Trans World Airlines Inc. operated about 40 percent of its regularly scheduled flights out of Washington yesterday as the strike by 5,700 TWA flight attendants ended its second day.
TWA operated seven out of 21 scheduled flights from Dulles International and Washington National airports and three out of five scheduled flights from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, according to TWA spokeswoman Sally McElwreath. McElwreath said the airline expects to operate about the same number of flights out of Washington today, with flights increasing throughout the coming week as 1,500 new hires and 1,500 supervisors replace the striking flght attendants.
Worldwide, TWA canceled about half of its flights and halted service completely out of airports in Newark, Copenhagen, Cairo, Tel Aviv and Athens. Only two out of 14 TWA flights were operating out of New York's LaGuardia Airport. McElwreath said TWA expects to return to normal service within a week.
The TWA flight attendants went on strike early Friday morning after the union and the airline, which is controlled by New York financier Carl Icahn, failed to reach agreement on wage and work-rule concessions. Both sides said yesterday that future talks aimed at resolving the dispute have not been scheduled.
Icahn said that the flight attendants, whose base salaries range from $16,080 to $28,862 a year, average $35,000. He initially asked the flight attendants to accept a salary cut of 22 percent and work-rule changes.
While the flight attendants' strike will add losses to an already financially troubled airline, its ultimate effectiveness appears to hinge on the support the flight attendants receive from members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the union representing TWA's mechanics. The union representing TWA's pilots previously agreed that it would not honor a strike by the flight attendants.
In Washington, TWA mechanics crossed the flight attendants' picket line and continued to service aircraft. IAM Treasurer Carl Laws said that nationwide, the union is leaving the decision of whether to honor the flight attendants' picket up to its individual members. Meanwhile, the IAM urged TWA and the flight attendants to settle their dispute.
"We regret the strike took place and urge the parties to go back to the bargaining table and resolve their differences," said Bill O'Driscoll, acting president of District 142, the union representing TWA machinists.
Laws said that about half of the machinists are not reporting for work across the country. He said that in Kansas City, where TWA overhauls its planes and does long-term maintenance work, 95 percent of the machinists did not report to work on Friday. TWA disputed these figures.
TWA's pilots and machinists recently agreed to accept wage cuts in return for a share of future profits, moves that were taken to encourage Icahn to outmaneuver Texas Air Chairman Frank Lorenzo, who also was interested in acquiring TWA. While TWA has hundreds of millions of dollars of cash on its balance sheet to survive a strike, Icahn has said that if the machinists and pilots honor the flight attendants' walkout, he may halt operations and sell the airline's airplanes and routes.
The strike left 450 TWA flight attendants stranded in Europe, according to Cynthia de Figueiredo, a member of the International Federation of Flight Attendants negotiating committee. She said the union has arranged for three "sweeper flights" to bring them home.
Meanwhile, at National Airport yesterday afternoon, four striking flight attendants formed a picket line. One, Alexandria's Cathi Duffy, said she is concerned that the supervisors and newly hired employes who replaced the flight attendants did not receive adequate training.
"I am most concerned about the internal cabin safety," Duffy said. "What if someone has a heart attack, or there is a fire or an evacuation? How is the Federal Aviation Administration monitoring the cabin safety? Some of those 18-year-olds crossing the picket lines don't know their feet from their elbows."
One passenger, Mohammed Afzal of Arlington, said he was not worried about cabin safety. Afzal said he was taking TWA flights from National to New York's Kennedy Airport and then to London. TWA called him at home on Friday night to confirm that his flights were operating