Flight attendants picket at Honolulu airport amid United Airlines staffing cuts

Flight attendants picketed at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. (Image: Hawaii News...
Flight attendants picketed at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Dec. 13, 2018 at 4:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of flight attendants picketed outside the United Airlines check-in at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Thursday.

Flight attendants worldwide are standing together in solidarity to protest the decision by United Airlines management to initiate staffing cuts.

The protest lasted from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday.

Honolulu’s protest was one of 16 at airports in Los Angeles, Chicago, Toyko Narita, London and more.

The Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing nearly 50,000 flight attendants, released this statement on the protests:

“Change will not come if we sit back, complain and take no serious action. We need skin the game, a personal stake and to step up, take a stand and shout out that this is not acceptable and we will not merely stand silently and accept these changes that are not in the best interest of our passengers, our company or our collective future.”

United Airlines plans to remove one flight attendant from most wide-bodied aircrafts and some 757s. It says that by pre-plating meals, less workers will be needed on each flight.

Unionized flight attendants disagree, saying their job reaches beyond prepping and serving food.

“The main reason why flight attendants are on board is for safety,” said Kevin Batey, AFA local council president. “If there’s an incident on board, a medical emergency, a security incident, that’s one less flight attendant that’s available to deal with the situation.”

Batey also said that reducing the number of flight attendants on a plane would mean food carts in the aisles for longer and more time before trash is collected.

In an interview with CNBC Wednesday regarding the worldwide protests, United CEO Oscar Munoz said the staff cuts are necessary to compete with rival airlines, American and Delta.

"Change is difficult," Munoz said in the interview. "We'd been staffed higher than all other of our major competitors on those flights."

Protestors are hopeful that United will see the benefits of maintaining the number of flight attendants on each plane and choose to forego staffing cuts.

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