The decision by US Airways and United Airlines to test the scope-clause language in their pilot contracts after September 11 appeared fully vindicated last month, as both airlines’ Air Line Pilots Association chapters agreed to withdraw their force majeure grievances during negotiations aimed at resuscitating the ailing major carriers.
US Airways’ campaign to reverse its course toward financial ruin began exactly where new CEO David Siegel promised last month, as the company confirmed its intention to proceed with a series of initiatives aimed at developing its competitive position in the regional airline segment. Perhaps most significantly, it confirmed its plans to reactivate the operations of its idle Potomac Air subsidiary under the name MidAtlantic Airways.
Almost immediately after US Airways’ emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late March, company CEO David Siegel told reporters that the company would place an order for 100 regional jets for MidAtlantic Airways, its new Pittsburgh-based regional unit slated to begin service during this year’s fourth quarter.
Continental Airlines and Brazil’s Embraer last month agreed to defer deliveries on 60 fifty-seat ERJ-145XRs jets by as much as two years, sending stock prices of both companies sharply downward. According to the new schedule, Embraer will deliver to ExpressJet 36 aircraft instead of 48 in 2003 and 21 aircraft instead of 36 in 2004.
America West’s decision to close its hub in Columbus, Ohio, has forced it to sever its relationship with code-share partner Chautauqua Airlines. Between early April and mid-June, America West will gradually downsize the hub to a planned four mainline flights per day, a development that freed Chautauqua’s 12 Columbus-based Embraer ERJ-145s to fly as Delta Connection, starting April 1.
CommutAir’s flight operations department accelerated preparations last month for a major expansion scheduled to start March 16 in Cleveland, where the Plattsburg, N.Y.-based Continental Connection affiliate plans to nearly double its capacity by year-end with 12 new destinations.
The sagging market valuations of airlines across the U.S. since September 11 have prompted Continental Airlines to reconsider plans to spin off its wholly owned regional subsidiary into an independent entity. As a result, the airline has postponed its planned initial public stock offering of ExpressJet from parent company Continental Airlines until market conditions warrant renewed consideration of such a move.
In the wake of a first quarter that saw his airline’s operating margins cut by more than half from a year earlier, ExpressJet CEO Jim Ream didn’t see much point last month in revealing traffic figures for the company’s new branded operation. But in case anyone held out hope that things went better than expected, Ream didn’t just let the omission speak for itself. “The markets are thin,” he said.
This year’s RAA Convention couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time and place for Memphis, Tenn.’s hometown airline. The proud new owner of a second operating subsidiary and revamped service contract with Northwest Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines has officially shed the manacles of a highly restrictive code-share deal and joined the open market for regional services.
The winter storm that stranded thousands of travelers throughout the Northeast in the middle of February didn’t put a damper on this year’s annual Women in Aviation International (WAI) conference. In fact, a record 3,200 people attended the event, held February 15 to 17 at the Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla. Conference organizers say they received just 127 cancellations.