Comair’s flight attendants last month voted to accept a new five-year contract that would pay new cabin crew about 20 percent less than current employees, moving Comair one step closer to meeting its cost-cutting goals and adding 35 regional jets starting next month. The extra capacity will mean another 350 flight attendant jobs and guarantee existing workers their scheduled pay raises over the life of the contract.
Aviation International News » May 2005
SkyWest Airlines will fly another 20 CRJ700s for United Airlines as part of a deal that saw the St. George, Utah-based regional place another $637 million order with Bombardier last month. The contract calls for delivery of the airplanes starting in the third quarter and ending during next year’s first quarter. Configured to hold 66 passengers, the airplanes will carry six first-class seats.
A proposed DOT rule to lower the threshold to require wheelchair availability in Part 121-operated aircraft from 60 to 50 seats has rung alarm bells within regional airline circles, where 50-seaters account for well over half of the entire U.S. fleet. In the proposal, the DOT attributed the need for the change to the growing prominence of 50-seat jets.
As a percentage of a $200 airline ticket, taxes and fees more than tripled between 1972 and 2004 thanks to inflation, a decline in the real cost of airline travel and, more recently, increased security charges, as the government struggles to keep pace with the cost of providing the infrastructure necessary to support airline flights.
When corporate headquarters in Atlanta called on Comair to fly Bombardier CRJs three times a day from Cincinnati into Missouri’s Springfield-Branson Regional Airport, the wholly owned Delta subsidiary faced a dilemma familiar to regional airlines everywhere–how to establish a new station too small to justify the cost of the needed equipment and staff. Until recently, the only option lay with hiring another airline to perform the duties.
Industry developments have conspired to depress the 50-seat jet market to its weakest position since the late 1990s. Backlogs have shrunk to their lowest levels in years, and the latest deal struck by Independence Air to return another 24 CRJs to their lessors hasn’t helped matters.
By just about anyone’s reckoning the FAA audit process known as the Air Transport Oversight System (ATOS) has turned into a horribly labor-intensive and time-consuming job. Now, as the agency’s flight standards office loses about 250 employees a year to budget cuts, the onus has fallen squarely on the nation’s regional airlines to pay the bill.
Five years as an association president might seem like a modest stint to some, but Debby McElroy has seen enough in her tenure at the RAA to last a lifetime.
The Piper Meridian turboprop single will soon receive a production-line upgrade to Avidyne’s Entegra cockpit as a replacement for the airplane’s original Meggitt avionics, the Vero Beach, Fla.-based airplane manufacturer announced last month. The flight-deck change for the Meridian puts Avidyne aboard almost the entire Piper line-up after the lightplane maker earlier brought optional glass Entegra systems to several of its piston models.
If company marketing executives have their way, expect a flurry of announcements from autopilot maker Meggitt/S-Tec in the coming months. Representatives from the Mineral Wells, Texas company’s engineering, marketing and production departments met last month to put the final touches on plans for a new line of digital automatic flight control systems targeted at the lower echelons of business aviation.