As pilots, we will do everything in our power to ensure that safety at United Airlines is not compromised for the sake of expediency."

Through the years, ALPA has been an integral part of the safety culture at United Airlines, integrally working alongside management to develop and implement safety rules and procedures. Since the announced merger and the installation of new management, ALPA's voice in the safety arena has been minimized, at the risk of reducing the safety level for which United Airlines is known.

"Who has a bigger stake in aviation safety than the pilots who fly the airplanes and the passengers who trust us each time they board our flights," asked Captain Morse. "The Company is taking unnecessary chances with our passengers' safety by not allowing its pilots to have an active role in the planning and implementation of training and development of procedures. We stand ready to work hand-in-hand with United management in developing training and ensuring that United remains among the safest airlines in the world.  Failing agreement, we stand ready to arbitrate our dispute prior to implementation of procedures."

SOURCE United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association