Last updated: 08:20 AM ET, Thu April 02 2015

Federal Judge Blocks Allegiant Pilots’ Strike

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | April 02, 2015

Federal Judge Blocks Allegiant Pilots’ Strike

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking pilots from low-budget carrier Allegiant Air from walking off the job today.

A strike would have affected 250 flights and more than 30,000 customers. Had the pilots extended the strike into the weekend as had been suggested, it could have affected more than 175,000 passengers during the busy Easter holiday.

Corey Berger, an Allegiant pilot based in Phoenix and a de facto spokesman for the Teamsters union, said the pilots will comply with the court order.

"Allegiant Air executives are pocketing millions while reducing benefits for pilots,” Berger said in a statement. “The deterioration of the scheduling system alone is keeping pilots from seeing their families and many (are) facing exhaustion. Striking is not an easy decision; it is a last resort, and because Allegiant executives are so unwilling to restore basic scheduling practices, we have been left no other option."

Pilots are miffed over Allegiant’s change in the scheduling system, as well as cuts to a disability program and other benefits. The Las Vegas-based carrier is one of the most profitable domestic airlines, with shares up 56 percent in the last year alone.

The union and the airline have been negotiating since November; they are scheduled to go before a federal mediator later this month.

Last week, pilots at Allegiant began appealing to the public with a letter on its website as well as some strategically placed Google search ads in key Allegiant hub cities.

“Thanks to your business, Allegiant Air is the most profitable airline in the industry and has had 48 consecutive profitable quarters,” the union wrote. “That’s why it’s so hard for us to understand why company executives are driving a race to the bottom in service, safety standards and treatment for veteran pilots.  There is simply no reason why we – you or I – should accept flying an airline that is content with just barely meeting acceptable safety standards.”

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