The Charlotte-based union that represents US Airways pilots has filed a legal motion seeking to pre-empt any challenge to the carriers upcoming merger with American Airlines by pilots unhappy with a combined seniority list.
The U.S. Airline Pilots Association filed the motion in federal bankruptcy court in New York, where American Airlines Chapter 11 bankruptcy case is being heard, on Wednesday.
The dispute is now in its eighth year, stemming from the merger between US Airways and America West. Pilots from the two companies never reached an agreement on how to integrate seniority lists which determine pilots pay and what routes they fly leading to years of bitter legal wrangling.
US Airways and American announced their intention to merge last month. But in Wednesdays court filing, the US Airways pilots union said a group of former America West pilots have said they will sue to block the merger if their seniority list isnt used.
The group of former America West pilots is known as Leonidas, after the Spartan general who stood against an army of Persians.
We would like nothing better than to avoid court altogether but the (America) West Pilot Class, as represented by our legal firm, will use all means at its disposal to defend our seniority rights, the Leonidas group wrote in a late February update on its website.
USAPA is seeking an injunction to prevent Leonidas from filing any actions to interfere with the merger.
There is no question that the action itself would distract parties in interest, such as USAPA, US Airways and (American), from the important negotiations and tasks attendant to the Merger, would disrupt the orderly integration of the pilot work force, USAPA said in its filing.
While US Airways CEO Doug Parker won support for the merger in large part by persuading American Airlines major unions to back his plan, labor unrest could still be a potential roadblock in the combination.
US Airways and America West pilots never negotiated a combined seniority list, and never reached a combined contract with the company. The groups, known as the East and West pilots, still fly separately, with different pay rates and work rules.
The $11 billion merged company would be called American Airlines and based in Americans current headquarters city of Fort Worth, Texas. The new company would be the largest airline in the U.S., and would have combined revenue of almost $40 billion.