Profits Skyrocket While Unions Brace for Strike
The first quarter of 2015 started off with a bang, as the airline industry posted record-shattering numbers and impressive profits. Major US airlines - American Airlines, United Continental Holdings, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Air Group, Southwest Airlines and Jetblue Airways - together reported earnings of over $3 billion.
Traditionally, the first quarter has been the weakest season in the industry, but due to crude oil prices plummeting by over 50% and a surplus in oil production, many airline executives are walking around with heavier pockets.
However, the record-breaking profits haven’t been trickling down evenly, with pilots preparing for a possible strike at Southwest and the chairman of Sun Country threatening to shut down the airline if concessions aren’t made.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) announced that they are staffing and funding for a possible strike, stating that a 3-year-long negotiation has not been successful.
"Despite astronomical profits and record-setting forecasts for the coming years, Southwest Airlines management has not come forward with an economic offer that can bring both sides to an agreement," said SWAPA’s President, Capt. Paul Jackson. "Our offer is very affordable and would not impact the company's competitive low-cost advantage. It is time for a deal."
In another pay dispute with the pilots union, the chairman of Sun Country Airlines is threatening to shut down the airline and ground its planes. According to a letter to the union, the company management has begun the process of downsizing and will eventually shut down, which the union labeled a “bargaining tactic”. According to Federal records, Sun Country Airlines has been profitable since 2009.
With historic numbers favoring the airlines, will the workers and travelers benefit from this?
Travelers have yet to see a decline in airfares and unions are fighting for fair wages. With a considerable amount of money being spent on renovations for elite fliers, which the average traveler will never see, the frustration shown by pilots and travelers are hardly surprising.