Loses Three Planes For Each Month Pilots Don't Have New
Pinnacle Airlines Corp. said Monday that they missed a March 31
new contract deadline with its pilots. However, in a statement,
Pinnacle said that it plans to continue negotiations with its
The company further detailed it could lose up to 17 aircraft it
received from Northwest Airlines Corp. due to a deal the carrier
reached in December 2006. This deal stipulated Pinnacle was to have
reached an agreement with its pilots by March 31, 2007.
Phil Reed, Pinnacle's vice president of marketing, acknowledged
Monday that by missing Northwest's labor-deal deadline, Northwest
"has the right to take back three aircraft per month."
"Although I am extremely disappointed we have not reached an
agreement, tremendous progress has been made and I appreciate the
hard work of the pilots' negotiating committee to move these
discussions forward," said Pinnacle CEO Philip H. Trenary.
"Reaching an agreement is important to all."
In December, Northwest reached a long-term services agreement
for Memphis-based Pinnacle to operate 124 Canadair Regional Jets
(CRJs), which seat 50 passengers. The agreement further stated that
Pinnacle could fly 17 additional 50-seaters for Northwest, but the
big airline would have the option of removing those airplanes if
Pinnacle didn't negotiate a new agreement with its pilots union by
Northwest may have a perfect home for the removed aircraft. The
airline is expected to close its purchase of Mesaba in the coming
weeks, and the Minnesota-based regional carrier already has federal
certification to fly the 50-seat jets now operated by Pinnacle.
Pinnacle employs about 1,200 pilots. Recently, Reed said,
Pinnacle has had to cancel some flights for lack of flight crews
because so many Pinnacle pilots have left the carrier to accept
jobs elsewhere. "Pilots are not getting cheaper in the regional
industry," said Gordon, who added that 30 to 40 Pinnacle pilots per
month have left for other carriers.
Currently, there are 16 pilots on Mesaba's payroll tasked with
flying one 50-seat CRJ for Northwest. Two years ago, Mesaba geared
up to operate 15 of the CRJs, but Northwest halted delivery of
those planes after Northwest filed for bankruptcy. In 2005, Mesaba
President John Spanjers estimated his carrier's workforce would
grow by 300 people to accommodate the new flying.
Now, Mesaba is getting ready to take delivery of three dozen
CRJs that seat 76 passengers. Mesaba will be Northwest's sole
operator of the 76-seat aircraft.
The cockpits for the 50-seat and 76-seat CRJs are similar, and
the pilots who fly them get the same license from the Federal
Aviation Administration. So it would not be difficult for Mesaba to
shift pilots from one CRJ model to another.
"Mesaba, like any other regional airline with certification for
CRJs, is competition," said Pinnacle's Reed.