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Old 03-06-2010, 02:50 PM   #1  
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Default UAL letter to the ed. on RJ's......BRAVO!

This is in response to “Smaller jets land bigger role at O’Hare; United, American using more regional planes, to the dismay of passengers, city” (News, Feb. 11), by Tribune reporters Julie Johnsson and Jon Hilkevitch. Over the past 30 years, much has changed in the domestic airline industry. From deregu lation to legacy carriers going through financial restructuring, air travel has been severely altered.

The changes to the airline industry are obvious to most airline workers. But what about the average passenger? Have the changes been beneficial to him or her? Yes, air travel is more affordable.

But is the average air traveler really getting what he or she thinks he or she is paying for?

Perhaps no change impacts the flying public more than the sharp increase in regional jets in the domestic airline industry. And, when the average pas senger purchases an airline ticket, that passenger may not even realize on what airline he or she is flying.

Today, when a passenger buys a ticket on United Airlines, or, for that matter, on any of the major airlines, there is a 50 percent chance that the passenger will actually be flying on an aircraft operated by one of a group of subcontractor re gional airlines, all of which are in con stant competition with each other for the right to operate under the major airlines’ franchises at the lowest possible cost.

Many of these subcontractor agreements with the franchise carrier are fee-for departure agreements — the regional carrier only gets paid when the flight departs, placing increasing economic, not safety, pressure on the departure.

In most cases the passengers have absolutely no idea that they are actually flying on another airline. The aircraft they board are painted almost identically to that of a mainline United airplane. The staff wears almost identical uniforms to their mainline counterparts.

Two questions beg to be answered: Who are flying these aircraft and what type of training have they received? By law, the regional airlines have to meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s stand ards, but those standards are minimum standards, far exceeded by the major airlines, and even by many of the re gionals. The last six fatal airline acci dents have been of regional airliners, and regrettably, the last four were found to be due to pilot error. The most recent fatal crash, in Buffalo, N.Y., last year, was of an outsourced Continental flight operated by Colgan Airlines, a regional subcon tractor.

It is not my intention to denigrate regional airline employees, who are often just as dedicated and hard-working as the employees of the major airlines. The pilots and flight attendants who perished in the Buffalo crash were just as much victims as their passengers. They were the result of a deregulated airline system that is rushing to park airplanes, lay off experienced pilots and replace them with the lowest-cost subcontractors.

Quality training and safety costs mon ey, dollars that are at odds with the eco nomically competitive fee for departure structure that whipsaws the regional carriers against each other. Last year, United Airlines parked100 Boeing 737s and laid off nearly 1,500 pilots, one fifth of its pilot staff. Many of those laid-off pilots are pursuing other careers entirely. The same pattern is going on at the other major airlines.

Under any reasonable system of airline operation, those major airline pilots would not be laid off. Instead, they would still be employed by the major airlines as captains on domestic narrow-body air craft, giving the benefit of their experi ence to, and mentoring, young copilots.

But, under the present broken system, the regional subcontractors are scurry ing to hire minimally experienced pilots, paying them an unlivable wage due to the constant competition for the privilege to feed the major carrier, and upgrading them to the captain’s seat in as little as six months. That’s simply a recipe for disaster.

As United pilots, we pride ourselves as being among the best-trained and safest aviators in the world. We have a safety record that backs up those claims. Yet, we are witnessing the outsourcing of too many of our brothers and sisters in lieu of cheaper, less-experienced pilots.

Our flying public deserves—and de mands— better.

— Capt. Wendy Morse, chairman of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, Chicago
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:37 PM   #2  
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Very well reasoned article. As the article states (implicitly) it's a race to the bottom. You get what you pay for. I hope one day we see the costs of pilots the same as the cost of fuel....fixed, non-negotiable. Wish I knew what the answer was, but my fear is that the 300hr. F/O will continue to populate the ranks.
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:37 PM   #3  
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Nice. Also if they do not fix the airspace issues, they will just demand bigger jets with less frequency.
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:44 PM   #4  
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Agreed. Sooner or later safety and the price of qualified individuals will have to be dealt with. When that truly happens, we will have finally hit bottom.
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:07 PM   #5  
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It's an interesting article. I agree we all need to be paid more, and the passengers need and deserve the experience for which they are paying. But coming from United? Is this a joke? I believe everything comes full circle if we wait long enough, and it is happening to UAL.
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:51 PM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steel View Post
.... But coming from United? Is this a joke? I believe everything comes full circle if we wait long enough, and it is happening to UAL.
Maybe you have a good point....but what is your point?
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:57 PM   #7  
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plain and simple code-sharing is false advertising...50% of the passengers would not accept the contract of carriage, if they knew the truth.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:13 PM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steel View Post
It's an interesting article. I agree we all need to be paid more, and the passengers need and deserve the experience for which they are paying. But coming from United? Is this a joke? I believe everything comes full circle if we wait long enough, and it is happening to UAL.
Maybe you have a good point....but what is your point?

There is a difference between what UAL pilots want and what UAL management(if you can call it that) is doing to the airline.(ie. almost 50% RJ hours)
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:51 PM   #9  
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Nice. Also if they do not fix the airspace issues, they will just demand bigger jets with less frequency.

Not much chance of that happening.
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:23 AM   #10  
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Yes, Wendy lays out the problem clearly but she doesn't offer any fixes. What exactly is she saying?

Perhaps, because it is unfixable. She bemoans flying being taken away from our "brothers and sisters" Fair enough, but what brothers and sisters is she talking about? Our UAL brothers or our ALPA brothers. After all, many Express pilots are union members, is it an example of solidarity to want to take flying from them?

Yes, they are underpaid, but I don't know if anyone has made a clear connection between low pay and underperformance. As for their experience levels, every day that goes by without the majors hiring away Express pilots is another day of experience the Ex pilots gain. She says company's upgrade pilots in 6 months. When was the last time that happened?

They could perhaps use better training and a stronger in house safety culture. An issue Wendy only briefly mentions and even then, in an indirect way.
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