11th-hour Pilot Deal Saves CCAir

 - October 8, 2007, 1:12 PM

Given one last chance to agree to pay cuts or risk the death of their airline, the pilots of CCAir finally blinked on April 29, when 72 percent of the Charlotte, N.C.-based airline’s remaining 108 active pilots voted in favor of a new five-year labor deal fashioned by parent company Mesa Air Group. The contract–the third and final offer issued by Mesa–results in significant reductions in turboprop payscales and work-rule provisions, but guarantees the placement of regional jets with the airline, creating new positions for furloughed pilots and the potential for higher salaries for those graduating to jets.

The deal withdraws a $500,000 signing bonus and the one-year furlough-protection guarantee featured in Mesa’s previous offer, rejected by CCAir’s pilots on April 10 by a margin of 48 to 45. The withdrawal of those provisions allowed CCAir to furlough another 40 pilots last month. However, it guarantees that at least half of any further jets awarded to Mesa Air Group under its US Airways Express contract–up to a total of 35–will go to CCAir.

On March 15 CCAir president Carter Leake notified employees that Mesa planned to close the money-losing regional on July 1. However, the letter arrived on the same day as Mesa’s second offer to CCAir’s pilots, betraying a last-ditch effort to extract pay and work-rule concessions from the group. The pilots had already rejected Mesa’s first proposal, which was issued in February.