Sky Talk

Envoy pilots approve new contract

Star-Telegram

Pilots of regional carrier, Envoy Air, voted in favor a new contract that allows the carrier to operate larger aircraft in exchange for pay scale freezes.

The 10-year contract is similar to an offer rejected by pilots in March. Since then, American Airlines, which owns Envoy, has been moving aircraft away from the regional airline to other carriers that operate American Eagle flights, essentially downsizing the carrier.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents the 2,400 pilots, said almost 92 percent of eligible pilots voted and of those, 75 percent voted in favor of the contract.

“Envoy management has the tools they require to make Envoy a viable carrier for years to come. The ball is clearly in management's court to deliver on the promises made to create a sustainable future for all employee groups,” the union said in a statement.

Under the new deal, American said it will guarantee that 40 of its new 76-seat Embraer 175 jets will be flown by Envoy starting in the fourth quarter of 2015. American has options to buy an additional 90 E175 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,” said Envoy chief executive Pedro Fabregas in a letter to workers.

In exchange, 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 also been eliminated from the contract.

Envoy has also had difficulty hiring new pilots and keeping pilots as several larger airlines, including American, have been hiring 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 to transfer Envoy pilots to American’s mainline operation, Fabregas said.

Envoy, formerly called American Eagle, is one of 10 regional carriers that American has contracted with 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.

Here is the full statement from ALPA and the complete letter from Fabregas.

ALPA STATEMENT TO MEMBERS

Today, Envoy Air pilots completed voting on the proposed changes to our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Of the 91.57% of eligible Envoy pilots who voted, 75% voted to accept these changes.

Ratification of these changes provide the forward-looking economics that American Airlines Group has requested from the Envoy pilots’ in order to re-fleet the carrier. Envoy management has the tools they require to make Envoy a viable carrier for years to come. The ball is clearly in management's court to deliver on the promises made to create a sustainable future for all employee groups.

Moving forward, your MEC will continue working to find ways to improve the quality of life for our pilots. Whether you supported this agreement or not, it’s time to move forward together. Now more than ever, it is critical that we remain unified and that we continue to look out for each other. Please remain engaged with your local council representatives and help us craft our path forward.

Thanks to everyone who participated in base visits, conference calls, or submitted questions via email. Your involvement was crucial to the process and allowed your leadership to speak on your behalf and present your position to management.

ALPA PRESS RELEASE

The pilots of Envoy Air, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), today ratified a tentative agreement reached with their management earlier this month on a contract that will help preserve the future of the airline and its employees. With more than 91 percent of eligible pilots casting ballots, 75 percent of Envoy pilots voted to ratify the agreement.

“The pilots were faced with an extremely difficult choice between two challenging outcomes,” said Sam Pool, chairman of the Envoy pilot group. “While this deal represents a process that none of our pilots wanted and none would have voluntarily chosen, we endorsed it as the better alternative to the continuous dismemberment and outsourcing of our flying.”

The new ten-year agreement includes an up-front cash payment for current Envoy pilots, a commitment for new aircraft, and a flow-through arrangement allowing Envoy pilots to be hired at American Airlines. The deal also contains cost savings from the current Envoy contract. Specific details of the agreement were not disclosed. The agreement takes effect immediately.

“Reaching this agreement was the result of an arduous year-long process that strained relations and trust between the pilot group and management,” said Pool. “As we move forward, it’s essential our current management team take proactive steps to repair significant damage to Envoy’s culture and morale. With this vote, our pilots have chosen to have faith and trust in management providing a bright future here, and now it’s time for management to deliver.”

LETTER FROM ENVOY CEO PEDRO FABREGAS

Dear Envoy team:

I am delighted to report our pilots have voted to ratify the Tentative Agreement (TA) reached earlier this month with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), setting the stage for a new era of renewal and success at Envoy.

My sincere thanks to Envoy ALPA and its Master Executive Council (MEC) for their hard work and dedication that enabled us to reach this agreement. We also owe many thanks to our pilots for their careful consideration of the facts and for always conducting themselves with the utmost professionalism, throughout a lengthy negotiation process and during the recent voting period.

For our more than 14,000 employees, this Agreement lays the foundation for a stronger company and more successful future at Envoy. With a firm fleet commitment of 40 new fuel-efficient 76-seat Embraer 175 (E175) aircraft – and the opportunity to operate up to 90 more E175s, if American exercises those options – Envoy will soon offer a top-notch and cost-effective regional product for American and its customers.

For our pilots, this Agreement offers them new, large and modern aircraft to fly and faster career advancement at both Envoy and American Airlines. Envoy now offers all existing pilots, as well as future new hires, a direct career progression to the world’s largest mainline carrier. With this agreement, Envoy has just become one of the premier regional airlines for qualified applicants seeking a long-term career as an airline pilot.

This fleet renewal will provide new opportunities across the company and there is much to do to prepare for the E175 aircraft deliveries starting later in 2015. Our Maintenance teams will be very busy overseeing all of these aircraft movements and developing new expertise for the new fleet. Our recruiting staff will likewise be busy, as we will need more pilots, flight attendants and ground handling capabilities to accommodate this growth. Larger aircraft will allow us to operate in more competitive markets and expand our footprint in American’s network.

Exciting days are ahead and we have much work to do, and I can’t think of a better way to end 2014 than by celebrating this outstanding development. I look forward to working together to make the most of these exciting new opportunities in 2015.

Thank you for all you do – for each other and our customers. I wish you all a safe, wonderful holiday and a happy New Year!

Pedro Fábregas, President & CEO

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