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.
Delta Air Lines
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.
Embraer and Bombardier each collected significant orders late last month for their respective regional jets, the Brazilian manufacturer from Saudi Arabian Airlines for 15 dual-class Embraer 170s and the Canadian airframe maker from Northwest Airlines for 15 fifty-seat CRJ200s. Embraer’s sale marked its first from the Middle East, a potentially lucrative market where regional networks remain largely undeveloped.
Twilight has fallen unceremoniously on the heyday of the 50-seat regional jet, and Bombardier’s October 28 announcement that it would suspend production of the CRJ200 only underscored that fact. Of course, the recent bankruptcies of Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Independence Air haven’t helped, but signs of a meltdown came long before any CRJ operators stopped deliveries or started grounding airplanes.
Mesaba Aviation won a motion it filed last month against its fellow Chapter 11 petitioner and mainline partner Northwest Airlines for withholding more service contract payments. Mesaba, which subleases its Avro RJs and part of its Saab 340 fleet from Northwest, claimed that Northwest withheld $5.2 million in retaliation for the regional airline’s suspension of lease payments–a practice allowed under U.S.
Travelers on Delta, Northwest and other airlines operating under bankruptcy protection might face longer lines, delays and fuller and less frequent flights, but it’s “business as usual” at Delta AirElite, according to a spokesman.
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.
Mesaba Airlines became the latest casualty of Northwest Airlines’ financial meltdown last month, when it followed its sole mainline code-share partner into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The move followed weeks of speculation about the effects of Northwest’s failure to pay its Airlink partners millions of dollars in flying fees and subsequent plans to remove as much as half of the seating capacity from Mesaba’s fleet.
Comair will dispose of as many as 30 regional jets and slash between 600 and 1,000 jobs as part of a plan to cut costs by $70 million a year, the company announced last month.