Your LEC Presidents have received questions, comments, and concerns regarding AFA LOA 2020-04-10 [Hawaii Turns Due to COVID-19 Restrictions] that was communicated in yesterday’s AFA Update. Based on the feedback that has been brought forward, the MEC would like to provide additional clarification around the decision to enter into the letter of agreement (LOA).
The situation surrounding COVID-19 has changed day-by-day over the past several months. The State of Hawaii announced a mandatory self-quarantine order for all persons entering the state on March 21 that requires all visitors to proceed directly to their hotel room upon arrival and remain there for 14 days or for the entire duration of their stay in Hawaii, whichever is shorter. The order also specifies that while under self-quarantine, visitors who leave their hotel room for any reason other than to seek medical attention could be subject to a fine of $5000, imprisonment of one year, or both. The self-quarantine order for visitors is in effect until at least May 20, 2020.
Management provided AFA with clarification received from the State of Hawaii that airline crews have an exemption from the self-quarantine order and may instead abide by the state’s stay-at-home order provided that crewmembers undergo a temperature screening prior to leaving the airport. As part of the exemption, if one member of the crew is found with a body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, the entire crew is required to self-quarantine in their hotel room and abide by all of the provisions of the self-quarantine order. Crew members who refuse the temperature screening are treated as passengers and are also subject to the self-quarantine order.
Hawaii turns enacted under 8.S
The MEC worked quickly to enact protective measures for Flight Attendants based on the potential requirement for self-quarantine for an entire crew based on one person’s temperature screening results, restrictive measures that were being required if self-quarantined, and harsh penalties for violations of the order. Both AFA and management agreed to begin turning crews out of Hawaii using the provisions of section 8.S [Natural Disasters, Acts of War, Riots, Terrorism, etc.] of the JCBA. Crew Scheduling began modifying pairings as necessary and Flight Attendants began operating Hawaii flying as turns on March 26, 2020.
Management provides AFA notice to discontinue 8.S turns
Last week, management provided AFA with notice that they intended to discontinue operating Hawaii flying as turns and return crews to regularly constructed trips with Hawaii layovers. As the state of Hawaii’s self-quarantine order for visitors is still in effect through May 20, the MEC had serious concerns for the safety and well-being of Flight Attendants who might be forced to undergo temperature screening and comply with the state’s restrictive requirements.
Management indicated that they were reluctant to continue operating these trips as turns due to the costs associated with having to staff each trip with two sets of Flight Attendants under the pay and rest requirements provided for in section 8.S. Contractually, operating flights with a duty day exceeding 10 hours and 30 minutes under section 8.S requires that both AFA and management mutually agree.
The MEC discussed the possibility of crews returning to Hawaii layovers and determined that the safety and health concerns were too great and that protections needed to remain in place given the State’s ongoing restrictions. Though management was not willing to continue operating Hawaii turns under section 8.S, AFA and management were able to reach an agreement that would allow these flights to continue to operate as turns while providing Flight Attendants with additional pay, staffing over minimum crew, and dedicated rest breaks and seats.
Key Provisions of the Letter of Agreement
No one will be awarded a Hawaii turn who doesn’t want one
In order to be awarded a Hawaii turn during the bid-award process, you will need to positively opt-in by selecting a waiver to either “Allow Redeye Long Duty (4k) Pairings” or “Allow Day Long Duty (4k) Pairings”. If you do not include this waiver in your bid in NAVBLUE, you will not be awarded a Hawaii turn.
Crews will be augmented with two additional Flight Attendants
One of the additional Flight Attendants will work to Hawaii as the “E” Flight Attendant and deadhead on the return flight to the mainland. The other additional Flight Attendant will deadhead to Hawaii and work as the “E” Flight Attendant on the return flight. This addition of a fifth Flight Attendant meets CFR requirements to augment crews when a duty day exceeds 14 hours. The sixth Flight Attendant provides additional staffing to prevent a cancellation should another Flight Attendant become sick online.
Dedicated crew rest seats and breaks will be provided
Management will pre-block seats for crew rest on all Hawaii turn sequences. The crew will be responsible for coordinating rest breaks of equal duration that will be offered in seniority order (e.g. the most senior F/A picks when during the flight they want to take their break, then the next most senior, etc.). While on break and in a crew rest seat, Flight Attendants are permitted to rest, sleep, eat, and use portable electronic devices in the same manner as a passenger. Note: at least 4 F/As must remain on active duty (not on break) at any given time.
2.0x pay continues to apply
Flight Attendants will be paid two times (2.0x) the rate of pay for any TFP flown during a Hawaii turn sequence. Any other contractual premiums due will be paid above this amount.
Hawaii turns are only temporary and have an end date
Hawaii turns are intended to ensure Flight Attendant health and safety while the State of Hawaii’s self-quarantine order for visitors remains in effect. The letter of agreement has an end date of June 30, 2020 and can only be extended if both AFA and management agree.
Prioritizing the Safety and Health of Flight Attendants
As a group, we are currently being presented with situations on a daily basis that are unprecedented and wouldn’t even have been thought of just a few months ago. As evidenced in the situation from last week where Holland America cruise passengers were going to be transported on Alaska aircraft, AFA representatives continue to push to ensure that Flight Attendant safety and health are the first priority in every decision made and action taken. This is an area where there is no room for compromise.
The MEC had substantial discussion regarding the Hawaii turn LOA and the decision to enter into the agreement was not made lightly (nor was it unanimous). Based on the State of Hawaii’s restrictive measures if required to self-quarantine and harsh penalties for violations of the self-quarantine order, the MEC determined that it would be preferable to continue operating Hawaii flights as turns while the State’s requirements are in place.
As your direct representative on the MEC, your LEC President is available to answer questions that you have about the LOA or the information above. You can find contact information for your LEC President by clicking here.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Linda Christou, Matt Cook, Terry Taylor, Mario de’Medici, Melissa Osborne, Tim Green and Brice McGee