Pilot Deal Signals Big Changes at UAL, United Express

AIN Air Transport Perspective » December 24, 2012
United Express carriers now fly 38 Embraer E170s. (Photo: Embraer)
December 24, 2012, 9:25 AM

A new pilot contract ratified by the pilots of United Airlines on December 15 will open more opportunities for “large” regional airplane flying by United Express affiliates but likely result in another large-scale grounding of 50-seat regional jets. It also appears to signal a desire for United to add 90- to 120-seat narrowbodies in the category of the Embraer E190/195 and Bombardier CSeries CS100 some time after January 2016.

The four-year pact, which finally allows UAL’s 10,000 pilots to begin working toward a consolidated seniority list following the 2010 merger of United and Continental Airlines, will allow for 255 seventy- and seventy-six-seat aircraft starting Jan. 1, 2014. By that time, 76-seaters may account for 130 of the 255 airplanes, and by Jan. 1, 2016, the number of 76-seaters may rise to 153.

In effect, the contract allows for the addition of 80 airplanes in the 70- and 76-seat categories starting in 2014. Two years later, if United adds new small narrowbodies (defined as the Bombardier CS100, Embraer E190 or Embraer E195) to the mainline, the number of 76-seat airplanes at the United Express carriers may rise from 153 to 223, and the combined complement of 255 seventy/76-seaters may grow to 325. Under the formula, the company may add a single 76-seat aircraft for every one-and-a-quarter small mainline narrowbodies. However, any increase in the number of 76-seaters above 153 would trigger a fairly complicated formula under which the United Express 50-seat fleet, which now numbers some 350, would begin to shrink.

Under the formula, as soon as the 76-seat fleet reaches 154, the number of 50-seaters would start to fall. Much depends on the size of the 50-seat fleet at the time the 76-seat fleet reaches the 154 threshold. Effectively, if the number of 50-seat aircraft in the fleet equals 334, for example, the formula states that the company would have to remove 2.99 (effectively three) fifty-seaters for every 76-seat jet added. If the 50-seat fleet equals 488, then the company would need to remove 5.19 fifty-seaters for every 76-seat jet it adds.

Other conditions include block hour limitations and hub connectivity obligations and a requirement that flights of less than 900 statute miles account for at least 80 percent of all United Express flights in a given month.

 

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Robert J. Boser
on December 27, 2012 - 11:01am

Once again, labor unions insist upon shooting themselves in the foot. Why on earth should any labor union dictate to management, what mix of fleets should be allowed in any company? How many seats on a plane, and how many of what type of planes, is something that management alone should decide.

All such meddling by power-hungry union bosses only ensures the cost of operating the company will be higher than it would be, if management had a total Free-Market right to make those decisions, without being hamstrung by another idiotic union millstone, hung around the company's neck.

The work rules imposed on UAL by the 2000 pilot contract, actually required UAL management to hire 33% more pilots, to accomplish the same amount of work done by SWA pilots. Any wonder the end result was that SWA went on to expand routes, buy more planes, and hire a lot more pilots and other employees, at the same time that UAL went into bankruptcy, parked planes, and laid off a lot of employees?

Labor unions do not create and protect jobs. To the contrary, they destroy them.

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exairline12
on December 28, 2012 - 10:01am

Actually what the Unions should do is say airlines can fly any size aircraft they want.- BUT- if it says united on the tail or on the ticket- United pilots, on the United seniority list are flying them PERIOD!

Untill the union gets that done, this will continue to be a race to the bottom, or a race to bankrupcy for various regionals.

By the way Boser- Comparing swa (a domestic point to point airline) with an international players is hilarious! Further, allowing "free market" decisions by airline management would've killed hundreds of thousands by now- Fire supression system not operable on the aircraft? Just Go! your probably not going to need it - but we sure want the revenue!!

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Mike
on December 28, 2012 - 11:00am

Well said!!!

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