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American Airlines in Stalemate With Subsidiary’s Pilots

Aug 24, 2014 12:00 pm

Skift Take

American Airlines could continue to place its new and larger regional jets with regional airlines other than its own subsidiary, Envoy Air, formerly known as American Eagle, as contract talks with its pilots are going nowhere.

— Dennis Schaal

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Ron T. Ennis  / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

American Eagle has rebranded as Envoy Air, but that hasn't helped move along contract talks with the American Airlines Group. Pictured, an American Eagle jet is sprayed with deicing compound on a DFW Airport runway on Dec. 5, 2013. A winter weather storm is heading into the area, with below-freezing temperatures. Ron T. Ennis / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT


Envoy Air’s pilots union told its members that talks with management ended with no new contract agreement and the likelihood that larger regional jets will be placed with another carrier.

The regional carrier, which is wholly owned by American Airlines Group, had presented a proposal to American management last week. That proposal was rejected and American intends to find other carriers to fly the larger planes, the Airline Pilots Association’s president Bill Sprague said in a note to Envoy’s 2,700 pilots sent on Friday.

“We focused on finding solutions to guarantee that the company would re-fleet our carrier while respecting the value we provide as professionals,” Sprague said in his letter. “Identifying the core issues was easy. Finding mutually acceptable solutions was extremely difficult.”

The company and ALPA had restarted contract discussions this month and ended them Thursday as American is preparing to place new larger regional jets with a regional carrier. American has 60 new 76-seat Embraer E175 regional jets on order and has already contracted with Compass Airlines to fly 20 of the aircraft, after Envoy pilots overwhelmingly rejected a new contract last March.

“There recently were discussions with Envoy ALPA to see what could be done to make Envoy’s costs more competitive because American would like to place large regional aircraft there,” the company said in a statement. “These talks did not lead to an agreement and without a competitive pilot agreement at Envoy, American’s E175s will not be placed there.”

The 10-year contract Envoy pilots rejected last March would have frozen pay scales in exchange for providing larger regional aircraft to Envoy. The proposal also provided for pilots to be hired at American Airlines’ mainline operations over the course of the contract.

Instead of giving the 20 E175s to Envoy, American contracted with Compass and the new aircraft are being flown under the American Eagle livery. Ten other regional carriers, including its wholly owned subsidiaries Envoy, PSA Airlines and Piedmont Airlines, fly under the American Eagle brand.

Separately, American reached a new tentative agreement with its pilots at Piedmont that could possibly bring larger regional jets to Piedmont.

The agreement also provides Piedmont pilots with the opportunity to get hired at American Airlines or US Airways mainline operations. The pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, will vote on the new agreement between September 2 and September 16.

“After careful consideration and discussion, the MEC believes that the tentative agreements are in the best interest of Piedmont pilots,” the union leaders told its members on Friday afternoon.

American said it was pleased that the union leaders unanimously support the new agreement.

“The TA provides a clear path for career advancement and positions Piedmont for future success in a highly competitive industry,” American said in a statement.

Piedmont is a regional carrier that currently operates under the US Airways Express brand using 44 deHavilland DHC-8 turbo prop aircraft. It employs about 350 pilots and is headquartered in Salisbury, Maryland.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk ___

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