Now that the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have passed their respective FAA funding bills for FY2004, it’s anyone’s guess when the conference committee charged with hammering out a compromise reaches a consensus.
Mesa Air Group
United Airlines completed a series of moves last month that signaled not only its intention to embark on a large-scale expansion of its regional network, but perhaps a willingness to play “hard ball” with its long-time United Express affiliate, Sterling, Va.-based Atlantic Coast Airlines.
Unable to convince the Air Line Pilots Association to accept further regional-airline scope-clause concessions, US Airways has converted its firm order for 25 Bombardier CRJ705s to positions for 70-seat CRJ700s and assigned the airplanes to Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group.
Ask an airline executive to rank the most frustrating aspects of his job, and labor relations will more often than not top the list, particularly at a time of massive layoffs and salary reductions. Of course, some airlines experience more success than others in maintaining relatively positive relationships with their employees.
United Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SkyWest Airlines to operate select portions of the company’s United Express service. The MOU, announced June 10, signals an 11-year relationship that includes a new rate structure and allows for more airplanes to be added to the United Express fleet. It also calls for SkyWest to operate a total of 140 aircraft.
Atlantic Coast Airlines in late May reached terms with Bombardier Aerospace on a revised delivery schedule for the remaining 42 CRJ200s on firm order after code-share partner United Airlines won a restraining order to prevent the Sterling, Va.-based regional from terminating its United Express contract.
Last month’s ratification of a cost-cutting deal by the 1,400 pilots of Air Canada Jazz could set the country’s regional airline industry on an entirely new course if management succeeds with a reorganization plan centered on a broader scope of operation for the Air Canada regional subsidiary.
United Airlines last month asked a judge overseeing its bankruptcy case for permission to end the code-sharing and marketing agreement with regional carrier Great Lakes Aviation. According to a UAL spokesman, the request is “essentially procedural” and does not mean UAL rejects out of hand Great Lakes as a code-sharing and marketing partner.
Chinese regional carrier Kun Peng Airlines has placed an order for five Embraer 190s in a deal that further sets the foothold the Brazilian manufacturer has gained in mainland China.
For years major airline executives have recognized their regional affiliates’ potential to take a more active role in serving markets that until recently occupied the exclusive domain of mainline operations. But limited labor resources and influential pilot unions curbed efforts to penetrate the artificial barrier between mainline and regional flying.