Pinnacle Airlines has withdrawn from negotiations with its pilots unions for a "few days" to consider the impact of fleet plan update received from mainline partner Delta Air Lines.
Delta's plan is not finalised, but the update makes Pinnacle chief executive John Spanjers "expect that the [mainline carrier's] CRJ200 fleet will begin to shrink sometime next year", he says in a letter to Pinnacle employees released on 29 November.
The timing could impact Pinnacle's ongoing talks with the Air Line Pilots Association over a new collective bargaining agreement. The talks were initiated in April as part of the carrier's bankruptcy restructuring.
"We are taking a few days away from the [bargaining] table to assess the impact of the anticipated fleet plan changes and what is needed for Pinnacle to survive," Spanjers wrote.
Delta has been very clear that it intends to significantly reduce the size of the 50-seat jet fleet comprised mainly of CRJ200s in its regional network. In June, the SkyTeam carrier released a plan to replace 218 of its 343 50-seat regional jets with 70 76-seat regional jets, with the Bombardier CRJ900 and the Embraer E-175 as the candidates.
The plan would reduce Delta's fleet of 50-seat jets to only 120 aircraft.
Pinnacle is the largest of several regional feeders in Delta's network, and it currently has capacity purchase agreements in place to operate 140 CRJ200s for the carrier.