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90 Seat RJs - Redefining the Profession

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Active member
Nov 27, 2001
Yesterday US Airways delivered the first draft of their "plan-C" to the labor groups. The plan included 70/90 seat RJs which would "feed" the mainlin.

I'm curious what your opinion is regarding the portion of the plan dealing with 70/90 seat RJs and what their impact is on the profession that we all signed up for.

Its a contentious issue -- I'm aware of that. But I'm curious. The easy answer, the one you'll hear most mainline types give, is:
"The F-100 was 85 seats and it was paid for -- so why go out and buy new RJs?"

But we all know it is more complicated than that. The company wants to decrease the overall costs of flying airplanes from 50-100 seats.

So the question that we, as airline pilots, must ask ourselves is: What does this do to our profession?

Is it another "B-Scale"? Will it restrict the ability of regional airline pilots to advance in their own careers?

If 70-90 seat RJs are flown by Express carriers there is no need for aircraft such as the DC9, 717, 737-300, Airbus 318/319, Fokker F-100 etc. to be flown by the mainline.

How many FEWER mainline jobs does that create for the next generation of mainline airline pilots?

The problem, in my opinion, is that if it occurs it has blurred the line between a regional airline and a major airline. Unfortunately, that will leave the burden with the regional airline pilots and their unions to "repair" the damage that has been done to the profession.

Yes, I believe it is ALPA's fault. When the first Canadair RJ showed up at Comair, ALPA should have started campaigning for and demanding mainline compensation/benefits at the regional level. They should have been filing alter-ego grievances and demanding that the regionals be merged with their mainline counterparts.

They failed and what we're left with is an industry where its hard to tell where the major ends, and the regional begins. Airlines like Comair are major airlines in their own rights with route structures which rival some of the "traditional" majors. These are no longer feeder-companies which fly 19 people at a time from Jamestown to Pittsburgh...but rather integral parts of the airline network which have replaced the Bac-111, the DC9, the F100 etc...and, right under our noses, have done so with pilots who are unfairly saddled with lower compensation and with inferior work rules.

ALPA dropped the ball, and now -- though it is unfair -- it seems to me that it is up to the individual regionals to restore the integrity of the profession that we all signed up for.

Just my opinion. Flame away but be gentle.

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I agree 100% the only fix for this is to merge the majors and the wo'ed regionals!! and the next new hire at MEGA MAJOR AIRLINES would start in the commuter and when seniority allowed, move up to the new 797 supersonic wide body orbital super shuttle. This is the only way to protect and grow Mainline pilots while at the same time raising the standard at the regional level. Now if we can only convence the Mainline mec's to quit cutting off their noses to spite their faces maybe we could get someplace.
Fair Salary?

What is a fair salary for a 70 seat RJ Capt?
How about a 90 seat RJ Capt
How about a 110 seat RJ Capt
Should you pay a 70 RJ Capt more than a ALPA member flying the MD-80. like Spirit? More than a B-717 Capt flying for an ALPA carrier like MidWest Exp.
What is the answer?
When the Cost per seat mile of the union RJ is 20% above what a low cost carrier can operate at, will a low cost carrier with used RJ's start up in the hub bypass mode?
These new RJ are now coast to coast range
The market place will determine the equilibraum of pay verus ability to generate revenue.
B scale in the RJ's with senority to get into the bigger equip at higher wages appears to be the answer. If the wages are too high, low cost carrriers will remove that segment from the larger airlines. Why are all of the RJ operations being spun off?, because it makes economic sense. It removes all scope causes, because there are no ties that bind, and it is an open market place where contracts can be let to anyone to provide service at a contracted cost,. The low cost guy gets the business.
Re: USAirwars1149

Hi Mike
i must say i agree with you 100%.....I
It seems that ALPA has a history of, and indeed this industry that we all signed up for is littered with the human remains and carnage of lives and careers torn apart(PanAm Eastern Continental to name a few) and recked by the incoherent and in some cases reckless disregard with which some in ALPA have sort to proport their agenda in their myopic view without sitting back and analysing the Big picture. Now i realising that Corporate management on the other hand has alot of blame to share too, But it seem's kind of odd the the manner in which ALPA National, Mr. Woerth & Co. and his predecessors chose to conduct business over the years, has always been that United Delta Northwest USAir's are the only ones that matter and the rest of you guy's fight for the scraps.
Now that the Land scape and the financial reality of this new millenium have finally manifested its self. All of a sudden the regionals and their new found tool the RJ, have a new found place in their hearts. The fact is ALPA National Dropped the Ball!!they didn't take it seriously instead they tried to build a bigger fence between "the Majors & The Regionals"
For years & years the guy's & gals in the cummutors/regionals have been left to themselves without any 'Real" support from ALPA. But now have become a precious crown jewel to be sort after because of their potential and supply a resource for jobs for their own, when in times past there have been "Neumerous" attempts by these commuters some of them 'Wholly owned" to negotiate "Flow Through" agreements but because these guys & gals worked for commuters they weren't considered "Good enough"!!.
Now the ALPA USAirways Mec is trying to get its furloughed pilots jobs using the "Potomac Air" certificate but in doing so they are themselves creating a bigger devide than previously exsited,
and all this being done without any regard for the previous Potomac Air Employees, especially the pilots who were represented buy the Teamsters. How can ALPA now want to represent a pilot group which they previously turned down!! and who voted in another representative .
This situation it seems is just another of ALPA US AIRWAYS Mec & ALPA National's folked tongue approach.
Is ALPA saying that there will be no return to the main line jobs for these furloughed pliots....? IS USAirways going to remain/become a large regional? what happens to all these RJ's when the economy picks up? who will fly them?
These are all the questions that need to be answered.

Fly safe All.

Embraer is working on RJs that look like Airbuses. The first versions will be 90, 100, and 109+ seats. I believe that Boeing is teaming with Areoflot to make RJs in Russia.

Re: Re: USAirwars1149

taz said:

For years & years the guy's & gals in the cummutors/regionals have been left to themselves without any 'Real" support from ALPA.

I disagree. I was at TSA when we were about 1 hour from strike back in the summer of 2000. During the time of our negotiations, picketing and so fourth I feel that there was a lot of "support from ALPA". Not just financially either.

You make some very interesting points. And I think the point of you post was to invoke the thought process in all of us, so here goes another thought.

What is the definition of a Regional and a Major? Are we talking about the perceived definition (Jets vs. Props) or the FAA definition having to do with amount of money earned? I know most people think of the regionals as the "Prop" guys, but did not United and American once fly only props? In my opinion, the industry has to evolve and change to meet the demands of "Joe Customer." Today that demand is jet service from every airport. But this develops into the problem that the flying public for the most part is ignorant of what we do and how we do it. They do not understand that if a community only boards 15-20 people per day or has only a 5000' runway, it cannot support an RJ. This is also the problem that boarding 100-150 people per day cannot support an A320 with the rate of pay associated with mainline pilots. I don't know for sure, but I believe that first year mainline FO pay would probably pay for the entire crew on an RJ. Add to that the fact that an RJ is cheaper to operate than a larger jet, and it has become no wonder why the RJ has become very popular.

All this said, I very much agree with you on the point of where does the line get drawn between the feeder and the mainline. Will it someday become an industry where the "Expresses" fly the US routes and "Mainlines" fly over the oceans. At the rate things are going, how can you really call a company a feeder airline when they fly aircraft that are larger than mainline. I think this will end up being the industry changing pattern of the late 20th and early 21st century much like the advent of jet aircraft did in the 70's.

Once again these are only my thoughts, and I am looking forward to reading other thoughts on the subject.
I don't know for sure, but I believe that first year mainline FO pay would probably pay for the entire crew on an RJ. [/B]

Nope. Even at the two best paid majors DAL and UAL, first year FO pay wouldn't be more than an entire RJ crew. In fact prior to Contract 2000, first year pay at United was less than 2nd year RJ FO pay at ACA. Airlines like Northwest, still pay about 24,000 first year. I've heard you can make more than that in the Dash at Piedmont.
Then comes the second year at NWA and the pay goes up to around $85,000 plus. Then a NWA pilot rolls out of bed in the third year and is his/her pay goes to around $100,000 and that is for flying side-ways on a '47-200.

A DC-9 Capt. at 12 years tops out at $186,000 plus retirement. At the regional airlines a RJ Capt. tops out in year 18 at around $100,000 and zero for retirement.

I will be in line at NWA.

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