FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2021
Contact: Denise Romano, firstname.lastname@example.org
TWU to FAA: Airline Staffing Levels Are Dangerously Low
WASHINGTON, DC – The Transportation Workers of America (TWU) sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) Steve Dickinson calling to his attention the dangerously low staffing levels at most U.S. airlines.
“Overworked, fatigued workers are being pushed to maintain safety and security standards without the necessary number of personnel. This crisis is adversely affecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of airline workers, risking the safety of our aviation system, and undermining the long-term health of the entire system,” wrote TWU International President John Samuelsen.
The TWU represents ramp workers, fleet service agents, mechanics, flight attendants, aircraft fuelers, material specialists, gate agents, dispatchers, and pilot instructors at 17 airlines. We are seeing thousands of examples of nightmarish conditions across the country, including:
- Southwest Airlines flight attendants and ramp workers have been threatened with termination if they declined overtime for any reason other than sickness with a doctor’s note.
- A JetBlue Airways and Allegiant Air flight attendants are serving duty days of almost 24 hours straight.
- Dispatchers at Republic Airways have been assigned mandatory overtime during all of their scheduled days.
In order to quickly resolve these issues, the TWU is asking the FAA to consider:
- How long do airlines need to re-certify, train, and/or hire enough workers to return to normal operations? Do airlines have an acceptable plan to reach staffing levels necessary to safely operate the schedules they have filed to fly?
- Do the current staffing levels comport with the airlines’ Safety Management Systems (SMS)?
- Have any airlines revised or made emergency alterations to their SMS in response to the current understaffing? What processes are in place to ensure that, when staffing levels fall below minimums assumed in these SMS, these plans are updated or operations are adjusted to ensure each carrier can meet its safety obligations?
- What effect are airlines’ constant use of “emergency powers” to overwork their employees having on the safe operation of these carriers? What effect will the current staffing levels have on the air system over the next six months and beyond?
- What data has the FAA collected on the effect airline staffing has on meeting safety standards? What triggers are in place at the FAA to initiate safety reviews, audits, or other actions when airlines fail to adequately staff their operations?
Click here to read a full copy of the letter.
The TWU represents more than 150,000 workers across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities and service sectors