Allegiant Pilot Strike Blocked by Court Order on Eve of Walkout

Updated on

Allegiant Travel Co.’s airline won a court order blocking a pilots’ strike, thwarting what would have been the first walkout at a major U.S. carrier in almost five years.

The decision was issued in federal court in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Members of Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224 had planned to strike Thursday, saying Allegiant Airlines hasn’t complied with a court decision to reverse a scheduling system change and restore other benefits.

“Allegiant has every reason to believe that the Teamsters will honor the court’s instructions and will not be able to continue with their illegal intention to strike,” the airline said in a statement. All scheduled flights will operate normally, Allegiant said.

The union had estimated that a walkout would ground 250 flights and affect 33,000 customers daily, while Allegiant had said a strike would cost millions of dollars a day, scare off customers and disrupt travel on the Easter holiday weekend.

BerlinRosen Public Affairs, a firm representing the pilots, had no immediate comment on the judge’s order.

Earlier Thursday, Allegiant fell 6.6 percent to $179.65 in New York, its biggest one-day decline since July. The shares extended an earlier decline after pilots threatened to strike.

Allegiant said in its complaint that the walkout is illegal because the union and the Las Vegas-based airline haven’t exhausted procedures to resolve their conflict. The dispute came to a head after more than two years of failed contract talks between the union and airline.

Union’s Claim

Pilots claim the new scheduling system forces some to be routed away from home for extended periods and leads to exhaustion. A federal court in Las Vegas previously found the change altered the status quo, in violation of the law governing negotiations, and ordered Allegiant to revert to the prior system, the union said.

The last pilot strike at a large U.S. carrier occurred when pilots at Spirit Airlines Inc. walked off the job for five days in June 2010. Before that, the last work stoppage at a major U.S. airline operating on a regular schedule involved Northwest Airlines Corp. mechanics in 2005.

The federal Railway Labor Act, which governs airline unions, prohibits strikes during contract talks without authority from the National Mediation Board. That body hasn’t ruled on the union’s request at this time and has directed both sides to return to the bargaining table.

Allegiant is a low-cost carrier that primarily carries travelers from smaller cities to leisure destinations like Las Vegas and a number of cities in Florida.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the day that Allegiant filed its suit against the pilots.)

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