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Freedumb Air, Just don't do it!!

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Well-known member
Jul 4, 2002
Public service announcement. Folks, Freedom Air is getting up and running, possibly hiring off the street soon. I want to try and explain a few things about how detrimental going to such an operation is. Freedumb was the brainchild of Mesa Air CEO Johnathan Ornstein as an attempt to circumvent Mesa pilots in the quest to get their industry bottom contract improved upon. America West (HP) has a contract to place 70/90 seat jets in their Express operation with Mesa. It is VERY important to Mesa, Ornstein and HP to get those planes in the air, the money to be made is HUGE (two 700's are already sitting in PHX.) Mesa managers tried to get our MEC to agree to some insultingly low wages to keep these planes on Mesa's certficate, of course, the MEC said try again. Mesa's response was a ENTIRELY NEW non-union airline to get around our contractual language that would have provided our MEC with tremendous leverage, for our ongoing Sec 6 negotiations. Ornstein has offered 12% over our already low 50 seat rate and a host of embarassingly low bennies, first to current Mesa pilots. The vast majority of our 1300 pilots have wisely passed, but a few,(around 20 or so LIFERS) have taken them up on the offer. The 250 hour FO's will come from MAPD/PACE program who, after spending 50 grand or so, won't be able to say no thanks. This attempt to get around ALPA has opened the first salvo in the battle for the immediate future of your profession. Going to Freedumb is confirming what managers already belive, mainly that around 15% of all pilots would sell their grandmothers to fly, regardless of the negative impact for the rest of us. The industry is already replacing 737/717etc flying with RJ's ie Delta Express 732's and USAir's F100/737's. Don't support giving the biggest boost in pilot productivity in since WWII away at such low rates. The future is now and the trend is clear, it appears all that is left is the price. Please don't do it for so little, giving it away now will take yeaaars to recoup. Please remind people looking for a flying job what has traditionally happened to people who support circumventing the established process, AND selling out the profession. Times are tough, I know, but please spread the word the Freedumb Air is bad news. PS Our MEC has successfully pushed through a Single carrier status for Mesa, CCAir, controlled by Ornstein, wouldn't going BACK to Mesa after going to Freedumb be interesting???PSS If you want to know about Ornstein in his stock broker days, Refer to Forbes magazine, around 9 APR 99 "Can a Lepoard Change his Spots" to get the low down on how he has been banned from trading...Can you say the new Lorenzo or is it the New Ivan Boesky? or Carl Ichan?
The sad fact is that I bet they could find pilots who are willing to pay to fly these jets. They are hiring flight attendants to.

Here's a link to the article:

Freedom is a bad idea although some do support it. They say ALPA has done nothing for them at Mesa and want to fly for a non-union outfit. If that is the case then go to someplace like Skywest where the wages are better. ALPA may not be perfect but I know they have improved things over the years at Mesa.

I feel sorry for the PACE folks who might be forced into these aircraft.

- AZPilot
That's part of what I have been saying.

ALPA's treatment of the regional pilot is coming home to roost. They thought they were protecting Big Iron jobs, and instead they have fostered a new cancer for the body of aviation.
Great post china clipper. The problem is that there are many young people out there who see freedom air as a way to get some quick jet pic and then move on to AA, Ual, etc. What they don't realize is that they are destroying the very jobs they want to get a leg up on by proving to airline management that pilots are not inherently worth anything when you can find hundreds of them that will fly a 70 seat jet for Wal Mart wages. Talk about lowering the bar. Ornstein probably laughs himself to bed every night at the thought of us working our a$$es off for 30k a year.

Az pilot: Just to clarify something, as far as I understand Alpa national does not determine what pay rates mesa gets. If you are dissapointed in them then look to your own mec who negotiated the rates and fellow pilots that let them get away with it. Alpa merely provides resources to failitate your own bargaining.
Freedom Air

Everyone concerned should read both volumes of Flying the Line and Hard Landing by Thomas Petzinger, Jr. to gain a perspective of this issue.

As they say, history repeats itself. Mr. O, say "hello" to Frank and Dick (Ferris). Don't forget about your old buddy and ancestor, E.L. Cord. No doubt about it, Mesa will find pilots to fly these aircraft. As we know, there is no pilot shortage (of course, Kit will disagree!!). My G-d, not counting the furloughees, there are enough pilots available to staff several airlines.
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You are right on, it will only take time. They will try to continue to lower the bar, wether airline (major) pay is too high is another conversation, but many will continue to look for the lowest bidder, you can see that now, compnaies like Eagle are having their jets given to other carriers who will fly for less (not blaming the pilots over at connection either). As the pay and benefits are rasied at the Comairs and ACAs to where they sould be and what they deserve you will find another bunch of airlines ready to undercut them.

Freedom Air IS a cancer to all of us, you have that right on the money, but you do have choice if you fly for them or not. I went through this very expensive training course and now they are making me fly a 90seat jet for $20 bucks an hour, sorry I have to do it. BS. Excuses are like A$$holes, every one has one..

That article was pretty interesting. He seems to have completed the turnaround by both cutting and growing depending on when the opportunities are available. Of course, the article is one-sided and the source is usually very complimentary to Execs. Sure was an interesting spin to those charges at the end of the article; "My problem was that when a client lost money, I felt so bad that I would do anything to try and make it back for him."
Too funny, although I doubt his bosses at those firms were laughing when he was fired. I'll bet MESA is a real stickler for RULES in contracts being followed by pilots.

On another note, does anyone here know anything about the legality in employment law of either routing all new flying to a startup or continually shutting down operations and starting up new company's to circumvent union contracts? I don't know J-A-C-K about that issue. Based on all I read here, Ornstein seems to be leading the charge in this area and other than some costs involved I don't see why this couldn't be accomplished every time contracts are up? Seems as if it might cost quite a bit but if a company does it once, why wouldn't they do it more than once?

Mr. I.
azpilot said:
The sad fact is that I bet they could find pilots who are willing to pay to fly these jets. They are hiring flight attendants to.

Here's a link to the article:

- AZPilot

"Why? A lengthy disciplinary record charging unauthorized trading, misrepresentation, document alteration and churning. Eventually, Ornstein was fined $20,000 and suspended as a broker for three years.

Can a leopard change its spots? Radical transformations are not common, but they do happen. There seems to have been one here."

Doesn't sound like he has changed his spots to me. Anything less than 29% plus 50 seat pay would be an insult.

At CHQ we get paid 12% less to fly the 140 with 6 fewer seats. Same aircraft and type but less pay because it has 12% few seats. We are fight this on out next contract. Mesa needs to set the tone for this new AC. And based on the increased seating 29% over the 50 seat pay would be fair.

If you are thinking about going to Freedom Air. You are an opportunist and will be making a big mistake. Wait until you see what the U pilots are going to make at Mid Atlantic flying the 70 seat RJ. From the Mesa pilots I talk to and what I read Ornstein seems pretty slippery. I'ld hate to not have a union and have to deal with him.
I'm not so sure about this one... As a Mesa pilot, I'd definitely be pissed at any other Mesa pilot who jumped ship. But if you're a pilot on the street looking for a job, what's the difference between going to Freedom and going to Skywest? Both are non-union carriers that will compete with other airlines for feeder business. I understand that America West would be going to another carrier for the 70 seat jets, thereby selling Mesa pilots out, but I don't beleive mesa pilots have anything in their contract to ensure that new AmWest express flying goes to them.

As a furloughed Eagle pilot, I'm not pissed at the TSA and CHQ pilots that the company has given my job to. Nor would I be pissed at a newhire at CHQ or TSA for going there even though he knows full well that he's working for a company who is stealing flying from another company's pilots. He's trying to make a buck just like I am. I'm pissed at the company for giving him a job.

I agree that Freedumb air is a wholesale sellout of Mesa pilots, and a bad idea. But I can hardly fault a pilot, especially from MAPD for persuing the opportunity. It's not scabbing, it's not crossing a picket line. It's management that deserves to be hated.

The biggest difference I can see is that freedom is being started solely to circumvent Mesa pilots who won't cave. TSA and CHQ were already operating and the pilots who were working there were unwittingly told to start flying as American Connection. You can hardly expect them to quit. But how do you all feel about a newhire who goes to fly for TSA or CHQ on the American Connection system? Isn't he just as bad as a newhire at Freedom?

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