Should Pilots Be Held Responsible? Essay Sample about the Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Published: 2022-04-14
Should Pilots Be Held Responsible? Essay Sample about the Air Traffic Controllers Strike
Type of paper:  Critical thinking
Categories:  Human resources Airline industry
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 847 words
8 min read

The chaos witnessed at Florida airport emerged from the decision by Spirits Airlines canceled hundreds of flights. The crisis traces to pilots' failure to report to work leaving thousands of passengers stranded who grew irate learning of canceled flights. Typical cancellation of flights does not give credence to violent confrontation initiated by disappointed passengers. However, airline travel is a challenging experience characterized by anxiety. The imposition of serious disruption such as flight cancellation can easily aggravate matters to degenerate into chaos (Raedle, 2017). Under such circumstances, therefore, persons causing the disruption let flight cancellation are responsible for initiating the transmittable cause. The chaos at the airport originated from pilots acts including refusing to work and last minute calling in sick. The pilots are culpable for their coordinated actions to unsettle Spirit Airline flight services to gain the upper hand in ongoing contract negotiations.

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Unionized pilots are to blame for intentionally slowing down the airline operations that caused widespread flight delays and their eventual cancellation. The mass sick days by the pilots is the causal factor that led dissatisfied customers to engage in the Florida brawl. The situation was avoidable if the pilots showed up hence ensuring undisrupted flight services. Their absence through last minute call in sick held Spirit Airline's hostage. The intention of mass call in sick appeared clearly to influence the ongoing labor negotiations with the airline unable to deliver the crucial services (Mose, 2017). Perhaps, Spirit Airline is to blame for the snail-paced talks to meet the demands of its unionized pilots compelling them to walk off. However, the pilots who made last-minute sick calls cannot abdicate their responsibility for causing the service shutdown that triggered the Florida brawl.

The last-minute calls in rekindles the great Reagan resolve perceived air traffic controllers participating in the strike threatened passengers' safety at risk. Failure to turn up for the job over demands for better wages and benefits amounted to sabotaging air travel services. Walking off their job left thousands of aircraft travel untracked hence difficulty to know the exact position. Laying down the tools meant the American airspace was unsafe and uncertainty on efficient journey routes (McCartin, 2011). Aware of such facts, Reagan argued that the strike held the US air travel system hostage allowing them to have an edge in the negotiation. He viewed their strike as the intention to cripple the system as its summer travel peak. Reagan justified the $40 million counteroffer by FAA against the $770 million package sought given the inflationary pressure in the country (Glass, 2008).

Reagan gave a two-day deadline for the controllers to return terming their strike illegal. Again, federal judges imposed $1 million fines on the union daily. Reagan fired nearly 12.000 controllers citing its illegality and unnecessarily endangered the public by participating in the strike (McCartin, 2011). It marked active involvement through Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Failure to embrace the 5% increase in base salary and exemption of federal caps imposed on premium and overtime earnings. The new package featured 10% addition of differential night-shift pay, paid half-hour lunch, severance pay and one-year salary payment in the lump sum for medically disqualified controllers. Under pressure from Reagan, FAA contingency plan featured 3000 supervisors assisting 2000 nonstriking controllers supported by 900 drawn from the military (Glass, 2008). The plan restored normal operations, hence allowing air freight virtually unaffected. President Reagan imposed lifetime bans on the strikers to avoid rehiring them. The federal labor relations authority would later decertify the Professional Air Traffic Controllers.

Irate passengers were wrong to initiate the Fort Lauderdale Airport chaos to take out the airline employees. Going beyond the failure by Spirit Airlines to inform the passengers timely of flight cancellation, the participation of the pilots in the illegal work slowdown brought inconveniences to thousands of customers. That caused disappointments aggravated into bloody brawl. The union alongside its members are to blame for causing delay tactics to enhance their bargaining position (Satchell & Ballou, 2017). Therefore, it was wrong for pilots to inconvenience the passengers through flight cancellations to advance their agenda. The intention to disrupt flights and use such as leverage to advance their claims makes the pilot responsible for their input translated into chaos. Firing as Reagan did is appropriate if they failed to honor the court ruling and kept off their workstation. However, continued participation in the strike to influence negotiations warrant immediate dismissal and replacement as Reagan did.


Glass, A. (2008, May 08). Reagan fires 11,000 striking air traffic controllers Aug. 5, 1981. Politico. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from

McCartin, J. A. (2011, August 02). The Strike That Busted Unions. The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from

Mose, I. (2017, September 25). Atlas Air blames flight delays on union pilots. Market Watch. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from

Raedle, J. (2017, May 10). Airport chaos, flights canceled: Spirit Airlines apologizes. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from

Satchell, A., & Ballou, B. (2017, May 09). Spirit Airlines obtains court order against pilots, moves to restore full operations. SunSentinel. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from

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