Pilots with the regional carrier Envoy Air overwhelmingly approved a new contract that allows it to operate larger aircraft in exchange for pay scale freezes.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents the 2,400 pilots, said almost 92 percent of eligible pilots voted on the contract, with 75 percent voting in favor.
The 10-year pact is similar to an offer rejected by pilots in March. Since then, American Airlines Group, which owns Envoy, has moved aircraft away from the regional airline to other carriers that operate American Eagle flights, essentially downsizing it.
Union representatives called the new contract concessionary and said the economics of the deal benefit American Airlines Group “greatly.”
“The pilots are under the impression that if our brothers and sisters are willing to move to other [airlines] and fly under worse economic conditions in exchange for hope, then perhaps we should take the path and preserve our contract and preserve our airline,” said Sam Pool, master executive council president for the Air Lines Pilots Association.
Under the deal, American said it will guarantee that 40 of its new 76-seat Embraer 175s will be flown by Envoy starting in the fourth quarter of 2015. American has options to buy 90 more of the jets, and if it does, Envoy will operate those, too.
“For our more than 14,000 employees, this agreement lays the foundation for a stronger company and more successful future at Envoy,” Envoy Chief Executive Pedro Fabregas said in a letter to workers. “Larger aircraft will allow us to operate in more competitive markets and expand our footprint in American’s network.”
In exchange for the larger aircraft, the agreement freezes pay scales for pilots until 2018, with 1 percent annual pay increases after that. It includes a $12,500 signing bonus for captains and $7,500 for first officers. A profit-sharing plan has been eliminated from the contract.
Envoy has had difficulty hiring and keeping pilots as several larger airlines, including American, have added pilots to staff schedules. Envoy has said it is losing about 20 pilots a month just to American as they move up to the mainline carrier.
The new contract provides for a direct career progression plan for Envoy pilots to move to American, Fabregas said.
Envoy, formerly called American Eagle, is one of 10 regional carriers that contract with American to operate flights under the American Eagle brand and livery. American, as a result of its merger with US Airways, also owns two other regional airlines, Piedmont and PSA.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631