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Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Wed Jan 14, 2004 1:45 pm

Mesaba deal: 5.1%-26.7% pay hikes
Liz Fedor, Star Tribune

Published January 14, 2004

Mesaba Airlines pilots will get pay raises ranging from 5.1 to 26.7 percent under a contract agreement reached early Sunday morning.

The majority of first officers, who fly Saab turboprops and four-engine Avro regional jets, would get a pay boost of 13.4 percent when the contract is signed, according to a contract summary released Tuesday by the pilots union.

The average starting pay of a Mesaba pilot would jump from $17,352 to $23,542. Pilots at the top of the experience scale are expected to earn $94,483 under the new contract, which is comparable to $85,445 under the existing contract.

The union's elected leadership voted unanimously to recommend the tentative agreement to the airline's 844 pilots, who will vote on the contract Jan. 23-29. A simple majority is required for ratification.

The pilots contract came open in June 2002. Pilots will receive retroactive pay for 2003 but not for 2002. Union leaders said pilots will receive retroactive paychecks ranging from $450 to $6,300. First officers will get retroactive pay that equals 10 percent of their 2003 flight pay, while captains will get 5 percent of their 2003 earnings for their retroactive payments.

If the pilots approve the contract, Mesaba captains will get 5.1 percent pay raises when the contract is signed. The first officers would get increases of 13.4 to 26.7 percent, with the biggest pay-scale increase going to the new hires. The contract signing most likely would occur in late January or early February.

The tentative agreement spans five years and calls for 2 percent increases in years two and three and 4 percent increases in years four and five.

While pay was a critical issue for the pilots, job security was of equal importance, union leaders said.

For example, the new Mesaba agreement prevents MAIR Holdings, Mesaba's parent corporation, from using Montana-based Big Sky Airlines for expansion flying. MAIR acquired the small, Montana-based airline in December 2002, and MAIR CEO Paul Foley told Wall Street analysts in October that he wanted to diversify the company by finding airline partners for Big Sky.

The pilots union has altered Foley's plans. In a contract summary, Mesaba ALPA said, Big Sky will be "permanently limited to flying aircraft with 19 or fewer seats." Pilots at Big Sky are represented by the United Transportation Union.

The union said the tentative agreement also greatly improves the retirement plan for Mesaba pilots. Union leaders said they are pleased with the new contract because it puts their contract in the top tier with other major regional airlines -- Comair, Air Wisconsin and Atlantic Coast.

Full Story:
Source: Minneapolis StarTribune
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:26 pm

I'm surprised no one wants to comment on this topic.

It looks to me like the pilots did a good job of getting what they needed, yet not putting the airline in a bad position. New hires will definitely get the best end of the deal.

Also, if this deal allows Mesaba to get new aircraft from NWA as the story suggests, then Mesaba should be in pretty good shape for the future.
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 12:17 am

I think it's great to see they came to a compromise. I also think that this will place Mesba, like the story says, with other major regional carriers.
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:18 am

So this means the Avro's are staying in the fleet? Good to hear!
Why would God make us all so different, if He wanted us to be the same?
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:24 am

sounds like they want to put Big sky out of business. theres not much growth in the 19 seat market.

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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 7:04 am

Hold on folks.....not so fast.....

This means absolutely nothing about the future of the Arvo, that will be announced by Feb 29 and has nothing to do with the contract.

Remember this is a Tenative Agreement, that has yet to be ratified by the pilots....

This is what I've heard so far, I'm sure others can add more comment....

Increases to first year FO's were decent.
Saab FO and CA pay is decent
Arvo pay is still subpar
Payscale for CRJ (if they are added in the future) - slightly below average

Days off and per-diem pay - not quite as expected

Overall, a decent contract for a turboprop operator, but would be below industy for an RJ operator.

--One thing I learned in the whole job market is to pay attention to benefits, even more so than salary. As what may seem like a low salary in terms of actual pay can be made up in good benefits. Especially health care, if you plan on raising a family, time off, and retirements.

I know some pilots aren't happy with this TA, some are, and some will never be happy with anything. So take it for what its worth. Everyone has their own definition of living comfortably and someone's poverty might be someone's fortune....err something like that.
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 7:15 am

Starting pay was $17K and now "improves" to $23K!?!?!? I thought pilots made big bucks! You can't live on 17K a year, and even 23K is a stretch. That's just awful. Pretty sad when the shift manager at McDonalds makes more than a pilot!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

[Edited 2004-01-14 23:21:56]
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 10:47 am

Just to keep this realistic. What will this contract cost in the long run?

The money to cover this must come from somewhere and it will not be from the profits built up in the bank.

The pilots all thought the MEM operation was awful and unsafe. Wait till you see the future staffing levels at outstations. This is where all the cuts take place. they are already evaluating outstations operating with 2 agents per flight after deice season - some stations are looking at the cuts now. Keep in mind - 2 people, this includes the manager on duty.

....but at least the pilots are happy, that is all that matters.
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:44 pm

At least nobody on this thread is complaining that airline pilots make too much money and in turn cause the financial problems that US airlines are facing...
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:49 pm

Maybe this opens the door for some Embraer's to replace the Avro's? Northern routes especially in winter need the cargo and luggage hauling capacity of this class of aircraft. CRJ;s are a bit too light on hauling capacity.

We are all relieved and pleased that a deal seems likely to be signed off. It is a lon 8 hour drive from MSP to CMX! And NWA Mesaba is the only game in town!
The Original Coronado: First CV jet flights RG CV 990 July 1965; DL CV 880 July 1965; Spantax CV990 Feb 1973
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Fri Jan 16, 2004 7:01 am

It is very rare to have a CRJ weight-restricted, at least on the routes that NW operates them on. They don't operate them on too many routes that require a full fuel load. The ERJ's are actually WORSE in terms of weight restrictions than the CRJ's.

No, NW is not actively looking at the E170 or E190.

This deal is anything but signed off. Don't get too relieved. From what I hear, this is a good possibility this TA will be voted down.

Airdude - 2 people at the outstations per shift??? Thats news to me. Maybe in little po-dunk outstations like CIU, APN or Northern MN, but at the other stations no way. Plus if we're handling Pinnacle CRJ's and the Arvo's, thats a nightmare. That would surely cause performance to drop. How would Sr. Mgmt doesn't take their fat bonuses, plays a few less rounds of country club golf per week, and actually earns their pay like everone else.
Still, judging from your past remarks, I'm still rather skeptical....
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Fri Jan 16, 2004 7:53 am

Sounds to me like those who just days ago jumped to the hasty conclusion that XJ's pilots had "caved" are now wearing egg all over their faces!
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Fri Jan 16, 2004 8:11 am

The question should be asked, how much do the pilots think they can get, given the current economic conditions that exist? Not to make a mountain out of a molehill, and yes, I'm sure that management hasn't done their part, ya-da ya-da ya-da, etc. but there is only so much blood per stone.
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Fri Jan 16, 2004 8:35 am

I know several pilots at Chicago Express and there pay for an FO on the SAAB 340 is $17k a year. I personally think that a person that has 1300TT and no college that can get a job flying a saab for that pay is pretty good. Not only are they gonna be left seat in about 3 years but they can be making good money at a major with in about 6-9 the airline industry i think these sacrifises are worth the time at the lower end of the pay scale. I think the Mesaba guys got a good deal. I didnt know that the Avro pilots made that much money. I wonder what the 146 guys make at Air Wisconsin. I fuel them everyday and have always wondered that. I know there RJ pilots start at $23k a year also so thats not to bad, but there also gone 4 nights out of the week.
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:28 pm


Lets not beat a dead horse here.....

First of all regional pilots are no longer using the regionals as a stepping stone. Since the majors aren't hiring, they are stuck where they are, and we are now likely going to see many career regional pilots. They can't make low pay for their entire career.

1300TT and no college isn't going to get you hired these days. You pretty much need a college degree to even get an interview for a pilot's position.
Your observations might be a little skewed.

As I mentioned before, when looking at a job, it is just important to look at other benefits, even more so than pure salary. Issues such as retirement, days off, medical, etc need to be taken into account. I haven't seen the contract, some people supposedly have. Those are the important details, along with the salary. While they may have increase new-hire pay, they might not have done so much for higher seniority people. So what if XJ has the highest paid 1st year FO's, it doesn't matter when you aren't hiring anyone.

I'm not going to pass judgement either way on what I think, since its not my contract and its not my income. I'm just stating what I've heard mentioned and the grumblings going around. There are two sides to every story, and with all negotiations, there are a lot of company politics involved.
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RE: Mesaba Deal: 5.1%-26.7% Pay Hikes

Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:35 pm

I'm glad the pilots stuck it out and fought for something better. XJ may have the highest paid 1st year FO's, but that isn't saying much for a regional air carrier. My personal beliefs about pilot contracts are one thing as well. I would probably be one to just be glad for having a pilot position period, especially in the days of the world we live in now.

But, as said before, there are always two sides to every story, if not a thousand more. So, if this was an agreement that suited both parties, best of luck to the pilots and way to stick through it.  Big thumbs up

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