PAL Aerospace

PAL Aerospace Pilots
A Citation 550 based at Halifax Stanfield International Airport is used for charters and air ambulance service. (Photo: Capt. Jack Parlee [PAL Aerospace])

After becoming one of ALPA’s newest pilot groups in July 2020, PAL Aerospace pilots moved quickly to establish their leadership and committee structure to support the pilots and prepare for upcoming negotiations.

Among the important priorities for the group was to include a diverse and inclusive mix of pilots to establish its committee structure, given the varied and unique nature of the airline’s operations, which includes a diverse business model flying intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance along with executive charters, air ambulance, conservation and protection, and search-and-rescue operations.

The pilots were successful in building their committee structure, which includes Central Air Safety, Membership, Scheduling, Training, Negotiating, Safety/Security, Grievance, and Contract Study Committees.

Tasked with different missions, the Central Air Safety Committee works to identify and communicate pilot safety concerns to management. Unfortunately, management has been slow in addressing the potential safety concerns that the committee has brought to its attention.

The Contract Study Committee was key to the preliminary information-gathering stage prior to negotiations, which began in early 2021. Tasked with compiling information on all aspects of PAL Aerospace’s operations in preparation for contract negotiations, the group studied each clause in the PAL Aerospace collective agreement in relation to contract terms being negotiated at PAL Airlines, another Exchange Income Corporation (EIC) airline. Committee members briefed staff experts from ALPA’s Representation, Legal, and Economic & Financial Analysis Departments regarding existing contracts, pay scales, and working conditions at other EIC airlines.

Knowing that the EIC PAL Group business model puts an emphasis on providing safe, continuously reliable service, which results in positive revenue operations and increased equity for EIC stakeholders, PAL Aerospace pilots optimistically entered negotiations with the belief a deal could be reached.

“As negotiations began in early spring, we made a number of proposals regarding probation, arbitration, and leaves of absence, and it appeared that we were making progress and that tentative agreements would be reached on several fronts early on,” said Capt Jack Parlee, the pilots’ Master Executive Council chair. “However, the positive working relationship with the company was very short-lived. While some minor progress was made during our initial meetings, subsequent negotiating sessions produced little results as management was unwilling to work with us to provide stability for our pilot group and the airline.”

As the year progressed, management continued to stall any further negotiations. Only two negotiation dates were held from August through November. Despite a strong desire for more bargaining sessions, the pilot group was told the company was unavailable to meet for numerous reasons, including having a high workload due to negotiating with other EIC airlines.

The pilots believe negotiating efforts have been further hampered by the company’s so-called “inability” to adequately provide any required analytical data, including flying data for line pilots and management pilots.

With guidance from ALPA’s Representation and Economic & Financial Analysis Departments, the pilots are continuing to request the required information to move forward with negotiations in 2022 and will continue to incorporate contract language into the remaining proposals to ensure the best and safest working conditions possible for the pilot group. The pilots will also be seeking more than two negotiating days per month and, when it is safe to do so, will push for in-person meetings as opposed to the current virtual negotiations.