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FAA seeks a ceasefire in conflict between Southwest and Key Union





  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A senior federal governor tells Southwest Airlines and its mechanics union that their bitter struggle could harm the airline's security program.


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DALLAS >> The US Civil Aviation Authority today warns Southwest Airlines and its mechanics association that their bitter struggle could harm the airline's security program.

FAA's Chief Security Officer sent a tough letter to the airline and the association said that a breakdown in their relationship is a cause for concern. He urged both parties to cooperate in accordance with FAA security standards.

But the dispute seemed to escalate today. The head of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said his union filed a lawsuit against Southwest and the airline chief operator.

It was the Union's response to the Southwest, which sued AMFA last week in the federal district court in Dallas over what it claims to be an illegal work decline aimed at pushing southwest during bitter contract negotiations.

Southwest instructs mechanics to write up minor maintenance records, leading to an increase in the number of aircraft taken out of service for repairs. It is said that revaluations include missing seat row numbers and other cosmetic defects.

The airline has canceled flights every day because the number of grounded aircraft has jumped from the usual 14 per day to as many as 62 a day in February, according to Southwest's lawsuit.

This week, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the airline lost "millions of dollars" a week due to the canceled aircraft.

Union officials charge the southern press mechanics to overlook security issues in the leaders & # 39; eagerness to keep flying.

Southwest and the association for its 2,400 mechanics have negotiated a new contract for more than six years.

The association's national director, Bret Oestreich, said that the Union will not fight in court, it will only have a new contract. He also urged his members to "continue to keep southern passengers and crew safe" despite "trial times".

FAA's Assistant Aviation Security Administrator, Ali Bahrami, said in his letter today that a breakdown in the relationship between the southwest and the Union "raises concerns about the ongoing efficiency of the airline's security management system."

Despite the trial, he continued, he urged both parties to work together to meet FAA security standards. The letter did not claim any security breaches or investigations.

Bahrami's letter was addressed to Oestreich and Southwest's chief, Mike Van de Ven. It was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Within the government and the business community, the security issues of the letters were unusual. Robert Mann, a prolonged airline carrier and consultant, said he could not remember a similar FAA warning in a work dispute.

"Good for them to solve the problem," he said. "Security must be decisive and replace everything."

Southwestern spokesman Chris Mainz said, however, that it is not uncommon for the FAA to emphasize security "at such times on a carrier."

"As always, we appreciate the FAA's partnership and maintain our committed focus on ensuring the highest level of compliance and security," he said.

The union refused to comment on the letter.

The FAA had already said that it increased the supervision of the southwest, as a spokesman for an agency said the time was standard in times of workload tension.


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