US Airways and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) are once again at war, with the union describing as spiteful the carrier's decision to place newly ordered Bombardier CRJ700 Series 701 regional jets with partner Mesa Air in response to ALPA's refusal to operate the larger Series 705 version.

US Airways has traded in its recent launch order for 25 Series 705s for a similar number of standard 70-seaters and signed a letter of intent with Mesa to operate the aircraft on its behalf from Charlotte. The carrier ordered the 705s - a 75-seat version of the stretched CRJ900 - in May as part of a larger $2.2 billion purchase of 170 CRJ200s and Embraer 170/175s (Flight International, 20-26 May).

The Series 705s had been earmarked for PSA, one of US Airways' three wholly owned regional subsidiary carriers, but the mainline pilots membership refused to waive the 34,000kg (75,000lb) maximum take-off weight (MTOW) limitation on regional jets. The 705 will have a MTOW of 36,550kg. ALPA last year agreed to an exemption for US Airways' new division MidAtlantic to fly the 37,460kg and 38,820kg MTOW 170 and 175, respectively. "We continue to believe that the 705 falls within the parameters of our contract," says the airline.

"They ordered these aircraft in defiance of the contract," claims ALPA. It adds that with 235 other outstanding grievances over rostering, sick leave and compensation, the union's membership is in no mood to grant the airline another type exemption. "The issue is much deeper than jets-for-jobs, we want them to comply with the contract on all fronts," says ALPA.

Source: Flight International