DALLAS -- A lawsuit involving Spirit Airlines and the pilot association could lead to headaches for travelers.
Spirit Airlines asked for a temporary restraining order against its own pilots, who Spirit alleges are causing delays and cancellations.
On Sunday alone, 81 flights were canceled. And on Monday, canceled flights led to a caught-on-camera scuffle at a Florida airport.
So why is it happening? A lawsuit Spirit Airlines filed against the pilot association alleges the pilots are engaged in a "pervasive illegal work slowdown."
"By having slowdown like this, it really, really disrupts the system," says aviation consultant Denny Kelly, who is also a retired airline pilot. He said tactics like those have been used in the industry over the years.
The lawsuit says pilots are refusing to accept extra flight assignments as a way to put pressure on the airline during contract negotiations. This leads to delays and cancellations.
"Consequently, a slow down like this can be very serious for the airline, and that's really the only pressure the pilots can bring to bear," Kelly said.
Spirit Air has the third most flights out of DFW Airport, behind American and Delta. A DFW spokesman says there are 56 total flights a day, inbound and outbound. It's unclear if the restraining order will immediately lead to more on-time flights.
On Tuesday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against the pilots in favor of Spirit Airlines.
The pilot association released this response:
“Spirit pilots are committed to helping impacted passengers and the company restore normal operations. Spirit pilots were instrumental in returning operations to normal in 2015 and several times since then by going above and beyond their schedules, and waiving contractual restrictions in order to accept more flying. The court has spoken and Spirit pilots will fully comply with the order handed down, which is completely in line with our overriding goal: the resumption of normal operations. We call on the company to join forces with ALPA and the Spirit pilots to do just that.”
"Spirit is going to have to do something, besides the federal restraining order. And I suspect by this summer, they'll have signed a contract," Kelly said.
It might be worth your while to call the airline and see if your ticket is refundable.
"Makes me a little apprehensive. I think next time when we look at flights, we're probably not going to look at Spirit," says Kim Lee of Frisco, who was using Spirit Air Tuesday. "But I'll see how our trip goes."
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