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Fred Buttrell's memo to CMR employees

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Well-known member
Aug 9, 2003
Here is Fred Buttrell's memo to CMR employees regarding the CVG cuts.


Today, Delta announced it is right-sizing the Cincinnati hub as part of its ongoing transformation plan to return the company to long-term viability. As Delta has done previously with its other hubs, it is now making changes for the December schedule to better match service to local passenger demand and more evenly balance the amount of local and connecting traffic in Cincinnati.

The changes will eliminate the incremental, off-peak flying done early in the morning, late in the evening and short out-and-back trips between bigger banks. That incremental flying improves aircraft utilization but does not generate revenues sufficient to support those operations, especially given current fuel prices.

Specifically, the changes announced today involve:

Re-sizing CVG to align with local customer demand, resulting in a 26 percent capacity reduction. The new schedule, which goes into effect December 1, calls for 34 fewer mainline departures per day, and 123 fewer DCI departures (including 87 flights flown by Comair);

Reducing reliance on connecting traffic and boosting the mix of local traffic on every flight from 36 percent to nearly 50 percent; and

Developing a new CVG schedule that shortens the operational day, consolidates demand to fewer frequencies but keeps flight options in customers' preferred travel times.

Across the Comair network, total departures will be reduced by more than 14% and 5,000 block hours, without reduction of aircraft. As a result, our initial estimates indicate up to 350 Comair people could be impacted, primarily in Flight Operations, Inflight and some Customer Services Field locations and operational support areas.

These decisions are never easy. As the schedule is finalized over the next few weeks, we will make every effort to minimize the employee impact through a number of measures, including attrition, relocation and leaves of absence. For those affected, we will have more details on employee options in the coming weeks. We will also immediately implement a hiring freeze in certain operational areas as we evaluate our current staffing levels.

We've come a long way since the beginning of the year. Since January, we have signed Letters of Agreement with ALPA and the IBT, signed a new contract with the IAM, dramatically improved our Department of Transportation rankings for on-time and customer complaints, improved the service and appearance of our aircraft and opened new crew and maintenance bases.

While it's always regrettable when changes impact our company and our people, these are difficult and necessary. Keep in mind:

CVG remains Delta's second largest hub, Comair remains the largest carrier in terms of flights in CVG and a valuable part of the Delta network;

We maintain our large presence in the critically important focus cities of Boston, Washington, D.C. and New York's JFK and LGA, and provide most of the service options to the regional markets in the northern states;

Comair people continue to handle aircraft in field stations with DCI and mainline activity, including cities where there are no Comair flights.

Going forward, we must continue to stay focused on operational integrity, customer service excellence and a winning growth strategy. To survive, we must also become one of the low-cost providers of Delta Connection flying. Doing that will give us the opportunity to secure a winning growth strategy while helping Delta our partner and parent company at the same time.

The leadership team and I are committed to keeping an open and honest dialogue with you as we work through the challenges before us. I encourage you to stay engaged by reading company communications and asking questions of your leadership team at every opportunity. You can find additional information about today's announcement in the attached Delta press release and Comair-specific Q&As. Additional information is also posted on EPIC and will be available in an updated President's Message later today.

I look forward to seeing you in the operation, and as always, thank you for your continued efforts to help us fly, serve and win.

You forgot to highlight this important part of the memo:

To survive, we must also become one of the low-cost providers of Delta Connection flying.

Slash and burn....how low can you go.
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Nearly 100 lost flights here will be Comair's
Airline faces loss of 350 jobs; analyst says sale unlikely now

By James Pilcher
Enquirer staff writer

In recent years, when Delta Air Lines would shrink its operations either at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport or other locations, its regional subsidiary Comair either would not be affected or would grow by picking up the slack.

But not this time.

When Delta on Wednesday cut 26 percent of its total capacity out of the Cincinnati hub, the Erlanger-based airline was not spared. It will lose nearly 100 flights from its local operation - and potentially up to 350 jobs total.

In a memo to workers, Comair president and chief executive officer Fred Buttrell said the cuts would come from areas ranging from pilots to flight attendants to customer service and support staff.

"While it's always regrettable when changes impact our company and our people, these are difficult and necessary," Buttrell wrote in the memo, which also announced a hiring freeze. "These decisions are never easy. As the schedule is finalized over the next few weeks, we will make every effort to minimize the employee impact through a number of measures, including attrition, relocation and leaves of absence."

Comair employs about 6,500 system-wide, including about 4,000 locally. That total number is up from just over 5,500 two years ago.

With more than 400 flights, the airline that began as a small father-and-son operation in 1977 also operates the most departures locally. But those departures are going from 401 to 314 on Dec. 1.

The moves probably put off any immediate sale of Comair, one expert said.

Rumors have swirled about a potential sale for nearly a year and flared up once again last month when Delta sold sister regional subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines to Utah-based SkyWest for $450 million. Delta bought Comair for $2.3 billion in January 2000.

"It doesn't mean that Comair will never be sold, it just mean it won't happen right now," said Helane Becker, airline analyst with New York-based The Benchmark Group. "They just have too much going on to be sold."

According to information filed by Comair with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Comair turned a $4.9 million operating profit on operating revenue of $310.6 million in the first quarter of 2005. But the airline had the second-highest costs per passenger among major regional carriers nationally.

Comair officials would not discuss those financial figures but said the operational cuts could lead to even higher costs per operation. That's because the moves decrease the amount of time Comair's planes can spend in the air by nearly an hour per day on average.

"When you apply that across our entire fleet, essentially that puts pressure on our costs," spokesman Nick Miller said.

He said that includes labor costs. Earlier this year, Comair won concessions from its 1,900-member pilot union, which agreed to a pay freeze. In addition, the 1,000-member flight attendant union agreed to a lower pay scale for new hires.

But those are tied to growth targets for both increased jobs and number of planes.

"We'll have to address that, and we'll have to be very up front about the seriousness of the challenges we face," said Miller. "We have to continually look at every area of the company to achieve those cost savings."

But J.C. Lawson III, chairman of the Comair pilot union, said he has not been officially approached about more concessions. He also said the agreement included a no-furlough clause. In addition, the amended contract calls for the reinstatement of scheduled raises if the growth figures are not met.

"But I would say that the mood (at the company is) not somber," said Lawson, whose union is a local branch of the Air Line Pilots Association. "You would've had to have been in a hole someplace not to know that there are problems. We're going to have to figure out how to deal with them. So the mood is not upbeat, but certainly it's not like this is the end. It could have been way worse."

Representatives with the flight attendant union - a branch of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters - did not return calls seeking comment.

E-mail [email protected]

no pilot furloughs, at least until BK. Gotta love that LOA.

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