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New UAL scope explained by ALPA

General Lee

Well-known member
Aug 24, 2002
Total Time
A lot
This came from the "other" web board....

The JCBA Scope Story – by KC Mueller, UALMEC Domestic Code Share Chairman, Scope SME

Delta Scope or a Scope Choke? Late in the summer of 2012 it became clear the United Pilots were going to have to emulate “Delta Scope” in the JCBA. (223 76-seat jets, 102 70-seat jets [325 big 223+102] and 125 50-seat jets) for a RJ fleet total of 450. 325 big (70/76) and 125 small (50). Included in “Delta Scope” was a substantial and permanent shift in flying from the Express to the Mainline via language, plus a new small Mainlineaircraft type. Added together, “Delta Scope was truly impressive and delivered all the goals held dear by Delta Pilots”; shrinking Express and growing Mainline under a new CBA that,when it becomes amendable, will leave the Delta Pilots in a position of strength regarding Express for the next CBA cycle. But while Delta Scope answered almost all the pattern bargained deficiencies of the last 20 years, your Scope SME’s saw one soft spot. The B717 airframe was already almost 15 years old. There was one issue still left to resolve before this struggle was over:The “gap-in-gauge” @ 100 seats.

Strategically, this RJ War was always going to 100 seats and it won’t be over until we have that fight – no doubt about it. That fight wasn’t quite over at DAL. If we could capture all the best of Delta plus fix that issue, we would have ended forever the growth potential of UAX and the ability of UAX to threaten the Mainline. While much can be said of the tortured path all network pilot groups have traveled seeking to balance jobs and marketing realities surrounding the RJ the opportunity to reflect and relax will never arrive until the 100 seat jet is safely in the hands of Mainline Pilots and the War is over.

That was the set-up when we began negotiating “Delta scope” in the summer of 2012.

This challenge was coupled with another. At United there were no 76 seat RJ’s. Delta started C2012 with 120, and all the improvements and protections for the Delta Pilots didn’t start until 154 76 seat jets were on the property. How do we get from zero 76 seat jets to all that Delta agreed to while also achieving what the United Pilots deserved at the outset, namely the security that transfer of flying from UAL to UAX was inverted by the JCBA? The company was willing to agree to the “Delta” end state: 450 hulls, 325 big ( 223/102 ) and 125 small, the seat and weight limits, the shift in flying, the no-furlough clause, the mileage restriction, the retirement of the 50 seaters, but there was no clear path to the 154th 76 seat jet. After that the Delta language could be copied perfectly. But we were on our own from 0 to 154.

It is because of this the Section 1-C-1 language in the JCBA is so complex and difficult to understand. We had to invent language that would get United pilots from 0-154 76 seat jets while also getting United pilots what they deserve ( shrinking UAX ) and then overlay that language on top of the Delta language. We have two scenarios, if you will, built into our UAX language (Section 1-C-1) and the Company will ultimately decide which path we travel. What’s Important for the United Pilots to understand is…. both paths accomplish almost the same thing. The Company will either deliver “Delta Scope” in its complete form or fall into a UAX “Scope Choke”.

Since “Delta Scope” is well understood and its value to Pilots very straight forward, let’s examine the language crafted that results in the “Scope Choke”; our nickname for the event that occurs should the Company attempt to deny United Pilots the “New Narrow-body” by never flying more than 153 76-seat jets. On Jan 1, 2014, the Company obtains the right to fly 130 76-seat RJ’s inside a new limit of 255 UAX aircraft of 51-76 seats. Currently, United flies approximately 190 aircraft that meet that definition, and they have no limit. 255 – 190 = 65. Without the “New Narrow-body” being delivered to United Pilots the limit of 255 will apply for the life of the JCBA. In just over 3 years the Company has scheduled over 150 50-seat RJ retirements simply for economic reasons. The 50-seat RJ clearly represents the “fleet of the past” while the new restriction is placed on the “fleet of the future”, aircraft of 51-76 seats. Moving forward from Jan 1, 2014, while the “fleet of the past” is dying the “fleet of the future” is severely restricted. Did the Company get 130 76 seat RJ’s? Not really. 255 – 190 = 65. The Company will get 65 76 seat RJ’s if they don’t get any more Q400’s or 70 seat RJ’s but after the 65th hull they are merely exchanging a 70 seat hull for a 76 seat one. That is 6 seats net, for each 76 seat RJ after the 65th. Not the target, but collateral damage we should score.

Besides that, regardless of how the Company allocates its 255 hulls within our new restrictions the 50-seat RJ fleet is dying. With that and no other action by the Company UAX is eventually headed to a new maximum RJ fleet of 255. Contrast that with today’s UAX RJ fleet of over 500. If the Company Mainline fleet does not grow at all over the next 6 years the UAX fleet will still shrink by almost 40% just through 50-seat RJ retirements. Even without the language forcing flying from Express to Mainline being triggered (same as Delta, not effective until 154 76-seat RJ’s) we are forcing flying from UAX to the Mainline or out the door to a competitor. Without all of “Delta Scope”, being copied by the Company the UAX fleet will soon simply be too small for the Company’s marketing needs. Once this “Scope Choke” hits the Company has only one way out: Use the language within the JCBA to grow the 76-seat RJ fleet further, the step we anticipated the Company might not want to do.

That brings the 154th 76-seat jet, which brings our “New Narrow-body” the rest of 1-C-1-f and -g, and the capstone to the whole strategy. On that day, United’s Pilots will have won the RJ war - our ultimate goal. After two decades of struggle for the dividing line between “Express” and “Mainline” we will have found victory at almost the same place the fight started. The original seat limit United Pilots imposed on UAX in 1991 …..75 Seats (Feeder Scope Mod, 1991).

The UAX language within the JCBA, regardless of which path is chosen by the Company (replicating “Delta Scope” or trying to avoid it - the “Scope Choke”), insures UAX shrinks. We ( Scope SME’s ) actually predict that before the Company will buy the “New Narrow-body “ they will try one last time to avoid it by … ASKING YOU TO SELL IT BACK TO THEM. When is the last time the Company asked you to modify your Express Scope for them?

The UAX piece of the JCBA improves the pattern in pattern bargaining and either improves on Delta Scope or crushes UAX. This was our goal; develop language that recreates and compelsthe Company to replicate the Delta Express Fleet in case they have second thoughts. Either way, with this JCBA the balance of power and flying returns to our Pilots. Then, with the 100 seat jet in our hands, we cement it there.

Bye Bye---General Lee