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Are any talks going on between COMAIR pilots and mgmt?

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Are any talks going on between COMAIR pilots and mgmt?

Old 2nd Jun 2001, 11:45
  #1 (permalink)  
Ignition Override
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Arrow Are any talks going on between COMAIR pilots and mgmt?

Just curious about new facts, not conjectures, or crystal ball smoke.
Old 3rd Jun 2001, 09:31
  #2 (permalink)  
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Apparently NOT...ALPA.org or Comair.com sites have regular updates...sad situatuin indeed for the many friends I have there
Old 3rd Jun 2001, 14:30
  #3 (permalink)  
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Rumour has it management has bought Frank Larenzo cronnies into it. Also Mesa, and Southwest are going to start flying into there at this time things will either be sorted out, or it will be the end.
Southwest and Mesa pilots will not be strike breaking unless they start going under Delta flight numbers, which I am pretty certain will not happen.
Old 6th Jun 2001, 09:31
  #4 (permalink)  
Rogaine addict
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I heard that DOT Secretary Norman Mineta has called the parties into his office for a meeting on Friday 6/9. Hope the meeting is fruitful.
Old 6th Jun 2001, 10:43
  #5 (permalink)  
Ignition Override
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Sometimes an outsider who is respected by two opposite "camps" can induce binding arbitration. I feel sorry for the other employees also, but don't get me wrong-the time was long overdue, in my opinion, to improve both US turboprop and jet First Officers' pay to a level where they won't need government food stamps to help feed families, or buy them clothes. How about the other US regionals? This might be conjecture, but they must all have been pushing Delta very hard (lobbying politicians?) so that it would not back down a bit, via the influential ownership/mgmt unions: ATA and the (RAA) Regional Airline ASSociation.

It now appears that duty/rest rules are the main problem areas.

Don't British and European laws require employers (or a government fund) to contribute from the first year to a worker's retirement fund, or is it only the employee's problem in some countries?

[This message has been edited by Ignition Override (edited 06 June 2001).]
Old 7th Jun 2001, 11:58
  #6 (permalink)  
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Here is a recent article from the Orlando Sentinel(3/6). May have some "new" info. Had to copy entirely, since not able to find valid URL reference.

"The casualties in Comair's pilot strike are piling up, but neither side is blinking after a 70-day standoff. The airline has lost millions of dollars. Executives have shrunk the carrier's fleet by almost a third. Pilots' families are living on union strike benefits instead of salaries. And thousands of other Comair employees are getting no paychecks at all.

So why are the pilots and the carrier entrenched, when both have so much to lose in what has become the nation's longest airline strike since 1989?

Industry watchers say it's because the Delta Air Lines subsidiary and its pilots are adamant that they will not capitulate in a battle that could transform the regional airline industry.

And while labor strikes usually devastate airlines with a total shutdown, the action at Comair hasn't stopped Delta from selling millions of tickets on its other flights.

That leaves Delta in a position to wait out the strike indefinitely, with little motivation to cave in, some experts said.

"Each side seems to perceive that there's a great deal more at stake here than just a contract," said James Brock, a professor of economics at Miami University of Ohio. "Comair has gone to an almost all-jet fleet and yet seems to want to continue to pay the pilots as if they were flying puddle-jumpers in the outback."

Comair, once the nation's second-largest regional airline carrying 8 million passengers a year, now has canceled all flights through the end of July. And other carriers already are swooping in to nibble at its business.

At Comair's Cincinnati hub, Mesa Airlines intends to start flights on July 8 to six cities where Comair flies. And Atlantic Coast Airlines, which operates flights as both United Express and the Delta Connection, is planning to fly between there and Washington, D.C., another Comair route.

With several major airlines operating hubs in the Midwest, other carriers also may be looking to move Comair's Ohio-area passengers through their cities, said Darryl Jenkins, director of the Aviation Institute at George Washington University.

"It would not take much effort on the part of a competitor to come in and start incrementally stealing all your traffic away from you," Jenkins said. "If I were a competitor of Delta's right now, I would be looking at invading their territory."

The impact of Comair's absence has been scarcely felt at its small Orlando International Airport hub, because Delta and other airlines have picked up many of its passengers.

The airport has lost about $175,000 in typical landing fees from Comair's 58 daily flights to 15 cities, but so far no other carriers have stepped in to take over the airline's service.

Comair, which flies mostly in-state routes in Florida, last year carried about 935,000 travelers through Orlando. It's the sole airline that flies from Central Florida to Fort Myers, Pensacola and Greensboro, N.C.

Jenkins thinks Comair's contract dispute has grown so acrimonious that it won't ever be settled. Eventually, he predicts the carrier will disappear altogether, and Delta will start partnerships with other regional airlines to replace it.

Mike Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, a Colorado consulting firm, said Delta will put Comair's jets to use -- whether or not the carrier ever returns to the sky.

If Comair folds, Delta could speed up the expansion of subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines, create a new subsidiary or reach agreements for other carriers to fly under the Delta Connection banner, he said. Comair's 1,350 pilots are betting that Delta ultimately will opt for reviving their airline.

"You have to do the gut check and say, 'Are they really going to rip the airline apart?' " Orlando pilot Capt. Philip Stasik said. "If I think that they might, is it worth it to me?"

The pilots are holding out for more pay, higher retirement benefits and better work rules -- improvements that would bring them closer to jet pilots at major airlines. The carrier, which insists it can't afford such expensive measures, has threatened to shut down completely before caving in to their demands.

A beginning Comair pilot currently earns about $16,000 a year and climbs to about $68,000 after 13 years. That's a far cry from the six-figure salaries earned by some veteran pilots at major airlines.

"Our dearest wish is just to get back to the bargaining table," Stasik said.

There have been no steps toward more negotiation since pilots rejected a mediator's proposed settlement May 12. And Comair has said it won't return to the table until the pilots make concessions -- something the union isn't ready to do.

Most Comair pilots remain staunch in their contract struggle, Stasik said, but some have found jobs elsewhere. Of those, many are working part time or otherwise "keeping a foot in the door" at the airline.

Analysts expect little movement in the conflict until after Delta seals a deal with almost 10,000 of its own pilots, who will announce June 20 whether they have approved a tentative contract that was reached to avert a strike in April.

"Everybody's watching to see what the Delta pilots are going to do with their tentative agreement," Stasik said. "On the 20th of June, the door will probably open again."

Even so, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce is urging federal transportation officials to intervene sooner. And the National Mediation Board previously has said it may attempt to restart talks in mid-June.

Comair has estimated the strike's price to the airline at $4 million a day for the first seven weeks and about $2 million daily since several waves of cost-cutting last month. In all, the damage amounts to about $240 million so far in lost revenue.

Since the strike began March 26, Comair has eliminated 400 pilot jobs and laid off 2,400 nonstriking employees. The carrier also reduced its fleet from 119 aircraft three months ago to 82 jets.

Those moves have dropped the airline's daily expenses to $500,000, according to Comair.

Despite the vanished revenue, Comair has the upper hand over striking pilots as long as Delta keeps ferrying passengers on flights operated by the main carrier, Delta Express, and ASA, Boyd said. That way, the company may eke out profits -- even with no money coming in from Comair.

"Delta-Comair certainly could pay more and still be profitable. But when you sit down at the bargaining table, you bargain for what you can get," he said. "In this case, Delta has most of the aces."

For Delta, which bought Comair in 1999 for $1.8 billion, the end result of the pilot negotiations could have a lasting effect, Boyd said.

Pilots at ASA, which like Comair flies under the Delta Connection banner, likely would expect to match Comair's deal when they next negotiate their own contract.

The same could go for fliers at regional airlines Atlantic Coast and SkyWest, which have marketing agreements with Delta.

With all those pilots eyeing the Comair fight, Delta has incentive to ride out the strike, Jenkins said.

"If they do not hold the line now, things will spiral out of control," he said.

Comair spokesman Nick Miller said granting the pilots' wishes would increase the airline's labor costs 85 percent. The mediator's proposal that pilots voted down last month, which immediately would have raised salaries between 13.2 percent and 30 percent, would have boosted the carrier's costs more than 30 percent.

The airline is concerned that appeasing the pilots not only would raise expenses for the duration of the next contract but also would raise the bar for all future negotiations, he said.

"It would put us on a path to a slow death," Miller said. "We would not be able to compete. We wouldn't be able to make the investments we need to grow this airline."

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