Comair Announces Plans to Shut Down September 29
On Friday, July 27,
Delta Air Lines management confirmed what had been rumored for months—that the
company would be shutting down its wholly owned subsidiary Comair. On September
29, this once powerhouse of the regional industry will shut its doors, laying
off more than 600 active pilots.
In May, the Comair MEC Negotiating Committee provided Comair management with
a comprehensive plan for a new pilot contract, which included numerous
cost-cutting proposals in a valiant effort to save their airline and their jobs.
These proposals would have saved over $10 million in just the first year.
However, the sacrifices and concessions proposed weren’t enough to persuade
Delta management to keep Comair active.
The July 27 announcement apparently is the last in a long
series of events that tested the mettle of the pilot group. In 2001, having been
acquired by Delta Air Lines two years prior, the pilots went on a strike that
lasted 89 days. Just four years later, Comair, along with Delta Air Lines, filed
for bankruptcy and negotiated a new pilot contract that included deep
concessions. In September 2010, Comair announced plans to park the majority of
its 50-seat regional jets. This move would have cut the airline down to about
500 pilots by the end of 2012. Even this radical reconstruction of the airline
wasn’t enough to save the airline long-term. This week, the Negotiating
Committee will return to the table, not to hammer out a new contract but to
discuss the closure and an equitable severance for the remaining active pilots.
Through ALPA’s Furloughed Pilots Support Program (FPSP), the Comair pilots
will continue to receive assistance from ALPA, including admission to job fairs,
employment opportunities, and unemployment benefit information. FPSP also sends
out a Flight Path newsletter and has a website containing resources
covering everything from stress management to finances.
“Every pilot at Comair has worked extremely hard toward a different outcome,
and we are disheartened by the announcement,” commented CMR MEC chair Capt. Erik Jensen. “For
years, Comair has been flying against strong headwinds—including an
ever-changing industry, high fuel costs, and an increasingly competitive
regional market. We are extremely proud of our commitment and sacrifices, but in
the end, the company just couldn’t overcome the obstacles.”