American Airlines Tells Pilots To Please Stop It With The Sick-Outs Already

Like the mom who catches you putting the thermometer against a hot light bulb, the powers that be at beleaguered commercial carrier American Airlines say they are not fooled by the recent rash of pilots calling in “sick” and want them to put and end to the disruption before this mess ends up in court.

The union representing the American pilots denies that there have been any sick-outs or deliberate slowdowns by pilots upset about how they are being treated while American works to climb out of bankruptcy. Regardless, the Associated Press reports that a senior exec at the airline has asked union officials to denounce any such “work actions” to the union members.

The American exec called the recent increase in pilots staying home sick, “an unlawful, concerted effort to damage the company” that has resulted in an increase in delayed and canceled flights.

If the union does not work to cut down these disruptions, the airline says it will take legal action.

The union says the uptick in delays and cancellations aren’t coming out of some concerted effort to upset the airline, but are merely the result of a pilot shortage and the fact that those pilots have to fly old planes that need repairs.

“Within 24 hours of being asked to return to the bargaining table they essentially take a baseball bat to the side of our heads and threaten legal action,” a union rep tells the AP. “It’s a sucker punch.”

Cancellations on American have been five times higher this September than they were a year earlier, while the airline’s on-time record has dropped below 50% at points during the recent weeks. Meanwhile, the number of pilots calling in sick has increased by 20% over the same month in 2011, and delays caused by pilots requesting precautionary maintenance has doubled, according to the airline.