A Sky Regional E175 at Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport.
As ALPA’s newest pilot group, Sky Regional pilots joined the Association in late November 2018, bringing nearly 300 pilots on board. Their arrival came after an overwhelming majority of the pilots, who provide regional service for Air Canada Express, filed membership cards with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) in October, seeking ALPA representation. The CIRB officially certified ALPA as the Sky Regional pilots’ labour representative on November 16.
The pilots are now focusing on the ALPA membership drive and establishing permanent pilot representatives. The group’s interim Master Executive Council (MEC) leaders are Capt. Eisa Emami, chair; F/O Matthew Stubbs, vice chair; and Capt. Chris Noseworthy, secretary-treasurer.
“Joining our Air Canada Express family of fellow ALPA pilots brings us closer to improving the state of our industry through a united front,” said Emami. “Union membership also brings Sky Regional pilots access to the Association’s vast resources, from aeromedical advisors and insurance benefits to our world-class safety structure.”
After getting the union structure up and running, the focus for Sky Regional pilots will turn to negotiating their first collective agreement under the Canada Labour Code. On December 10, 2018 the group sent Sky Regional management a notice to bargain.
“Our priorities are safety, pay, working conditions, benefits, and job security,” Emami said. “Sky Regional management has indicated that it wants to embark upon a friendly, collaborative, and positive relationship when we go into negotiations. We believe this is a realistic and achievable goal. Our interim MEC is currently working with management toward a smooth transition by gathering data and files, including current grievances.”
Sky Regional began operations in 2010 as an Air Canada Express carrier using a fleet of Bombardier Q400s. The company added 15 Embraer E175s, which were transferred from Air Canada, in 2013 and five more in 2016. By 2017, due to growth and expanded flying, the carrier discontinued operating its fleet of Q400s. The same year, Air Canada showed its confidence in the regional carrier with a 10-year extension to their already existing capacity purchase agreement.
Today, with more than 650 employees in Toronto, Ont., and Montréal, Qué., and hubs at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Sky Regional operates 25 Embraer 175s, flying to 24 destinations in Canada and the U.S.
And more growth is on the horizon. This past August, Sky Regional announced a partnership with Winnipeg, Man.-based Vanguard Air Care, making it the first carrier to join Sky Regional’s new Sky Path pilot career pathway program. In September, Thunder Airlines followed suit. According to Sky Regional, all of the pilots enrolled in the program will become first officers. Sky Regional pilots have indicated their support for the program as long as safety remains at the forefront.
“We look forward to building a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with management—a relationship that’s based on clear and fair practices, accountability, innovation, and inspiration,” observed Emami. “This is the formula for which we envision successful bargaining and invite the company to the table.”