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AFA-MEC Officers' Message

Date: March 14, 2020

Life is changing around us, quickly. Much of it feels as if it is beyond our control. In fact, in terms of the industry in which we work, right now, much of it is beyond our control.

Today, as a result of additional governmental action, United will be reducing service into Argentina, El Salvador, Mexico and Brazil on top of already announced selective reductions to certain cities in Europe and some reduction in domestic capacity as well. As a result, we expect there will be additional revisions to the schedule development timeline that will likely further delay the opening of bids. We expect additional information will be available early next week. 

Over the next four weeks, Delta plans to reduce flight capacity by 40% and, as a result, will park almost 300 aircraft. Delta’s planned reduction is larger than its reduction following the events of September 11, 2001.

American Airlines plans to reduce international capacity for the summer season by 34% versus the previous selling schedule, including a 50% reduction in April trans-Atlantic capacity.  In addition, American will be reducing service to South America, including a suspension of flights to Argentina.

None of this “feels” right and, given the last several years of success, it’s almost impossible to fathom that the fortunes of our industry have seemingly turned on a dime, almost overnight. Nevertheless, we must face the facts. Demand for air travel is down and the entire travel industry that is built around our flying machines has been equally and dramatically impacted.

The combined impact of the evaporating demand for air travel, along with a reduction in airline stock prices, schedule reductions, and implementation of cost-cutting measures to conserve capital, reasonably have airline workers worried; not only about their jobs, but also their incomes and their futures.

Flight attendants, pilots, and ground workers, industry wide have expressed an overall concern about the health of the industry. In fact, in some cases that concern is greater than concerns about being exposed to COVID-19.

And while these events are, in fact, beyond our control, it’s important to understand that how you, in fact, how each of us react to these changing circumstances is, in fact, within our control.  

  • Don’t isolate yourself.  Reach out to family and friends.  While talking about your concerns is essential in working through your feelings, try not to obsess about the potential life change.  
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.  Everyone’s circumstances are uniquely their own. 
  • Be sure to give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling and don’t let others minimize what it is that you are feeling because the effects of these industry changes will impact each of us differently.
  • Keep yourself tuned into reliable sources of information from the Union.  www.unitedafa.org should be your official place for news and information.  

Your Local Council AFA EAP/Professional Standards representatives are available to talk with you about your fears and concerns. Take them up on their offer to listen to your concerns. A representative can be reached at 800 424 2406. While Members of our Union are fortunate to have peer professionals available to assist us, others aren’t as fortunate and have a greater reliance on the services within their respective communities.

Many community facilities and churches where community outreach activities occur are beginning to suspend the use of their facilities in an ongoing effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.  Of course, this suspension of use is creating a situation where some Members do not have access to the resources that might normally be available to provide support and assistance.  

As an alternative, “Wings of Sobriety” meetings are telephonic meetings available to any Flight Attendant. These meetings are held on Sunday at 5:00 PM ET and Wednesday at 3:00PM EST and last from forty-five minutes to one hour.  The direct line is 202-355-6337 and the toll-free number is 855-333-2327.  From International locations, contact 800 424 2406 to be provided a local number for the country from which you are calling. Refer to the full listing of international numbers available on the EAP/Professional Standards page of www.unitedafa.org

During these difficult times, it’s about all of us pulling together to help and support each other.  Be kind and offer a sympathetic ear to those in need. Know that your Union is advocating on your behalf and in your interest. As information becomes available, we will ensure it is passed along for your understanding.

In Solidarity, 

The Officers of the United Master Executive Council

                MEC President                                   MEC Vice President                        MEC Secretary-Treasurer

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