Notwithstanding recent complaints of poor operational performance by the nation’s biggest regional airlines, passenger boardings, revenue passenger miles (RPMs), load factors and average trip distance all broke records during last year’s third quarter, according to statistics compiled by Washington, D.C.-based The Velocity Group for the Regional Airline Association.
Boone County, Kentucky
A private mediator joined contract negotiations between Comair and its 1,500 pilots last month as part of a tentative settlement that saw the airline move the date on which it threatened to unilaterally impose pay cuts from December 30 to February 2. A new schedule of negotiations called for meetings on January 8, January 15 to 19 and January 29 to February 1 in Washington, D.C., and January 25 to 26 in Los Angeles.
At last report Comair first officer James Polehinke still didn’t recall his abrupt and tragic entry into the ranks of this year’s newsmakers. Unfortunately for the 44-year-old resident of Margate, Fla., his lack of memory hasn’t made the knowledge that 49 other people died in the crumpled and charred hulk of the Bombardier CRJ100 he piloted any less painful.
An NTSB safety recommendation issued last week that calls for airline pilots to cross-check heading references ends with a notation from Safety Board member Kathryn O’Leary Higgins that highlights its failure to include Part 91 and Part 135 operators.
Comair’s operating procedures did not include any written guidance specific to runway identification for takeoff before Flight 5191 crashed and burned in a field off Lexington Blue Grass Airport on August 27, despite a 1989 NTSB recommendation that called for the FAA to ensure that the manuals of all Part 121 operators require runway cross checks, said the Board in a new safety recommendation to the FAA last month.
Comair’s Cincinnati maintenance and repair facilities received FAA approval to perform third-party heavy maintenance on other airlines’ 50- and 70-seat Bombardier CRJs, making it one of nine Part 145 CRJ repair stations in the U.S. and potentially softening the blow of a major cut in Delta Connection flying.
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.
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.
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 giant sucking sound generated by the bankruptcies of two of the largest airlines in the U.S. echoed last month through the financial community and across the air transport industry, including the regional airline sector. Among Delta’s various partners, wholly owned Comair stands to feel the most profound repercussions because it now too operates under Chapter 11 protection.