Furloughed ALA Pilots Return to Service
For Alaska Airlines’ pilots,
this week marked the end of a period during which 106 of their colleagues were
furloughed. The final five involuntarily furloughed Alaska pilots returned to
active service Tuesday after spending nearly three years on furlough. The number
would have been six, but one pilot who would have returned with this class
elected to resign.
“I couldn’t have been happier to welcome back our furloughed pilots than I
was this week,” said Alaska MEC chairman F/O Paul Stuart. “As a pilot group, we
will not forget the challenges that our furloughed pilots faced. Nor will we
forget the way in which this pilot group came together to help one another.”
When Alaska announced plans to furlough pilots, the Alaska MEC and
Negotiating Committee worked to negotiate programs to mitigate furloughs. Those
efforts produced programs that allowed active pilots to commit to flying reduced
schedules and reduced the overall number of furloughs as a result. The pilot
group voted to assess itself to cover the costs of health insurance premiums for
furloughed pilots. Over the past three years, that assessment paid $585,000 in
health-care premiums; the money remaining in that fund will undergo an
independent audit and will be paid back to the pilots who contributed to it.
During the holidays, individual pilots stepped up again to
create and run the Furloughed Pilots Christmas Fund, which distributed money to
furloughed pilots and their families in December 2009 and December 2010. This
year, there will be no need to create such a fund.
In December, Alaska Airlines will welcome its first class of new hires since
January 2008. And throughout next year, pilots who were furloughed but who
elected to bypass recall to complete employment contracts will return.