Not Much Spirit As It Turns Out

by Daniel Russ on June 13, 2010

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines pilots went on strike at 5:01 a.m., Saturday, June 12, forcing the Florida-based low-cost carrier to cancel all of its flights for the day.The airline did not immediately disclose its plans for Sunday or the rest of the week, should the strike last that long. It also did not immediately say what, if anything, it would be doing to help customers trying to get back home.

For affected customers, Spirit processed a credit for the full amount of their flight purchase (valid for one year from the original booking date), plus a $100 credit for another flight. But customers also can ask for a full refund by calling the airline.

The airline also is telling customers who made their reservations prior to May 11 directly with Spirit and purchased travel insurance that they should call Travel Guard at 866-877-3191 if their flight has been cancelled.

The Spirit unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) called the strike after federally mediated efforts failed to break the impasse before the end of a 30-day cooling off period, after which the pilots had the legal authority to begin job actions. Spirit and its pilots have been trying to negotiate terms for a new contract for more than three years.

Spirit expressed disappointment and frustration in the failure to reach an agreement, and says it offered pilots 30 percent pay increases amounting to $70 million over five years.

The pilots also would have retained a four-day break between trips and received a $3,000 signing bonus. The offer also included an 8 percent 401(k) match in years one through three with an increase to 9 percent in year four. All other Spirit employees receive a 3 percent match, Spirit says.

The union, however, says the offer still fell short. The pilots have been seeking compensation in line with U.S. low-cost airline peers such as AirTran and JetBlue, and say Spirit still is not making an offer that “adequately compensates our professional members.”

“All Spirit pilots, especially first officers, have been working at below-market rates for years, and under substandard work rules,” the union said after the strike commenced.

The union insisted it did try to agree on a “middle ground,” but was “forced to use the last weapon in their arsenal and call for a lawful strike.”

“We are sacrificing our paychecks until we get a contract that reflects our contributions to this airline,” said Sean Creed, head of the Spirit unit of ALPA.

Source: Aviation Week, blogrolled here



Source: Aviati

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