AIN Blog: Proposed Delta Scope Clause Could Break the Back of Small-RJ Fleets
The scope clause language in the tentative settlement reached between the Air Line Pilots Association and Delta Air Lines in May at first looked like a positive development for all involved. After all, Delta’s pilots would get the chance to fly as many as 88 more narrowbodies, the Delta Connection regional affiliates would get to fly 70 more 76-seat jets and the OEMs, primarily Bombardier and Embraer, would finally get a chance to land a big RJ order in North America after a long drought.
But once ALPA released all the details, it became clear that at least one group of losers would emerge—namely the employees of the regional airlines who owe their jobs to the bloated fleets of 50-seat jets no one else seems to want anymore.
Under the terms of the tentative agreement, the Delta Connection carriers would lose 218 fifty-seat regional jets—accounting for 10,900 seats—while the additional 76-seat jets would add a relatively meager 5,320 seats, resulting in a net loss of 5,580 seats. Now flying 343 fifty-seaters, the Delta Connection affiliates would end up with a comparatively minuscule total of 125 once Delta finishes adding the 88 Boeing 717s it plans to source from Southwest Airlines.
In the end, according to the chairman of Delta’s ALPA unit, the mainline’s share of domestic flying will increase by 21 percent. That means more, better-paying jobs at the mainline, but, considering that narrowbodies require proportionately fewer employees per seat than regional jets, it also means a bigger loss of positions at the regionals.
In consideration of their ALPA brethren flying for the regionals, the Delta master executive council negotiated a provision requiring that at least 35 percent of Delta’s new pilot hires must come from Delta Connection’s ranks. Given that most mainline pilots now come from regional airlines anyway, that “concession” hardly amounts to a gesture of magnanimity.
The tentative agreement, approved by the Air Line Pilots Association’s Delta unit on May 15, carried a ratification deadline of June 30. If the majority of Delta’s more than 12,000 pilots vote in favor of the deal, it would take effect on July 1.
The Delta MEC official told AIN that they would start the ratification vote on June 15, complete its last road show on June 19 in Los Angeles and announce the results of the vote on June 29.