American’s Pilots Question CEO Decision to Skip Trump Meeting

Doug Parker.

Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

The decision by American Airlines Group Inc.’s chief executive officer to skip an industry meeting with President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from the carrier’s pilots union.

CEO Doug Parker’s failure to attend has “shaken our confidence” in his judgment, Dan Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association, said in a statement Friday.

“For our airline’s CEO to say ‘no thanks’ to President Trump flat-out amazes me,” Carey said. “Based on the steady stream of e-mails and phone calls I have received from my pilot members, I have plenty of company.”

American referred questions about the union chief’s remarks to a Thursday letter in which Parker told employees he was “certain” he made the right decision to stay in Texas to speak at a gathering of 1,600 of the airline’s managers. Parker told employees there was no political motivation involved and that he made sure ahead of time that American’s concerns were communicated at the White House meeting.

Trump and executives from the biggest U.S. airlines, air-freight companies and airports discussed infrastructure spending, an overhaul of the air-traffic-control system, and changes to taxes and regulations, attendees said. 

The pilots’ union has criticized Parker and American in recent months for refusing to reopen a part of its contract early to negotiate new pay rates after significant raises for aviators at Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. The labor group has also accused American of failing to fully implement a contract agreed to in 2015 and cramming too many flights into the airline’s schedule.

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