View Full Version : US Airways Asks ALPA to Waive RJ Scope Clause

31st Jul 2001, 06:47
July 31, 2001

US Airways Sees Regional Jets
As Key to Stand-Alone Success


ARLINGTON, Va. -- Now that UAL Corp.'s proposed acquisition of US Airways Group Inc. is dead, US Airways is plotting its future as a stand-alone carrier. Monday the nation's sixth-largest airline identified as one "critical challenge" the lack of adequate numbers of regional jets in its commuter carriers' fleets.

US Airways, in a letter to all employees, said it asked the leadership council of the Air Line Pilots Association for permission to boost the number of small jets the carrier can operate over and above what is permitted in the current pilot contract. US Airways, Arlington, Va., didn't specify in the letter how many planes it wants to add, but said it asked the union to respond by Aug. 13.

Regional jets, which are preferred by passengers, are an economical way to serve smaller markets that don't justify big-jet service. High-cost US Airways is looking hard at strategies that will help lower its expenses. Rakesh Gangwal, chief executive officer, met with union leaders Monday to discuss US Airways' plans to build on its strengths on the East Coast and return to profits.

An interim agreement reached last year between US Airways and its 6,000 pilots caps at 70 the number of 50-seat jets US Airways' commuter affiliates can operate. As of July 1, three commuter carriers that fly for US Airways under contract operated a total of 59 regional jets. That agreement was expected to be superseded by a larger deal for more regional jets, but no formal negotiations occurred and US Airways then agreed to be acquired by UAL's United Airlines.

The merger was shot down last week by federal regulators. A spokesman for the pilots union said it was "disingenuous" for US Airways to claim it had tried to negotiate a new regional-jet agreement with the pilots union. "We don't even know what they want," he said, adding that the company has floated figures ranging from 200 to 400 small jets. He said the union can't agree to more regional jets without negotiating job-security provisions, and insisted there is no way ALPA will meet US Airways' deadline.

US Airways' letter to workers noted that regional jets make up two-thirds of the commuter fleets at Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines, but only 18% at US Airways. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, UAL's United Airlines and Northwest Airlines also have dramatically increased the number of small jets flying for their feeder airlines, putting US Airways at a competitive disadvantage. US Airways' three wholly owned commuter subsidiaries don't fly any small jets, only turboprops.