If you’ve had a ticket to fly Allegiant Air in the past several weeks or so, you were probably a bit worried you may not get to your destination. Just last week a judge was moving quickly to hand down a ruling on whether or not pilots could simply walk off the job. While that didn’t happen, the discount airline may still be a risky party to depend on for your future traveling plans at the moment.
The Case for Walking Off
The dispute itself is really nothing new. Pilots working for Allegiant Air have demanded that their scheduling go back to the way it was done prior to a new system being implemented. While other issues are at stake with the strike, this is by far and away the biggest one being pushed by the pilots’ union.
This new system, implemented last fall, erased the priority put on pilot seniority, at least this is the contention of those who testified against Allegiant at a hearing a couple weeks back.
According to the five pilots who spoke up, this new method gives pilots less control over when they fly. However, they also said that this new system broke the work rules that Judge Gordon—who is also overseeing this case—put into place last year. That move on the part of Allegiant is why the pilots believe they have the right to go on strike.
The New System
For Allegiant’s part, evidence was presented that shows other factors are now taken into consideration with their new system. Pilots are given the ability to assign a priority level to their scheduling requests, for example. Regulatory rules regarding how much rest a pilot must take during a given time frame are also taken into consideration. Although the pilots have argued their seniority should be the most important factor reviewed, the current system is programmed to provide resolution other ways.
According to witnesses, when parties first met back on the April 16th, exchanges became heated. On more than one occasion, Gordon admonished those present to stick to the current injunction and not bring in matters from last year or things that were otherwise irrelevant. He also kept both sides there until after 6pm.
An Olive Branch Withers
Just a week later, Maurice “Maury” Gallagher, head of Allegiant Air, gave his pilots a raise, which was seen by many as an attempt to smooth over ill-will. In a statement, Gallagher said his company had experienced a real windfall and he simply wanted to share it. One of the union bosses responded that this was no magnanimous gesture. Pilots argued they were due a raise anyway, further reducing its significance (instead of a 5% raise, the pilots were given 7%).
Although Allegiant is still free to fly at the moment, it will be interesting to see where this case goes. Many of the 530 pilots involved in the dispute have even said that their employer cuts corners where safety is involved. However this ends, don’t expect it to be pretty.