For Seven Years, a Gift Has Remained Wrapped

Every year during the holidays, the pilots of Air Wisconsin have taken to the skies to fly their passengers to their destinations, whether a scenic vacation to a remote locale or home with family and friends. They often exchange gifts early in the season because they know they will be on a work trip long before. But sometimes, those presents remain wrapped under the tree until after the holidays.

In the case of a working agreement for Air Wisconsin’s pilots, it has been more than seven years since the opening negotiations began.

The past year has seen a remarkable milestone for the airline, especially the capacity purchase agreement with United Airlines ensuring a continuation of Air Wisconsin into the future and a return to serving the Midwest.

Other airlines, however, have been making historic agreements with their pilots. A recent example is the pilots at Endeavor Air (a competitor of Air Wisconsin) agreed to a contract that would make them the highest-paid pilots in the fee-for-departure segment.

Meanwhile, the pilots have been in negotiations with the airline’s management team since October 2010, and the most recent mediated talks have failed once again to produce an acceptable agreement.

The bar is being raised, along with contract expectations, for all regional airline pilots.

Without a new contract, a steady stream of Air Wisconsin pilots are leaving for other airlines. The pilot group, which once consisted of more than 800 pilots, has dwindled to just over 500 pilots. Attracting new pilots could become even harder if management remains unwilling to offer clear economic gains that pilots can recognize and appreciate.

“It’s time for management to offer a contract with economic gains the pilots can clearly understand and recognize. Nearing a decade of continuous contract negotiations is unreasonable,” said Capt. Chris Suhs, chairman of ALPA’s Air Wisconsin group. “The market is rapidly changing, the industry is on the move, and competition in the pilot labor market is heating up. Air Wisconsin must recognize these new realities and come back to the table with an offer for its current and future pilots.”

Categories: Pilot Groups
Tags: Air Wisconsin;