Dallas, Texas: Southwest Airlines sued the union representing its mechanics, accusing workers of making frivolous write-ups recently resulting in up to 100 flight cancellations a day.
The carrier said mechanics have been unnecessarily slowing down operations over recent weeks by taking planes out of service with write-ups for minor issues that do not impact their ability to fly.
Mechanics pulled up to 62 planes from service in one day over the last month, according to the lawsuit. The airline said this is above the average of 14 planes out of service a day. It can operate on a normal schedule with 35 planes grounded out of a fleet of 752.
Since mid-February alone, the maintenance write-ups have resulted in up to 100 flight cancellations a day, the airline said.
The union has denied these allegations.
“All of the out of service aircraft were written up for legitimate problems,” the union told CBS News last week.
The airline declared an “operational emergency” last month due to the large number of planes grounded for maintenance issues and threatened employees with termination if they didn’t comply with company protocol such as bringing in a doctor’s note to work after calling in sick, CNBC reported.
The emergency followed a CBS News report 11 days earlier that mechanics felt pressured to overlook safety problems and aircraft damage.
“The CBS report exposed a problem so severe that two United States Senators have called for a congressional investigation. Moreover, The FAA has condemned the carrier’s “capitulation of airworthiness,” the Aircraft Mechanic Fraternal Association union’s attorney, Nick Granath, said in a letter to Mark Shaw, executive vice president, chief legal and regulatory office, Southwest Airlines.
“Yet, it appears that, once again, management has chosen to increase its coercive efforts against its own Aircraft Maintenance Technicians – whose job it is to ensure safe flights – this time with increased threats of litigation and job termination,” Granath added.