Will US Airways flight attendant strike ruin holiday travel?

PHOENIX - With the holidays only a week away, US Airways flight attendants picketed at Sky Harbor Wednesday afternoon talking about a possible strike.

Flight attendants upset with pay and working without a contract demonstrated at the airport's Terminal 4.

Just a week before one of the biggest travel days of the year, Thanksgiving, there are concerns a flight attendant strike could lead to travel cancellations. The local Airline Flight Attendants union (AFA) will decide Tuesday if they strike.

The union says 6,700 flight attendants around the country are fed up with stalled contract negotiations.

According to the AFA, contract negotiations have failed since the US Airways/America West merger in 2005.

"It's really important to note to our public; continue to fly US Airways. We don't want to do this. We want a contract that would be ratified," local AFA president Deborah Volpe said. "Doug Parker, (CEO and Chairman of US Airways), has his eyes on a new merger with American Airlines, but he needs to finish this merger first and work with his current employees." 

Legally, the earliest a strike could happen is the end of December. Thanksgiving travelers should be spared any headaches, but Christmas travelers might not be as lucky.

"If we have to strike, we will strike," Volpe said.

US Airways has been working to merge with bankrupt American Airlines since August. If the merger happens, US Airways/American Airlines would become the world's largest carrier.

Volpe and US Airways officials both say it is unlikely that a strike would happen during the holidays, but it could occur during Arizona's peak season.

"January, February, March. We're talking Spring Training, winter travel. That's when the impact could hit," Volpe said.

If AFA members approve a strike, the issue would be forwarded to the National Mediation Board for review, Volpe said. The NMB would have its say before a strike could happen and there would be a 30-day cooling period first.

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