May 4, 2020
The month of April was a whirlwind of changes for our nation. We now have positive cases of the COVID-19 amongst our membership and many remain in self-quarantine to help to prevent the spread of this virus. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have contracted and who have been affected by COVID-19.
AMFA representatives have been in regular communication and taking guidance from the CDC to ensure we are taking effective steps to combat the significant challenges posed by this pandemic. We have been actively involved to ensure all three airlines adhere to workplace cleaning protocol, and we continue to urge you to utilize PPE, practice social distancing, and remember safety is always the priority. Please follow the CDC recommendations and guidelines. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact your Local Safety and Standards Chairman.
Despite the challenging time, our members are the most unified we have ever been as mechanics and related aviation professionals. We thank you for your perseverance and dedication in performing your duties and producing a safe, reliable aircraft.
We are proud to say AMFA contributed to the outcome of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As we previous reported, both Alaska Air Group and Southwest Airlines have accepted the billions of dollars in grants from the U.S. Treasury Department (CARES Act), which provide financial assistance for the exclusive use of employee wages, salaries, and benefits and restricts the carriers from conducting furloughs, reducing pay rates, reducing weekly hours, buy back stock options or pay dividends to shareholders until September 30, 2020. We encourage members to monitor the secure Legislative Updates page of the AMFA National website for more details.
Alaska Airlines significantly reduced the number of flights per day and 153 aircraft are placed in short-term storage across the system, which leaves approximately 81 flying aircraft; however, our AMFA-Alaska aircraft technicians’ workload has not been reduced due to the demand of performing 7, 14, and 28 day storage task cards at all locations. Please monitor the Alaska Airlines News and Updates page of the AMFA National website for further details.
Horizon Air has also significantly reduced the number of flights per day; however, the workload has increased as storage task cards for 7, 14 and 28 day checks are being performed, thus requiring maintenance inspections, taxiing, and unique brake inspections. The current fleet of E175’s are actively flying approx. 27 aircraft, Q400’s are actively flying 24 aircraft, and 17 aircraft are placed in short-term storage in Portland, OR. Please monitor the Horizon Air News and Updates page of the AMFA National website for the most up-to-date information for your group.
Southwest Airlines Tech-Ops has also significantly reduced the number of flights per day, and the process of completing storage task cards continues. Prior to COVID-19 SWA had approx. 755 active aircraft, and currently, approx. 450 aircraft are in short-term parking, long-term storage, or long-term retirement.
Southwest Airlines continues to adamantly pursue the two Federal lawsuits against AMFA. On Monday, April 27, 2020, a Court order was released that dismissed the remaining claims against all of the individual defendants in Southwest Airlines’ lawsuits. This lawsuit is still ongoing because SWA has not dismissed its last two remaining claims for money damages, which are against AMFA National and AMFA Local 11. While Southwest and other airlines are accepting massive government economic bailouts, Southwest continues paying lawyers to maintain lawsuits against their own employees. “We find ourselves in the greatest challenge of our generation… we are all in this fight together,” stated by Gary Kelly. AMFA agrees — this is the greatest challenge of our generation, nevertheless, Southwest must drop the lawsuits against its own employees immediately so we can, as Gary Kelly called for, truly be in this fight together. We will continue updating you via the secure Legal Updates (Members Only) page of the National website as developments unfold.
On April 15, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded to yet another Southwest Airlines mechanic whistleblower action with the agency’s determination that:
“a violation of an order, regulation, or standard of the FAA related to air carrier safety occurred. Accordingly, the FAA is taking appropriate corrective and/or enforcement action. Our office will monitor these actions until complete.”
This most recent confirmation of safety lapses at Southwest follows a long line of AIR21 whistleblower cases – over twenty in the last few years – that have confirmed non-compliance with federal aviation standards at SWA maintenance stations located in Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. In the recent safety audit on February 11, 2020, by the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sharply criticizing the FAA for its failure to effectively oversee Southwest operations. The OIG’s report confirms what we all know: that the above-referenced FAA’s findings are just the tip of the iceberg. Southwest has the fewest mechanics per aircraft of any major airline, so your job is particularly tough. We salute your efforts in the certain knowledge that it is you, not Southwest management, that keep our passengers safe.
Please monitor the Southwest Airlines News and Updates page of the AMFA National website for the most up-to-date information for your group.
Reminder to All Members: The FAA Hotline reporting system may be utilized to report concerns of aviation safety: https://hotline.faa.gov. We must realize our grave responsibility as FAA certified airman to exercise our judgement on the airworthiness of aircraft and equipment. We, therefore, pledge unyielding adherence to these precepts for the advancement of public safety of aviation and for the dignity for our craft.
As always, I ask you please be safe and to stay engaged with your union and officers. For more carrier specific updates and further information regarding AMFA and the airline industry, please visit the AMFA National Website at www.amfanational.org. Our most determined efforts will only succeed with your continued support and participation – please stay informed.