Delta Air Lines looked to become the latest U.S. carrier to stretch its scope-clause limits when Air Line Pilots Association leadership agreed to allow regional jets certified to carry between 71 and 76 seats to fly under the Delta Connection brand starting next year. Under the tentative deal, scheduled for submission to a ratification vote by the end of last month, Delta Connection partners would gain the right to fly 15 of the larger jets starting next year, followed by another 15 in 2008. Thereafter, Delta would get to add three of the jets for every airplane it adds to the mainline fleet. As in the case of Northwest, Delta would likely choose between the Embraer 175 and a 76-seat version of the Bombardier CRJ900.
Scheduled to take effect June 1, the three-and-a-half-year contract would let stand a 14-percent wage cut outlined in a December interim agreement. If Delta’s pilots vote against ratification, a bankruptcy court judge will decide whether or not to allow the airline to unilaterally reject the terms of the old contract and assign larger RJs to its affiliates’ fleets.