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Airline Division News, Week Ending December 6, 2014

CAPA Appoints Niles As Vice President

In a meeting this week in Washington, DC, the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) announced the appointment of Captain Mark Niles to the position of Vice President. The appointment is effective December 12th, 2014.

Niles comes to CAPA while also serving as Vice President of Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224 (APA Local 1224), where he was recently reelected to a second three-year term. Local 1224 represents more than 3,500 professional pilots and flight engineers. Prior to that, he served as the ExCo Chairman at Horizon.

In addition to more than a decade of experience in union leadership positions, having previously served on the Executive Council, Professional Standards and Negotiating committees throughout his twelve years at Horizon Airlines, Captain Niles currently serves as a Steering Committee member, and has been instrumental in the evaluation of compliance initiatives associated with the implementation of FAR 117. The scope of his role has included an extensive review of FAR 117, identifying operational procedures that do not comply with the legislation, and developing recommendations for revisions that will bring existing policies and procedures into compliance with it.

Upon being appraised of the appointment, Airline Division Director Captain David P. Bourne said, “I congratulate both Mark on his appointment and CAPA on their choice. Mark is a dedicated trade unionist and an outstanding person. His experience and complete focus on the needs of his membership make him an excellent choice.”  

NetJet Pilots File Suit Against Company, Says Confidential Website Was Hacked

In a lawsuit filed this past Tuesday, the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots has sued the company over a violation of the Stored Communications Act and the RLA.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, accused NetJets of illegally infiltrating a password-protected, confidential message board, impersonating a pilot on Twitter, and baiting pilots to conduct work slowdowns, even as the company threatened to fire pilots who did.

NetJets is also accused of publishing photos of pilots engaged in lawful picketing.

“I would say that we don’t have a labor problem at NetJets,” Pedro Leroux, a pilot and president of the NetJets labor union, NJASAP, told Page Six. “We have a management problem. They’re the ones who are creating this environment. They chose to open up the contract and seek concessions at the time that they are profitable. The pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, dispatchers, stock clerks - they’re telling us we need to take pay cuts.”

NetJets employs more than 600 workers represented by the Teamsters. The Columbus, Ohio-based business jet operator is owned by Warren Buffett's holding company and provides business and leisure travel to the global super-rich.

“The middle class families I represent will not agree to compensation or benefit cuts so a Wall Street banker or CEO, let alone their pets, can fly cheaper on a private Gulfstream jet,” said Paul Suffoletto, President of Teamsters Local 284 in Columbus, Ohio. “I love dogs, but millionaires and billionaires who can afford to fly their unaccompanied pets on luxury private jets don’t need a subsidy from working families who have real-life concerns, like paying for housing, buying groceries, and saving for their retirement and kids’ education.”

Teamsters Local 284 represents flight attendants, aircraft mechanics, maintenance controllers, aircraft cleaners, aircraft fuelers, stock clerks and flight dispatchers employed by NetJets.

Contract negotiations between the union and Buffett’s company have stalled because of management’s demands that workers accept compensation cuts and pay more for their health insurance. Meanwhile, the company is boasting of increasing revenues, record profits and foreign expansion in China.

NetJets’ own website states that a “core negotiation requirement” is “to pass as much of the savings [from employee concessions] as practicable to Owners and potential Owners…” NetJets refers to its wealthy customers as “owners.”

In an interview posted at www.superyachts.com, a NetJets Vice President Cory Valentine said, “I have many customers that fly with us only because of their dogs. Once there was a dog flying by itself, with no humans, and they needed a piece of grass for the dog on the aircraft to go to the restroom while it was on the aircraft.”

For the past four years, NetJets has refused to grant pay increases or issue profit sharing checks to professional flight dispatchers who are responsible for critical functions related to the safety of flight. At the same time, managers are taking profit sharing checks for themselves and shifting health care insurance costs to the dispatchers and their family members.

“Even in this era of inequality and unrestrained corporate power, NetJets’ behavior is corporate greed and arrogance on a scale rarely seen,” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division. “We are going to resist this attempt to transfer money from the paychecks of our members to the wealthiest people on the planet, no matter what it takes.”

Airline Industry News

Governmental and Regulatory

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed an airworthiness directive that would require updates to proximity sensors on the wings of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The U.S. Department of Energy has given Vertimass a $2 million grant to aid in the development of sustainable jet fuel.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to issue rules by the end of the year that will govern the operation of unmanned aircraft and outline the qualifications needed for operator certification.

Airlines, Industry and Labor

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants and American Airlines disagree on three items that the arbiters will have to decide, according to a joint stipulation submitted Wednesday to the arbitration board.

Demand for global air cargo rose 5.4% in October on a year-over-year basis, according to the International Air Transport Association. "World trade is growing steadily, supporting increased air cargo shipments," said Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO.

United Airlines is moving with plans to shift its flight attendant base to San Francisco from Seattle, in line with the carriers' announcement in October. "We are focusing on our strengths," said Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for United. "It made sense to move those flight-attendant positions."