PSA could fly some of American’s new large regional jets

Washington DC
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PSA Airlines is prepped to fly at least 30 76-seat regional jets for a post-merger American Airlines, if its pilots ratify a new letter of agreement with the regional carrier.

The US Airways subsidiary agreed to fly the aircraft at lower rates after a similar offer to pilots at American Eagle was rejected by the latter’s union, says Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) American Eagle master executive council chairman William Sprague.

The proposal to pilots at the American subsidiary, given by US Airways management which would dominate the new company, was for a new B pay scale where pay and benefits for new hires would be different from cockpit crew already at the carrier, he says. This was untenable to the union, he adds.

The tentative agreement with PSA includes only a “portion” of the number of large regional jets and was offered to American Eagle’s pilots this past May, says Sprague. He declines to comment on the number offered.

The ALPA PSA master executive council declines to comment citing the voting period, which concludes on 27 September.

Pilots at PSA ratified a five-year contract with the Dayton, Ohio-based regional carrier in March. This agreement includes a pay scale for the CRJ900 and E-175 sized aircraft.

The letter of agreement would amend the March contract, confirms ALPA.

PSA has 35 Bombardier CRJ200s and 14 Bombardier CRJ700s in its fleet, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows.

US Airways declines to comment.

American is in talks with both Bombardier and Embraer for an order of roughly 60 CRJ900s or E-175s for its regional fleet. However, a final decision on the order has been delayed by the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) challenge to the proposed merger with US Airways.

"American intended to finance the purchases of these new aircraft with favourable export credit financing," the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier said in a court filing on 28 August. "However, this type of financing will only be available to American after it emerges from bankruptcy."

The DOJ challenged the proposed merger on anticompetitive grounds in US District Court on 13 August. A trial is scheduled to begin on 25 November and take 10 days.

Offering the large regional jets to PSA has raised questions among employees about the future of American Eagle. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) at the regional carrier cites the offer, as well as recent capacity purchase agreements between American and Republic Airlines and SkyWest Inc., for its uncertainty in a statement on 17 September.

“We’re not so much opposing the merger,” said the union. “There’s just so many questions and no answers have been given to our workers.”

Sprague says that American Eagle’s pilots' concern with the merger is that “we haven’t seen a business plan with what they do with that feed”.

American declines to comment on either AFA or ALPA’s comments.

American Eagle has 47 CRJ700s, nine Embraer 135s, 59 Embraer 140s and 118 Embraer 145s in its fleet, according to Ascend. It will remove the ERJ-135s by the end of the year.