January 24, 2006

Capt. Woerth Forms “Fee-For-Departure Task Force” 

ALPA has unveiled a new initiative in its long fight to protect the wages and work rules of express pilots--a Fee-For-Departure Task Force.

Like their counterparts who fly for legacy carriers, ALPA pilots who fly for express carriers have regularly met and shared information during the last several years in a coordinated effort to protect their rates of pay and work rules. As capacity in the 50-seat jet market has grown to exceed demand, this group now faces a new and difficult challenge from their managements.

Much of the flying that express pilots perform is done under so-called “fee-for-departure.” Under this type of agreement, a mainline carrier agrees to pay the express partner a fixed fee for each flight serving the mainline carrier. Recently, several mainline carriers have put out requests for proposals “inviting” express carriers throughout the industry to bid for the right to partner for them. The flying goes to the express carrier willing to fly for the lowest fee per departure.

To secure a piece of this shrinking pie, many express carriers, arguing that they need relief to compete for the right to partner with a legacy carrier, have sought concessions from their pilot groups. The result is a brutal race to the bottom for employees.

In light of managements’ attempts to whipsaw one pilot group against another, leaders from several express carrier pilot groups recently concluded that ALPA needed to devise specific strategies to vigorously resist these pressures. In response, ALPA's president, Capt. Duane Woerth, last week formed a “Fee-For-Departure Task Force” and charged it to develop recommendations for an effective strategy to resist unreasonable demands for concessions and to maintain minimum standards for rates of pay among express carrier pilot groups.

The members of the Fee-For-Departure Task Force are

“The same disruptive demand for concessions that occurred to Air Wisconsin, Atlantic Coast, and Mesa after United entered into bankruptcy three years ago is happening now at Delta and Northwest and their express partners,” explained Capt. Woerth. “With Comair in bankruptcy with Delta, and Mesaba in bankruptcy because of Northwest, the pressure is rising.”

“Pinnacle and Atlantic Southeast are directly affected, but Continental has threatened Express Jet, and American Eagle management won’t sit back as the feeding frenzy begins,” Capt. Woerth continued. “Every pilot--express and mainline pilots alike--has a stake in this fight. If we pull together and refuse to be pitted against each other, as management is attempting to do, we will succeed in protecting the pay and work rules that our profession deserves.”