MIAMI — Strikebound Eastern Airlines nearly tripled its flights Sunday, and the public responded by taking advantage of bargain "comeback fares," a company spokesman said.
At San Francisco International Airport, about 150 striking employees picketed in protest. San Francisco had two flights scheduled to Atlanta, Eastern's busiest hub, and two flights from Atlanta.
Eastern increased its daily flight schedule from about 80 to 225, serving 49 cities instead of 27. The move was on target with a business plan the company had submitted to the bankruptcy court to build a smaller, more viable airline.
The increase is being accomplished with the help of 300 pilots who did not honor the strike and 150 new pilots who have been trained since recruiting began after the strike. Another 550 pilots are in training and a recruiting drive is still under way, Eastern said.
The Air Line Pilots Assn. said Eastern's decision to increase service by using less experienced or less qualified pilots was a safety threat and that the company was simply trying to break the strike. A spokesman for the airline countered that it has been able to find people with "the best credentials of anyone in our history, and that's 61 years."