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MESA Airlines

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Well-known member
May 2, 2002
I have grown to respect many opinions on here so I figured I would ask for your professional opinion on this subject matter.

When I was furloughed from a WO everyone started badmouthing contract carriers, especially MESA. So instead of jumping on the bandwagon a MESA pilot pointed my to the "freemesaairlines forum" on yahoo. I ocassionally post messages there b/c of all people the CEO Ornstein is a regular on there.. so I am a regular reader.

I have a question and an observation (and if you have been in a discussion w/me previously you know I have no problem getting my hat handed to me) However if you don't mind when you answer please state what aspect of your career you are in. I.E. myself I start by saying:

Furloughed from Regional-
(the reason is that I have started to notice that our union and those who have come before us may be surprised by our viewpoints of the up and coming pilots, like myself. However my father flies for AA so I am well indoctrinated, but i fear our elders may have forgotten the road they traveled some years ago and many fledglings are going astray withouth guidance form the Father Geese out there!)
The reason I am doing this is the shocking response I received after posting this on the yahoo forum.. about the ongoing CRJ-900, 90 seat "regional" aircraft. Here is what I posted b/c there is an ongoing debate about "industry standard" on that forum.

The Post:Here are some similar sized aircraft!

Here is the pay scale for the F-100 at American:
(By the way AMR uses a formula, I am sure APA would be happy to send it to you.. based on several factors number of seats, etc.)
FO (based on 74 hrs/month)
yr1 $2,701
yr2 $5,775
yr3 $6,986
yr4 $7,140
max $8,427
yr2 $11,549
yr3 $11,643
yr4 $11,737
yr5 $11,830
max $12,486

Here is a smaller aircraft
Northwest DC-9
yr1 $2,591
yr2 $4,034
yr3 $6,972
yr4 $7,145
max $8,473
yr2 $11,526
yr3 $11,619
yr4 $11,713
yr5 $11,807
max $12,460
End of Post.

Here is my question.. do you feel these would be appropriate pay scales to look at when determining how the pilots of a 90 seat a/c should be paid? Do you feel these a/c should be flown there, why or why not? Or do you feel different sectors of aviation will be paid differently despite the equipment when doing the same job?

My observation: I went through a study of labor relations for a semester in school. We looked at why and how unioins were formed, how they have evolved and the present status of unions (looked at UAW, and USW a great deal) It seems that the pure form of the union as intended is far from the tool we are using now. However this is an industry like no other! I always like looking at the union brothers/sisters in trades, operating as intended. (Oversimplified summary about to begin) When you want to become a plumber you go serve as an apprentice. When you finish that you are certified and join the union. Whenever a company or whatnot needed a plumber they don't run an add, the go to the union. The union sends them a qualified person and tells them what is the going rate for the particular plumber with his/her expertise. Our union however is setup on the case by case instead of ALPA setting the National Rate for our profession (727, 737, 757, with appropriate seniority) I guess what I am getting at in this poorly worded post is that not only do we not have a National Professional Pilot Focus, we lack unity within our ranks from the oldest 747 driver to the 1900 FO. The young pilots entering into this profession with me are not like minded and seem too willing to think that you can give your services away to a certain point, because it will all be rectified by a job with the "majors." I don't share this viewpoint because I fear the majors may be fading as pilots retire and the major growth will be held to the National/Regional level and there will not be the future in this profession like I hoped when I set out on this journey.
I'm going to attack this from the point of view of one operating an airline with a known schedule, cost structure (minus crew pay), and revenue stream. I think I would look at how much operational margin I would generate per ASM for each type of aircraft in the fleet. I would then structure crew hourly pay relative to how many ASMs the crew could generate an hour as spread over all crews on all schedules.

If I were operating 767's internationally, they may not fly many legs, but they could sure generate a lot of ASMs in a day. A 19 passenger turboprop crew might be busting their collective tails all day long with 8 leg days not uncommon, but they would be generating comparatively few ASMs.

The next step I would take would be to apportion the income potential for a given aircraft type and further apportion it among the various crew members relative to a value I placed on each member's contribution. Of course, I would not apportion all money available to leave room for the stockholders' interests also.

I would adjust the scale to allow for growth in experience by taking away from junior members and giving it to more experienced members. If I wanted people to come and move on, I would make that adjustment relatively small. Finally I would tweak the scales to allow for variations in market forces for the various employment groups.

Since flying 50 or 70 seat CRJ (or a 757/767) is the same type, the job at hand is no different other than the ASM's being generated, I would expect to pay more for the 70 seat pilot (or 767 pilot) than the 50 seat pilot (or the 757 pilot).

Because of variations in aircraft efficiencies and contractural agreements, the pay for two pilots with the same amount of experience creating the same number of ASMs may not be the same.

Although I speak as a pilot at a regional airline, I hope that I would be able to make the same stand from anywhere in the industry.
I read something on this awhile ago on how ALPA fought the airlines back in the 1950's on deveping a standard rate for similar equiptment across the industry. ALPA feared they would lose negotiating leverage for increasing salaries if everyone was making the same. Now they can use multiple carriers to "leapfrog" each other come contract time.
The major airline pilots deserve the money and they most definately have earned the position that allows them to be compensated well- bottom line and if you don't agree with the pay scales at the regionals then move over cause their are many other aviators out there that are willing to gladly fly for that compensation without bickering, complaining, and whining (me being one of them)- money is not everything.

I cannot understand the argument, that is like saying "well the minor league baseball players do the same as the major league players B U T they should be paid/compensated just as much because its not "fair".....

IF you don't want to fly for a regional then by all means DON'T cause there are many many others out there that are willing and happy to do so.- This is somewhat unreal............. seems never ending. ! ! ! ! !

Until a regional starts flying 57's, and 67's then to me it is "not" a major airline AND not on the same pay scale for the obvious reasons....


3 5 0
Could someone please enlighten me. I believe that Southwest pays by the segment? Does a pilot make more money because he is flying a 737-800 as compared to one who is flying a 737-300? If he doesn't then this would be an argument for Ornstein wanting to pay the same rates across the CRJ's.

In response to the original question, the various mecs operate as shop unions, rather than trade unions. As mentioned, it was in ALPA's interest to not establish equipment pay rates across the board.

As soon as "major" flying decreases sufficiently, we will begin to see RJ crews making progressively better salaries. Read the article in the WSJ, 6-18-02. Southwest, Airtran, and Jetblue will grow. Others will shrink.

This is a time of industry change. There is no doubt about that. Following this period of adjustment, just as in past decades, there will be a time of relative equilibrium. At that point, salaries will reach a balance of professional standing, seat miles revenue, and market support.

Level of responsibility of the pilot on the regional level is the exact same as the level of responsibility of the pilot on the major level.. both pilots have the same consequences for their mistakes, our licenses look the same, our paychecks are drastically different. You help me prove my statement 350 driver. We (pilots on the regional level) are talking about flying 90 SEAT JETS, and being paid LESS than flying the previous/current equipment (Saab's, Dash's, etc.) we are flying!

The CEO's have realized (or at least think they have) that experience isn't as important as it used to be.. They look at safety records at see no difference between us fledglings at the regional level (I am stereotyping) and the pilots at the major level, however the greatest thing they see is a declining bottom line! They can have guys fly 90 SEAT JETS and pay them less and less and less because (and I quote)
"if you don't agree with the pay scales at the regionals then move over cause their are many other aviators out there that are willing to gladly fly for that compensation without bickering, complaining, and whining (me being one of them)- money is not everything. " -350 driver, of this exact attitude... it is running rampid!

Andy Neil in a previous post brought up pay based on ASM's, and according to AA he is right, that is the biggest variable of the equation when they determine pay (obviously more seats=more ASM's) MESA guys/gals speak up.. what has JO told you about the payscales for the 700 & 900's?

I think Timebuilder said it right! "As soon as "major" flying decreases sufficiently, we will begin to see RJ crews making progressively better salaries." In the meantime I guess we are all just along for the ride.. or we can let them know we see whats happening and demand a comparable contract to fly a 90 SEAT JET.
Good point. The problem as I see it is that pilots are only too willing to dilute the proffession in order to get experience. The downside of that is that all these low ball carriers thrive at the expense of the decent paying airlines and as a result there won't be many good airline jobs out there if things don't change. I don't think there should be a single airline job that pays less than 60k a year. For god sakes bus drivers make more than we do!
B1900D FO

Since I doubt that you are getting $60/hr as a 1900FO, would you be one of those that you say are diluting the profession?

If your company paid the crew at LEAST $120/hr, would it be making money? Is it making money at your current rates? Most 1900 operators are not.

Crank up ticket prices you say? Do that and customers will go away and there will be even more pilots on the street. Do you want to rethink what you said?
The fare sysytem

I am a major advocate (from my management days) that the fare system is screwed up. I know I am repeating myself to say our problem in this industry is a revenue problem, no mattter how you look at it.. Cutting costs of any kind (labor, etc.) are a response by management to fix the problem. I disagree with this inappropriate response all together. Creativeness to find new revenue means, and less non-frontline labor (less management.. how novel) are unattempted solutions. Labor is just an easy target.

The cycles that we go through are perfect examples
of the roads management takes us down, intentional "fire fare sales" that they hope to redeem during peak periods later in the year. I'll give you a prime example of where the current system fails. Our biggest customer is the business traveler... that is who pays top dollar for the tickets.. Well I would challenege you to call
reservations within a few days of travel and get a ticket price
quote like most businesses attempt.. That is why the business men and women are flying on fractionals or not flying at all.. Flying the airlines is no longer affordable for them. We are loosing are customer base and no-one cares... its about advance sales through the internet at peanut prices.. We don't have a middleground for tickets. We need to go back ten years and look at the way we priced our services The fare system is well overdue for revamping. The businesses just can't afford to get raped to purchase the typical short notice thousand dollar fare. The Airlines have gone too far to maximize the profit from those few business tickets as the number they sell dwindles, and stupidly they continue to raise those fares as they sell less and less of them.. BAD ECONOMICS!!!

A previous poster also mentioned Kit Darby's claims of pilot shortages as faux... well reading the other thread on here about Flight instructors who can't find work is cluing me in that he may really be right! Enrollments in these pay up front (P-T-N) programs are down. Flight schools are folding up their tents. I don't think airlines will be able to ride the wave of the over abundance of pilots for very long. Disposing of a mainline a/c at Delta, to be replaced by three 50 Seat jets won't work for long. The number of pilots will be limiting in 5-10 yrs and the ATC will be back to the forefront like they were pre 9/11 talking about airspace saturation. All theses jets, despite their size, requiring the same amount of space at the flight levels even though they only carry 50 people instead of 150 people, and there is no more turboprops tooling around at the lower altitudes.. I just think the airlines short sightedness will bite them again... but in a different way!

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