Northwest Airlines won approval from the DOT in late September to launch Compass Airlines, a new wholly owned regional subsidiary to which Northwest plans to assign at least 36 Embraer E175s. Northwest bought the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the operation from the defunct Independence Air and wants to use it to launch service with a single CRJ200 between Minneapolis and Washington Dulles Airport.
Delta Air Lines
Comair reached concessionary labor agreements with its mechanics and flight attendants late last month, but at press time a deal with its pilots continued to elude the Cincinnati-based regional, a major portion of whose route network stands subject to outsourcing by Delta Air Lines to independent carriers.
The union representing the pilots of SkyWest Airlines regional airline subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines on October 13 began picketing the long-time union-free parent company at its St. George, Utah headquarters. At press time, the sides remained far apart on demands for what the union calls a “moderate” wage increase and work rule improvements.
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.
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.