A labor arbitrator rejected a grievance filed by the ALPA-represented pilots of Midwest Airlines challenging the Milwaukee-based carrier’s decision to replace mainline Boeing 717 service with 12 Embraer E170s operated by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways. The first of the 76-seat Embraer jets, at one time used to serve Republic’s now dissolved Frontier Express network, began flying as Midwest Connect on October 1.
Former airline executive David Siegel has eschewed big iron in favor of business jets, having been named president and CEO of California-based XOJet, a rapidly growing private aviation company.
Ask an airline executive to rank the most frustrating aspects of his job, and labor relations will more often than not top the list, particularly at a time of massive layoffs and salary reductions. Of course, some airlines experience more success than others in maintaining relatively positive relationships with their employees.
Last month’s ratification of a cost-cutting deal by the 1,400 pilots of Air Canada Jazz could set the country’s regional airline industry on an entirely new course if management succeeds with a reorganization plan centered on a broader scope of operation for the Air Canada regional subsidiary.
For years major airline executives have recognized their regional affiliates’ potential to take a more active role in serving markets that until recently occupied the exclusive domain of mainline operations. But limited labor resources and influential pilot unions curbed efforts to penetrate the artificial barrier between mainline and regional flying.
Continental Airlines last month said it would end all pilot furloughs this year to stem excessive pilot-training costs at its Continental Express subsidiary. A “flow-through” agreement negotiated in ConEx’s pilot contract in 1998 allows furloughed mainline pilots to bid for positions at the regional airline.
The summer of 2001 saw regional airline executives sweating from more than the heat of the season, as 89 days of uncertainty produced by the pilots of Cincinnati-based Comair threatened to halt the growth momentum of an entire industry. Of course, the strike severely hurt Comair’s parent airline, Delta, to the tune of at least $200 million.
In a move widely expected to portend an industry trend in years to come, Continental Airlines last month confirmed its intention to sell 20 percent of its now wholly owned Continental Express subsidiary on September 1, laying the foundation for an eventual full spin-off of the Houston-based regional airline.
An unsettling air of ambivalence descended on Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport last month as Comair pilots ended an 89-day strike that cost Delta Air Lines at least $200 million and an untold number of non-striking employees their jobs.
Airline executives whose predictions of regional divestitures raised eyebrows just two years ago watched their prophesies turn to hard reality in late February, as Northwest Airlines announced its intention to spin off its Memphis-based Express Airlines I subsidiary and Continental Airlines revisited its plans to divest itself from Continental Express.