AMR management has proposed loosening the scope clause language in its Allied Pilots Association (APA) contract as part of its plan to return to profitability following its eventual exit from bankruptcy. Language in the so-called term sheet issued to the American Airline pilots, 400 of whom face furlough as part of the plan, calls for a change in the definition of a “commuter carrier” to allow American Eagle and other regional affiliates to fly either jet or turboprop aircraft with a passenger capacity of 88 seats and an mtow as high as 114,500 pounds. Perhaps more significantly, the new clause would allow regional affiliates to fly as many as 255 jets with a passenger capacity of between 51 and 88 seats—or up to 50 percent of the total number of mainline aircraft. The maximum number of jets holding 50 seats or less allowed during any six-month period would equate to the number of narrowbody aircraft at American Airlines multiplied by 110 percent.
Under the current scope clause, American’s APA contract defines a commuter carrier as one operating aircraft with a maximum passenger capacity of 50 seats and a maximum takeoff weight of no more than 64,500 pounds. Exceptions include the 47 seventy-seat Bombardier CRJ700s Eagle now operates and 42 ATR 72 turboprops it plans to ground. As in the new proposal, the current contract allows the number of 50-seat jets at the regionals to rise only as high as 110 percent of the number of narrowbody aircraft flown at the mainline.
Meanwhile, limits on certain nonstop flying by regionals differs depending on whether AMR owns a majority of the airline of not. For example, 85 percent of departures by jet aircraft at regionals majority owned by AMR or an affiliate must operate out of nine American hubs or so-called focus cities, while other non-owned regionals cannot fly for American anywhere but into or out of those cities.
The proposed scope clause would completely eliminate the distinction between owned and non-owned regionals.
The new clause would also allow American to place its code on any route on which a carrier that operates both aircraft holding 88 or fewer seats and aircraft carrying 89 or more seats uses the smaller aircraft under the commuter air carrier section of the APA contract. Finally, it would modify the methodology of counting so-called commuter aircraft to reflect only those providing code share with American Airlines and change the definition of hubs and major airports to encompass only “cornerstone” cities (DFW, ORD, MIA, JFK and LAX). The current contract defines nine cities as “hub” or “major.”