Northwest Airlines will have to add a third regional partner if it wants more 50-seat jets for its Northwest Airlink division, according to an agreement with its pilots to limit the number of regional jets it leases to Pinnacle and Mesaba Airlines.
Delta Air Lines
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.
Pinnacle Airlines bought Manassas, Va.-based Colgan Air for $20 million last month. The deal gives Memphis-based Pinnacle, which has flown exclusively for Northwest Airlines during its entire existence, immediate access to code-share revenue from Colgan partners Continental Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
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.
Shareholders of Mesaba Airlines parent MAIR Holdings last month accused Northwest Airlines of a conspiracy to suppress the value of its regional affiliate in preparation for a planned buyout.
A new code-share contract with Northwest Airlines (NWA) will allow Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines to keep its fleet of 124 Bombardier CRJs, potentially fly 76-seat jets and enter code-share deals with other major airlines. Under the 10-year deal, Northwest will also assign Pinnacle another 17 CRJ200s and/or CRJ440s by the end of the year.
Big Sky Airlines will fly eight 19-seat Beech 1900Ds from Boston starting early in the year’s second quarter under a new code-share contract the Billings, Mont.-based regional signed with Delta Air Lines in late December.
Delta Air Lines last month signed a letter of intent with Bombardier to acquire as many as 60 CRJ900s to deploy with its Delta Connection regional affiliates from Atlanta, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and New York. A firm order, still subject to bankruptcy court approval, would call for 30 of the airplanes in a two-class, 76-seat configuration, and likely accompany an option for another 30 airplanes.
Although declining from providing revenue figures, Delta AirElite president and CEO Michael Green said the Cincinnati-based charter and management company “is having a record year,” with a 38-percent gain in revenue flight hours over last year. He attributed much of the increase to the company’s introduction of its Fleet Membership jet-card program in February 2003. The company has also increased its charter/management fleet to 19 jets.
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.