April 4 Pilots rejected a tentative contract at
Republic Airways Holdings, a regional carrier that
curbed its flying plans for this year citing difficulty finding
aviators, that the carrier said offered improved pay and work
Local 357 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
union, which represents more than 2,200 pilots at Republic
units, on Friday said 1,643 pilots, or 85 percent, voted against
the contract, while 289 voted in favor. The union said 89.5
percent of the pilots voted.
"The pilot group has stated clearly its demand that Republic
must do better in establishing acceptable terms for a new
agreement," Local 357 President Craig Moffatt said in a
He said the local would look to pinpoint priorities that
could help reach an agreement the pilots would approve. Talks
with the pilot group on a new contract began in 2007.
Pilots at American Airlines Group's American Eagle
unit failed to ratify an agreement last week.
The rejections come amid concern about pilot shortages in
the regional airline sector. The U.S. Government Accountability
Office warned earlier this year that regional airlines are
having a hard time finding pilots relative to their bigger
counterparts because of low wages and new U.S. rules mandating
more experience for entry-level aviators.
Indianapolis-based Republic said in February that its
pre-tax income would be reduced this year because it decided not
to extend leases on 27 planes due to a scarcity of qualified
"I absolutely believe that (pilots) believe that they have
leverage in these negotiations," said William Swelbar, research
engineer with MIT's International Center for Air Transportation.
He said pilots at the regionals, which operate flights for
bigger airlines, were frustrated about low wages.
Given pressures to keep costs down, Swelbar added, "I just
don't see where it is that the money is going to come from under
the existing construct for them to see significant improvement
over and above what the tentative agreements had in them."
Republic Airways said the proposed pact included pay
increases that would have put Republic pilots "at or near the
top of its regional airline peers" and a signing bonus.
"We will work with the IBT to determine our next steps,"
Republic Chief Executive Bryan Bedford said in a statement.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Mohammad