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AMR Ordered to Collect Fine From Pilots

March 31, 2001|MARY SCHLANGENSTEIN | BLOOMBERG NEWS

DALLAS — AMR Corp.'s American Airlines said Friday that a federal judge ordered the second-largest carrier to collect a $45.5-million damage award imposed on its pilots union for a 1999 work stoppage to close the court case.

U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall imposed the award after finding the Allied Pilots Assn. ignored his order to end the 11-day job action. Pilots called in sick in a protest to maintain seniority as pilots from Reno Air Inc. joined their union after American bought Reno.

The pilots' actions forced American to cancel 6,600 flights in February 1999, costing the company $250 million and snarling U.S. air traffic. The Allied Pilots Assn. was required to place $20 million in escrow, and the union has said the full $45.5-million award exceeds the value of its assets.

American didn't know Kendall planned to issue an order and hasn't determined how it will respond, said Jeff Brundage, vice president for employee relations. Kendall wants the issue resolved by April 30.

Kendall's order was reported Friday in the Dallas Morning News.

The Allied Pilots Assn. questioned the timing of the order, coming a day after the pilots' group and two other unions notified Chief Executive Don Carty that they would oppose the company's pending $4.2-billion purchase of Trans World Airlines Inc. because of potential conflicts combining the work forces.

"It strikes us as curious timing," said Gregg Overman, Allied Pilots Assn. spokesman. "It also doesn't appear to require any action on the part of the APA at this point."

American spokesman John Hotard denied it had anything to do with the timing.

Separately, Fort Worth-based AMR was accused by U.S. officials of illegal discrimination for refusing to hire a quadriplegic to take flight reservations.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it rejected job applicant Karry Lawson, who uses a wheelchair.

American Airlines was accused in a separate suit by the EEOC last year of violating the federal disabilities law by making medical inquiries of prospective employees. The suit said American rejected a qualified applicant to be a ramp clerk/cabin cleaner because of his mental disability.

"We haven't seen the lawsuit, so there is really nothing we can say," said Tim Kincaid, an American spokesman.

AMR shares closed up 60 cents at $35.12 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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