The company proposed opening a JFK A320 domicile and requested recommendations
from the SSC according to the Allocation of Flying Protocol. The data indicated
that the other potential domiciles will not have sufficient departures
to make a base viable. The expected growth of the Airbus fleet will probably
eventually result in all mainland domiciles being made into an Airbus base.
Bids were posted for A320s for a JFK domicile.
DEN B737-200 Base Closing Delayed
With the domestic market doing well, the company is delaying the Denver
737 base closing until the May or June, 1999 time frame. A320 reliability
has been poor so a spare is being constituted in that fleet. This is causing
flying to be shifted into other fleets, eventually into the B737. Since
that fleet's routings are shifting more to the east, this causes an increase
in time for the Chicago domicile. As crews are trained in order to staff
up ORD, DEN crews will be surplused at about five per month. The company
has agreed to use Section 8-N of the contract for these surpluses.
Surplus letters were issued for HNL 747 F/Os, SFO 747 S/Os, DEN 737
captains, and O'Hare DC IO crews effective Jan. 3 1, 1999. The DEN and
ORD surpluses are in anticipation of those eventual base closings and the
surplus is being offered under Section 8.N of the pilot agreement. Additional
surpluses are expected in the near future for the SFO B747 crews as that
The company has been considering a nonstop flight between Chicago and
New Delhi (ORD - DEL). The SSC advised the company that the current contract
does not permit such an operation because of the eleven time zone limitation
in the Delhi side letter and that they would have to negotiate new language
before initiating that segment.
Preferential Bidding System
Letter 94- I 1 (Shuttle) states in part:
A Preferential Bidding System (an interactive bidding/line building
program) may be the preferred method for scheduling Shuttle pilots. The
parties agree to attempt to develop such a system as soon as practical.
The company again is developing software to test a Preferential Bidding
System(PBS) for the shuttle. The SSC will work with the company during
this evaluation in order to maintain control over the process. We will
evaluate the proposed software and the system, as well as monitor the development
and testing of the entire process. The concept of a PBS is a fairly revolutionary
change for United in the monthly bidding process, although other major
carriers use a similar system. Presently, the company first constructs
lines of flying which are put out for bid. In a PBS, pilots preference
trip pairings and line patterns either by number or by desired ID properties,
(such as: PM departures, no all nighters, New York layovers, etc.) and
LINE properties (Christmas off, maximum pay, minimum time away, etc.).
The program then builds the lines in seniority order, customized to each
pilot's requests. Since vacations, training and month end overlaps are
know while the line is being built, the schedule can be tailored to each
pilot. Secondary lines would either not be needed or be fewer. Vacation
credit for the Shuttle was established by Letter #95-15.
EO Lines for International Domiciles
A mediation resulted in new procedures at international domiciles.
There are many problems with implementing the system but it was begun in
a few smaller domiciles until it can be refined. International only domiciles
will have all reserve lines for the pilot displaced from the OE line the
same as other reserve line rules. He may designate up to six days in a
block as HDOs. Where a domicile has both domestic and international flying,
50% of the OE lines will be designated as domestic reserve rule lines and
all days treated as HDOs. Letters and e- notes were sent to the affected
pilots explaining the new procedures.
August Vacancy Bids
As a pilot group we have become used to frequent vacancy bid so when
the July bids were withdrawn many pilots wanted to know where the 'monthly'
bids were. The awards from what was essentially a combined July and August
bid, resulted in many of the quirks such as wide seniority disparities,
many unfilled bids, and junior successful bidders which were expected.
While the waiver benefited a large number of pilots and appeared to have
had the company's desired effect of filling the B767 and B777 F/0 vacancies
from the experienced F/Os in the
B727, A320, and-300 fleets, others were negatively impacted. However,
most of these problems were eliminated in the following round of bids and
most who missed bidding opportunities in August regained their bids.
By various methods of adjusting aircraft routings and managing training
assignments, the manpower planners have been able to reduce the excess
vacation allocation from approximately 680 Man-Months (M/Ms) down to 325
in just two seats. The present overage is 250 B767 and 75 B300 captain
M/Ms. To solicit deferrals outside of the February through April 1999 vacation
quarter, the company would have needed MEC permission. If it were necessary
to wait until the MEC met, it would be too late to defer any vacations
except from the last quarter.
However a request for proffers of deferrals was done in September in
hopes of gaining a sense of how much of this excess vacation commitment
could be deferred, or otherwise be handled. If, by combining deferrals
and rescheduling hours into equipment without vacation problems does not
adequately eliminate the remaining commitment, then flying will be reduced
in the critical fleets between November and April. The company adamantly
asserts they will not consider the possibility of a buy back at all. The
difficulty in getting MEC agreement, plus the disappointing results for
both parties, and knowing that any buy back would require some form of
premium pay led to their decision.
The present contract is silent on whether the company can solicit deferral
proffers from the pilots. When the language was drafted it was perceived
that the last vacation quarter was the least desirable period. It was given
to the individual pilot to decide if he would prefer to delay a split into
the next vacation year in hopes of being able to re-bid it for a more desirable
A method of halting the practice of arbitrarily using SFOEG crews to
ferry aircraft between off-property modification centers for cosmetic modifications
is now in effect. A report has been developed by the company to track all
ferries by use of a Unimatic page where they are reported to the OPBCM
pay desk. When an EG crew is used, which should only occur when there is
absolutely no available line crew for a ferry which cannot be delayed,
the pay desk will then restore sick leave to pilots on extended sick.
Presently, the selection will be the pilot in the appropriate fleet/seat
domicile, which should have had the assignment with the lowest sick leave
balance. The SSC will be provided with periodic reports as needed to track
Unimatic Crew Desk Comments Page
The long sought Unimatic facility for pilots to enter comments concerning
crew desk items was put into operation in November. The call for the page
will be PLTCM/FN#. It will be a two-way system where both pilots and crew
desk personnel can submit reports to the attention of both the company
The company voiced concerns about on-time reliability due to STAR flight
delays caused by previous evening late arrivals requiring a rest period
past the scheduled STAR flight departure time. This delay, in turn, may
impact down line departures throughout the day. They believe that by eliminating
short layovers (less than 11 hours), these delays could be significantly
reduced. A reduction of six STAR delays per day and the subsequent down
line impact is projected to cost $6 million. This figure could be significantly
reduced if more "like" aircraft are routed through the outlying stations.
The downside of this proposal may include longer duty days, less commutable
pairings and some longer layovers. The longer layovers may, in turn, reduce
days off in lines. The SSC reserves comment pending completion of the company
Bypass Pay for Shuttle Pilots
Pilots on the Shuttle who are awarded age 59 bypass pay will be paid
the full time credit of their line. A report was received from a Shuttle
pilot who was told that he would only be paid 85 hours, not the line projection
value. Pilots in this situation will be paid their full line credit (TCR)
value according to a letter of interpretation that has been positioned
with the payroll department.
HNL B747 Domicile
It has been reported for several months now that the B747 domicile
in HNL is in jeopardy of losing its viability. Due to economic conditions
in the Pacific
Basin the company has been evaluating various plans. The present plan
calls for the elimination of all classic B747s in favor of the more economical
400s for the Pacific Basin by next April. Under Letter 91-8 (as modified
by Letter 96-3), which established the HNL domicile, there would have been
no flying which that domicile could legally operate and would have to be
closed. Since this base has been in existence for nearly a decade there
are many pilots now living in Hawaii.
An ad hoc committee was established to review the HNL domicile and the
consequences of the changes in the Pacific and to report the MEC. This
report was presented at the October meeting. The MEC approved lifting the
restriction on the level of flying and destinations operated for the B747
fleet only. If it becomes viable to establish a HNL domicile in other equipment,
ALPA and the company would meet to draft new language and determine what
restrictions might be needed. Presently the company claims there is no
benefit in having a HNL domicile in other equipment, but they would bear
the expense if the restrictions on that domicile's scheduling were modified.
ORD HKG Operation
The ORD-HKG nonstop flight has been making frequent fuel stops, and
has recently operated over 16 hours nonstop more often. High corporate
interest in retaining this high profile operation is resulting efforts
to bring the reliability back. The optimum route over Russia and China
has not been used, and the B747-400s without the Phase 3engines have been
used frequently on the route. Air traffic problems in Hong Kong are also
causing extended flight times. Dispatch is working on obtaining new route
approvals, and priority status for the trip at ORD. This flight cannot
be scheduled for more than 16 hours block-to-block under the present contract.
Flight Operations has increased sits to reduce the delays caused by
crews being illegal after short layovers. Changing the minimum scheduled
layover time to I 1:00 hours will reduce delays at a small cost in additional
credit time and expense costs. Aircraft routing will add two minutes to
every segment systemwide to help trips operate more on time, again with
some increase in crew costs. United routes its airplanes linearly across
the nation while other airlines regionalize their aircraft routings. This
linear routing causes a higher percentage of aircraft to be delayed when
one airport has bad weather, creating a greater chaining of down line delays
than regional routings would cause.
End of Month Transition
Transitions from one month into the next have been infrequent but have
occurred recently. The changes to scheduled trips can change the length
of the trip into next month. The revisions to the schedules will be completed
prior to monthly bid closing so pilots who have carry-out trips can check
and bid around those changes. It is essential that all pilots check their
DSPREC/CALREC before bidding.
Cargoliner Debrief Times
There is some ambiguity in section 5.G. I-b. (2) of the pilot agreement.
The paragraph reads:
5.G.].b.(2) Notwithstanding sub-paragraph G-1-b-(]) above, a pilot
scheduled to fly a cargoliner shall be considered to be on duty until thirty
(30) minutes after the scheduled termination of the trip.
The problem is with the word 'trip.' The company has interpreted 'trip'
to mean the entire pairing, and was allowing 30 minute debrief periods
at the end of trip pairings. In this paragraph, the SSC believes the word
trip should mean each segment. When arriving from flying a cargoliner segment,
whether at the end of the pairing or just a duty period, additional debrief
time is needed to return to flight operations or hotel pickup points. The
company is now applying this interpretation to the construction of freighter
AM/PM Mixing and Long Sits
The committee continually protests the mixing of AM and PM times during
the same ID. This has become a real problem with minimum time layovers
followed by four and five leg days. This not only violates the intent of
the Shuttle agreement but can become extremely fatiguing. Pilots flying
these IDs are reminded to be especially aware of the fatigue problem. Most
of these IDs have been weekend exceptions and only operate a few times
during the month.
Scoring of Shuttle Trips Even the problem stated above did not cause
the Shuttle scoring to be unacceptable, which clearly showed that the program
needs to be amended in the next contract. It was planned that shuttle IDs
would operate on a daily basis. Now, with marketing cancellations on weekends,
many trips operate only once per week and the scoring system does not adequately
penalize the ranking when the trips occur only once a week.
Weekend Trip Drops
When the restriction on weekend trips drops was eliminated some things
were not anticipated. Every trip picked up creates another trip drop. The
problem is that a one-day trip picked up allows the drop of a multi-day
trip, which creates a greater shortage of reserves. This might have to
be changed to require an equal day pickup as dropped. More history will
be developed before any changes are made. The company will allow pilots
picking up time to do so up to the maximum allowable credit time to be
able to make crossover.
Excess Open Time
The hours in open flying prior to the big pick are because of more
secondaries being built. By not building the secondary lines there would
be too much additional open time left for reserves or trading, but most
of it would be on those days that already had open time. The shortage of
open trips in October was due to the schedule change rather than using
them for secondaries. More secondaries could be built except that not enough
pilots bid, or are eligible, for unadvertised secondary lines (999 bids)
and unadvertised secondaries cannot be involuntarily assigned.
Additional open time appears as jury duty, sick leave and military leave
occur. However, if pilots expecting military leave could notify the company
before the big pick, those trips would be available for trading. This would
also allow the company to build an accurate number of secondary lines and
give other pilots the ability to bid.