November 20, 2006
Delta Connection Pilots Meet to Protect Profession Against Pitfalls of Bidding Wars
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Pilot union leaders from Mesa Air Group (NASDAQ: MESA), Comair, and Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA), all of which fly as Delta Connection, came together last week in Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss current issues facing them and their carriers, and to develop strategies to counter management tactics that undermine professional airline pilots.
Delta Air Lines (Other OTC:DALRQ) has requested bids for new aircraft and additional flying, and management at MAG, Comair, ASA, and SkyWest are all competing for this new business. This bidding often results in management asking pilots to take pay and benefit concessions under the premise that these cuts are necessary for the company to be competitive.
“Only by uniting the pilots of the Delta Connection Carriers and continuing a close relationship with one another will we be able to defend our working agreements and protect our profession.” said Capt. J.C. Lawson, Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman for the Comair unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), which represents the pilots. Comair, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta, is seeking a reduction in pilot wages and recently filed a motion in bankruptcy court to reject the pilots’ collective bargaining agreement. “Pilots will not engage in management’s bidding tactics. Management must find other ways to secure our future and increase revenue without breaching our contract,” Lawson said.
At the meeting, Capt. James Ackerman, head of ALPA’s unit at Mesa, supported the Comair pilots by saying, “Mesa pilots are working hard to raise standards at our carrier and we fully support our fellow Delta Connection pilots.” He added, “This meeting and this kind of collaboration is key to building a solid, cohesive union front to oppose managements that try to take advantage of bankruptcy law to the detriment of their loyal, hardworking employees.”
“We don’t want our pilots competing against each other in a bidding war,” said Capt. David Nieuwenhuis, chairman of ALPA’s unit at ASA. ASA was purchased by SkyWest more than a year ago and has been in contract negotiations with their management for more than four years. “Unity is crucial in a situation like this. We want management to know that pitting the pilots against each other will not work.” Delta’s new regional flying has yet to be awarded.
Meanwhile, US Airways recently submitted a proposal to purchase Delta for eight billion dollars in stock and cash, which may influence Delta’s RFP process. In any case, ALPA vows to be vigilant in protecting its members’ interests to the highest degree.
“ALPA will not leave pilots’ careers to chance,” said Capt. Duane E. Woerth, ALPA president. “We are applying intense scrutiny to all of these developments and will vigorously work to protect our members on all fronts.”
ALPA, founded in 1931, is the world’s largest pilot union, representing 61,000 pilots at 40 airlines in the United States and Canada, including Mesa, ASA and Comair. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contacts: Anya Piazza or John Perkinson, (703) 481-4440