Allegiant Air Pilots Plan Strike For Thursday; Could Ground 250 Flights

Earlier today, we reported that the pilots of Nevada-based budget carrier Allegiant Air took their beef with the carrier to the public by posting an open letter to passengers voicing their concern about carrier’s stance on safety standards and treatment of employees. Now, the pilots say they’re prepared to go on strike Thursday, a move that has the potential to ground 250 flights.

Bloomberg reports that more than 500 pilots plan to walk off the job tomorrow because the airline has failed to comply with a court order to reverse a controversial scheduling system and restore other employee benefits.

Daniel Wells, president of the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224 says the strike will commence at 3 a.m. eastern time and could affect more than 33,000 daily customers to the airline.

The strike threat caps off two years worth of conflicts between the airline and Teamsters over issues regarding benefits and rules involving pilot seniority and schedules.

Pilots claim that a new scheduling system put in place by the airline forces employees to be away from home for extended periods, resulting in exhaustion. Previously, the union tells Bloomberg, a court found the system change was a violation of the law governing negotiations and ordered the airline to restore the prior system.

In a letter published earlier today on the website for the union representing Allegiant pilots, the Teamsters accused the airline of being more worried about its bottom-line than the well-being of employees and customers.

“The company’s profits are propped up by the extra workload placed on its understaffed, underpaid and overworked workforce and its minimalist approach to maintenance and safety,” reads the letter. “Allegiant represents the worst in an economy today where greedy CEOs disregard needed investments into a company’s workforce and infrastructure at the expense of passenger safety and for the benefit of Wall Street.”

The airline defended itself against the pilots’ safety warnings, saying that “Allegiant has one of the best safety records among passenger airlines in the world, and complies with all FAA regulations.”

Allegiant did not provide comment on the pending walk-out, but Bloomberg reports the company filed a lawsuit on Monday to prevent a strike, saying such a measure would be illegal because the two parties haven’t exhausted options for a resolution.

Still, Wells says the airline’s original action in changing the scheduling system activated a clause that makes the strike lawful.

“Restoring the status quo back to what it was prior to the beginning of negotiations is what we want,” Wells tells Bloomberg. “Once we get back to that place, we can talk all day long about the contract we need to get done.”

Allegiant Pilots’ Thursday Strike Plan Threatens 250 Flights [Bloomberg]