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American Airlines Employees to Get Monthly Bonuses If They Best Competitors

Jan 24, 2014 7:00 am

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As free market economist Adam Smith once said (well, maybe not): Incentivize American Airlines workers to perform better than their counterparts at Delta, United and Southwest, and they will meet performance targets and excel. Or, it’s worth a try.

— Dennis Schaal

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Carlo Allegri  / Reuters

People walk past an American Airlines logo on a wall at John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in in New York November 27, 2013. Carlo Allegri / Reuters


American Airlines unveiled a new employee incentive plan that will pay workers up to $150 a month if operations at the airline are better than its competitors.

The program, called Ops Olympics, will measure American’s on-time arrival, baggage performance and customer satisfaction against its three largest competitors: Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

If American ranks first in the Department of Transportation monthly reports in those categories, employees will earn $50 for each category win, up to a maximum payment of $150 per month. If the carrier does not place first in any of the categories, workers could still get a $50 bonus if the airline’s departure times, known as D-zero, are over 70 percent.

“D-zero will be at the core of everything we do at American Airlines. Departing on time leads to consistent on-time arrivals and baggage delivery,” Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom said in a message sent to employees on Thursday. “But in order to excel at D-zero, we must be ready. That means no matter your job, you’re there on time, in position, in uniform, with your tools and equipment, trained, rested and ready to go out there and excel. In doing so, we’ll be safe, reliable and well on the road to restoring American as the greatest airline in the world.”

The program is similar to US Airways’ “Triple Play” program, which offered incentives to the airline’s employees for consistent operational performance.

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