More than two dozen flight attendants broke ranks Friday with striking ground-crew workers and reported to work at Pan American World Airways, raising the airline’s hopes of restoring more flights to service.
Members of the Independent Union of Flight Attendants reported for flights from New York, complying with their union’s call for them to return to work, Pan Am spokesman James Arey said.
The union had previously directed its 5,000 Pan Am attendants to honor picket lines set up Feb. 28 by the Transport Workers Union, which represents 5,800 mechanics and other ground-crew workers.
The attendants’ union reversed the earlier order this week as a “show of faith” in its own contract negotiations with the airline.
Between 9:30 a.m. and noon, 34 flight attendants reported to work for eight domestic and international flights, Arey said. Until then, no more than a dozen had crossed picket lines daily to work on the same flights, he said.
In addition, “several hundred” attendants have notified the airline that they are available for work, he said.
Pilots and flight engineers have been working since shortly after the Transport Workers Union’s strike began.
Arey said Pan Am expects to restore 52.1% of its regular flights to service by next Thursday. The airline, which usually has 390 daily flights, had 157 flights Thursday, he said.
Pan Am and labor officials refused to comment on the progress of the contract talks with the flight attendants’ union, whose last contract expired Jan. 1. The union has set an April 1 strike deadline.
Contract talks that began March 14 between the transport workers and Pan Am were continuing, but officials refused to comment on the progress of the negotiations.