American Pilots Back On Job

For American Airlines passengers, anger turned to anxiety Monday as an uneasy truce had the airline back in business, reports CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin.

Pilots have been ordered back to work by U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall. In his ruling, he said of the two-week long sickout: "The ridiculousness of this is only surpassed by its outrageousness."

Kendall threatened heavy fines against the pilots' union, and most pilots took the threats seriously and headed back to work. Only 10 percent of flights were canceled Monday.

Still, some pilots remain on the sick list, despite the judge's order.

"Pilots need to get back to work. We are encouraging our people to go back to work," said Drew Engelke of the American Pilots Association.

"We're just glad they are coming back and we hope by the end of the week to be in business as usual here," American Airlines spokeswoman Sonja Whitemon said.

The court ruling, however, did not address the pilots' original dispute. The pilots have been protesting the lower salaries being paid to pilots at Reno Air, a small airline recently bought by American.

Some Reno pilots' pay is half the $164,000 a year that an experienced American pilot is paid. AMR said the pilot union's demands to add Reno pilots to the higher pay scale quickly would cost as much as $50 million this year.

Meanwhile, the union insisted it had done all it could to get the pilots back on the job.

"We're taking his order seriously," union president Rich LaVoy said Sunday of the judge's ruling.

American's parent company, AMR Corp., and the Allied Pilots Association headed back to the bargaining table Monday in virtually the same place they were 10 days ago before pilots began calling in sick and refusing overtime, canceling thousands of flights and delaying travel for more than a half-million passengers.

Both sides said the sickout had not changed their original negotiating positions. So far, neither the company or union has requested a federal mediator or binding arbitration in the dispute.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report