Airlines Cash In as Flexible Work Changes Travel Patterns Reach a Record High in 2013
Airline revenues at US carriers rose 11.9 percent last year, a record high. Passenger traffic increased 6.6 percent from 2012, according to the US Department of Transportation.
To create more work to fill seats, carriers cut the average workweek to 39 hours in 2013, down from 45 hours in 2012.
“We expect more flexible work arrangements to continue over the long term, particularly in the labor market. Airlines are offering an average of $2,400 more in pay and benefits to workers than they did last year, and are on course to offer more in the next few years,” said Daniel L. Kessler, CEO of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents about 60,000 US flight attendants.
“We’re seeing a trend that is a positive one for the industry. Airlines are starting to recognize the need for more flexible work arrangements and are taking immediate steps to address the concerns of workers in these areas,” Kessler said. “For example, the average cost per hour of an employee on a non-stop flight has dropped from $2.29 in 2013 to $2.15 in 2014, and by the end of 2014, that average will more than double to $3.59 per hour.”
The airline industry has been plagued by a number of high-profile labor disputes, including the recent dispute between the Teamsters and Trans World Airlines and the recent “No Fly” agreement between United Airlines and the Teamsters.
The Teamsters’ contract expired on December 14, 2013. The parties have not yet made a decision on whether to renew the 12-year-old agreement and the negotiations are moving along more slowly than those for other recent union contracts, according to Kessler.
The “No Fly” agreement, in which union members of United Airlines and its subsidiaries no longer have a “no fly” clause in their employment contracts,