Chautauqua Pilots Rally Against ‘Alter Ego’ Rival

 - January 22, 2008, 11:51 AM

Pilots of Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines planned to walk an informational picket line on March 28 at Louisville International, Ky., and Indianapolis International Airports in protest of the parent company’s plans to start a nonunionized carrier called Republic Airlines. Represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the pilots charge Chautauqua’s parent company with violating the transfer of aircraft provision in the scope clause of their collective-bargaining contract. The Teamsters has filed a grievance over the matter in hopes of derailing Republic’s plans.

Republic recently accepted a $7.8 million tax incentive package from the state of Kentucky to locate its new corporate headquarters, crew base and primary maintenance facility at Louisville International Airport. Planning to fly under the US Airways Express banner starting this July, Republic expects to fly 10 Embraer ERJ-145s by the end of this year, and another 10 by July of next year. The deal with the state calls for the creation of 355 jobs, including pilots, flight attendants, management and support staff. The airline would occupy a temporary facility in Louisville until the airport authority builds a new headquarters and hangar, scheduled for completion in the fall of next year.

On March 7 the Teamsters mailed ballots to 550 Chautauqua pilots for a new vote on US Airways’ controversial “Jets for Jobs” program, which, if accepted, would give furloughed US Airways pilots access to half of all new RJ positions at Chautauqua. The regional pilots narrowly rejected the plan last June, a decision that ultimately furnished management with grounds for the establishment of the nonunionized division. The union hopes a “yes” vote in this case will convince Republic to cancel its plans.