AIN Blog: Proposed Delta Scope Clause Could Break the Back of Small-RJ Fleets

 - June 8, 2012, 3:23 PM
Delta Connection CRJ200
Small-RJ fleets at Delta Connection carriers, consisting mainly of Bombardier CRJ200s, could shrink by almost two-thirds if Delta pilots ratify a new contract proposal as written. (Photo: Bombardier)

The scope clause language in the tentative settlement reached between the Air Line Pilots Association and Delta Air Lines in May at first looked like a positive development for all involved. After all, Delta’s pilots would get the chance to fly as many as 88 more narrowbodies, the Delta Connection regional affiliates would get to fly 70 more 76-seat jets and the OEMs, primarily Bombardier and Embraer, would finally get a chance to land a big RJ order in North America after a long drought.

But once ALPA released all the details, it became clear that at least one group of losers would emerge—namely the employees of the regional airlines who owe their jobs to the bloated fleets of 50-seat jets no one else seems to want anymore.

Under the terms of the tentative agreement, the Delta Connection carriers would lose 218 fifty-seat regional jets—accounting for 10,900 seats—while the additional 76-seat jets would add a relatively meager 5,320 seats, resulting in a net loss of 5,580 seats. Now flying 343 fifty-seaters, the Delta Connection affiliates would end up with a comparatively minuscule total of 125 once Delta finishes adding the 88 Boeing 717s it plans to source from Southwest Airlines.

In the end, according to the chairman of Delta’s ALPA unit, the mainline’s share of domestic flying will increase by 21 percent. That means more, better-paying jobs at the mainline, but, considering that narrowbodies require proportionately fewer employees per seat than regional jets, it also means a bigger loss of positions at the regionals.

In consideration of their ALPA brethren flying for the regionals, the Delta master executive council negotiated a provision requiring that at least 35 percent of Delta’s new pilot hires must come from Delta Connection’s ranks. Given that most mainline pilots now come from regional airlines anyway, that “concession” hardly amounts to a gesture of magnanimity.

The tentative agreement, approved by the Air Line Pilots Association’s Delta unit on May 15, carried a ratification deadline of June 30. If the majority of Delta’s more than 12,000 pilots vote in favor of the deal, it would take effect on July 1.

The Delta MEC official told AIN that they would start the ratification vote on June 15, complete its last road show on June 19 in Los Angeles and announce the results of the vote on June 29.


What the author fails to mention is the history of how all those RJ's came into Delta's system, which was at the expense of the Delat pilots by no growth at mainline for nearly a decade.

What the poster fails to realize or acknowledge in that history is that former negotiators for the DAL pilots negotiated those jobs away when they gave relief on scope in return for job protections of then existing pilots, less egregious pay concessions, and less egregious cuts in benefits. RJs were permitted by their contract, quite liberally. Furthermore, those contracts were ratified and approved by a vote of the entire pilot group. Bottom line, you get what you negotiate!

So if there is only 125 50-seaters left, who is that operator, and who gets/keeps all the 76-seat flying?....Someone is going to be left without a seat - and the biggest operator of the 50-seaters is SkyWest/Express Jet - it looks like they are in for a pounding in the next few years...What do you want to bet Comair gets the 76-seaters or disappears?

So much for the alleged pilot shortage!

Furthermore, those contracts were ratified and approved by a vote of the entire pilot group. Bottom line, you get what you negotiate!

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