MIRAMAR, FL (September 4, 2008) – Spirit Airlines today acknowledged that the Air Line Pilots Association, the labor union that represents the Airline’s pilots, had filed a lawsuit against the airline seeking to require the Airline to reverse certain work rule adjustments and other changes implemented by the company over the past two months. Those initiatives were developed in response to unprecedented economic and airline industry conditions and undertaken to allow Spirit to remain competitive, continue to offer low airfares to its customers and continue to provide well-paid, secure airline jobs to its outstanding employees.
“The work rule adjustments were among dozens of cost-savings initiatives implemented at Spirit in response to unprecedented oil prices and a slowing US economy,” said Ben Baldanza, the company’s president and CEO. “Each of the changes is permitted under the existing collective bargaining agreement. We understand that some of our pilots are unhappy about the changes but, in our view, the work rule adjustments are critically necessary in these challenging times for the well being of the company and our employees. Each issue is being negotiated in already-scheduled arbitrations or in our ongoing collective bargaining under supervision of a Federal mediator.
“As everyone knows, the economics of our industry have changed dramatically as the result of a doubling in fuel prices over the past year and the recession in the United States,” added Baldanza. “Our decision to discontinue certain less-efficient practices within the bounds of our existing agreement is just one part of a company-wide range of initiatives aimed at improving revenues and reducing costs. These changes help to ensure the company’s continued ability to compete, grow and protect our employees’ jobs.”
The ALPA lawsuit was initiated at a time when airline fuel prices are up 93 percent in the past year and have tripled in the last 24 months. Meanwhile, six US airlines have gone out of business, another is operating in bankruptcy, and all remaining US carriers have announced dramatic reductions in flying schedules and layoffs totaling more than 30,000 employees. Spirit itself has announced that it would reduce its schedule in the second half of 2008 by prematurely returning aircraft in its fleet and terminating or furloughing more than 250 employees, including 115 of the company’s pilots.
Baldanza stated, “The negative effect of current market conditions on the airline industry is unprecedented. Spirit certainly is not singling out its pilots, who do an outstanding job every day and have helped the company reduce fuel consumption and other costs. We believe that the airlines that step up to these tough choices will protect the most jobs and have the best chance at securing a stable future for their employees.”