SUX only airline hits a little turbulence; bankruptcy judge rules in favor of pilots union
By Sarah Te Slaa, Multimedia Producer/ Anchor - email
DALLAS (AP) -
It's Sioux Gateway Airport's only airline, American. The carrier has been flying in and out of the Sioux City airport for four months now, but the company, as a whole, has hit a little turbulence.
Now, a bankruptcy judge ruled in favor of a pilots union, saying American Airlines' plan to outsource flights and furlough workers went too far. The union is reacting with cautious optimism while the airline remains confident that this ruling was little more than a road bump.
For American's pilots, the news was not just unprecedented, it really was unexpected.
"This is a huge victory for the pilot group," says Scott Shankland with the Allied Pilots Association. "We are truly in uncharted territory."
"There's not an airline pilot group that has seen this kind of victory in a courtroom, ever," says Tom Hoban, also with the Allied Pilots Association.
Last week, pilots rejected American's final contract offer, leaving their future up to a New York bankruptcy judge.
Then, late Wednesday, that judge did the unexpected and ruled against American, refusing to let the airline cancel the contract for 10,000 or so pilots. The reasons he gave were specific.
The judge said 'no' to American's plan for unlimited "code sharing" or outsourcing flying to other airlines, and he said no to furloughing an unlimited number of pilots.
Still, this ruling is only a limited victory for pilots.
"We hope they understand what this ruling says and what it doesn't say, and don't anticipate that this means, 'Oh! There's another bite at the apple,' because that is not what this says at all," says Bruce Hicks, a spokesman for American Airlines.
The airlines plans to take the issue back to court in hopes of getting what they want.
"That's right," says Hicks. "This is just one small step in the process. This is not a setback or anything like that."
It may not be a setback for American, but it is a victory for the pilots union, though it's uncertain how long it will be able to enjoy it.
No word yet on how the ruling will affect American's flights through American Eagle in and out of Sioux Gateway Airport, if at all.
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