Friday, February 14, 2014

The End of the Beginning

A few nights ago, on a vote of 5-4, the Master Executive Council of American Eagle's pilot union voted to reject the concessions-for-jets deal that American Airlines Group had been pursuing with the union under the threat of closing Eagle down if concessions were not approved. In rejecting the concessions, the majority cited industry conditions and forces very similar to those I laid out in my essay on the topic immediately below this post. Before the vote, the MEC had been expected to approve sending the Tentative Agreement to the wider pilot group for member ratification. Those opposed to concessions were able to convince one representative to switch his vote.

This development comes several weeks after the pilot membership at ExpressJet Airlines voted against a similar concessionary contract by an overwhelming 83%. Other recent events that may have swayed the MEC include Great Lakes Airlines shutting down their Minneapolis hub for lack of pilots, United announcing that they will close their CLE hub to alleviate staffing shortages at their regional partners, and Republic Airways' statement that they will be prematurely ending 50-seat contracts at their Chautauqua branch in order to by able to staff Embraer 175s currently coming on line for American flying. On the heels of the AE vote against concessions, Republic today announced that they have come to a tentative agreement for a new contract with their pilots after seven years (!) of negotiations. The details are not yet known but Republic stated the contract contains increased pay to help attract new pilots.

All these events are the direct result of a "pilot shortage" that is really only in its infancy - which is to say that for now, there are still plenty of qualified pilots, just not enough who are willing to work for pauper's pay. It's going to be very interesting to see how things progress. I think airline pilots and especially regional pilots will have some great opportunities along the way, and it seems like many are just awakening to this fact. I have no doubt that AAG will attempt to make good on their threat to shut Eagle down - and the Eagle MEC has said they'll try - but I think they're going to have a very hard time shifting that flying anywhere but mainline and finding pilots to fly it. Kudos to the Eagle pilots for recognizing which way the leverage is swinging.


Capt. Schmoe said...

Good on 'em. The travesty of domestic help wages to fly transport aircraft is hopefully coming to an end. The pilots deserve better, we the flying public deserve better.

The need for crash pads, RVs in the long term parking lot and crashing in the pilot's lounge will hopefully someday wane as well.

Anonymous said...

Turns out the punks in ord tried to surrender on their own. Company came back with another money grab scheme. If anyone agrees to this one, they're nuts. Decreasing pay every year, less vacation, more medical costs. Grow a set and vote NO guys, that flowthrough lie is something we've heard before and this is just another lie from Pedro the rich porker.