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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Comair reduces fleet, cuts 200 pilot jobs

Associated Press

HEBRON, Ky. — Comair, the country's second-largest regional airline, said it is reducing its fleet by 17 planes and eliminating 200 pilot jobs to save money as a pilots' strike moves into its fourth week.

The airline's 1,350 pilots went on strike March 26 and Comair, which also flies under the name of Delta Express and is owned by Delta Air Lines, canceled all flights.

"These steps are necessary to preserve capital, reduce costs and put Comair in a better position to maintain its competitiveness when operations resume," the airline said in a statement.

Industry analysts estimate Comair's losses at $2.5 million to $4 million a day since the strike began. Comair won't comment on those estimates.

"We remain committed to reaching an agreement that will enable us to take care of our customers and our employees while remaining competitive," said company spokeswoman Meghan Glynn.

The striking pilots are seeking higher pay, company-paid retirement, more rest between shifts and pay for nonflying hours when they are on duty.

Union leaders say Comair pilots deserve compensation similar to that offered by the major airlines because they must meet the same federal requirements.

Comair had served 25,000 passengers a day with flights to 95 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.

Comair officials said they will retire the company's nine remaining Embraer-120 Brasilia aircraft, which operated throughout Florida, and eight 50-seat Canadair jets.

The base for Embraer-120 Brasilia flight crews in Orlando, Fla., will be closed at least until the strike is settled. About half the eliminated pilot positions will be there, management said, with the rest coming through dismissal of pilots in training.