Comair - letter of interest

Lowlevel

Heehee.. Member
Hey everyone, found a copy of this in the Comair crew lounge and made a copy. Thought I'd share it here. I am not sure who wrote it (pilot or F/A?)and I am not sure if Richard Anderson read it, but ......

Mr. Anderson,
I am an employee of Comair Airlines. I am writing you today in an effort to fully understand the thought process that goes into Delta’s choice of regional carriers. I have heard so many rumors and inaccurate statements in the past few months, that I decided to go right to the CEO of Delta for accurate information. I trust that you will be honest and forthcoming with me. Everything that I write to you is truthful and accurate, except that I have withheld my true name for fear of losing my position with Comair or causing tension in the company. I hope that you respect this choice.

A quick history of my employment with Comair: I have been employed as a crewmember for two years. When I first decided to pursue a career at an airline, I had to decide whether it was worth taking a huge pay cut (from my previous career to the airlines) to pursue a career that I had aspired to since I was a child. After deciding to take this cut, the next question was which airlines to focus on. Much thought was put into this, as I wanted to work for a stable company that rewards their employees for hard work. I researched the regional airlines, and finally decided that Comair was the airline I would apply to. They are wholly owned by Delta, have always shown a profit for Delta, and they have been in business for thirty years which to me showed that they were going to be around for years to come.

In the past two years, I have seen things happen within the company and between Delta and Comair that truly confuse me. At the time I was hired, there was a feeling within the company of security and optimism for the future. There was a huge push to hire flight attendants and pilots to fill positions in the newest regional jet on the market at the time, the CRJ 900, as well as filling positions at John F. Kennedy International. Comair was growing and everyone felt that the company was secure with its position as Delta Airlines’ only wholly owned subsidiary. There was even talk of an additional base at Boston’s Logan International. Freedom Airlines’ on-time performance at JFK was atrocious and it was just a matter of time before Delta terminated their contract with Mesa, and as one would believe, pass this flying on to their wholly owned Comair. Since then, I have seen Freedom expand their presence at JFK, ASA taking over many of the previous Comair routes, Skywest operating flights out of CVG (Comair’s headquarters!), and Republic opening a base in CVG. Huge reductions in Comair’s block times have caused the company to furlough pilots and flight attendants and layoff other front line employees, at the same time that Delta gives Freedom more flights from JFK. This week we were notified of further furloughs for flight crews to take affect in January, as well as the loss of a 14th CRJ 900 that was reassigned to Mesaba. Wonderful news to start the holiday season. With all the sadness and anger within the company, it would seem that employees would not care about performance, but yet we set records for 100% completion this past month! Comair has shown consistently that they are Delta’s best choice when choosing a regional carrier, yet Delta continues to cut block hours for us.

During the past few months, with fuel prices fluctuating, I have read many articles that state that the 50 seat regional jet is a thing of the past, a money loser when fuel prices are high. I have read that Comair is going to be in a bad position, given that most of their aircraft are 50 seat CRJ 100/200’s. I have read how many customers like the EMB-170 aircraft that Republic is flying for Delta. As I read these articles, I begin to wonder why Comair has so many 50 seat aircraft. Comair was the original regional jet carrier, on the leading edge of regional airline travel. They had the latest, most advance regional aircraft on the market. What happened along the way that caused Comair to fall behind when it comes to having the newest most efficient aircraft? Why would Delta allow it’s wholly owned company to fall behind other regional carriers when it comes to having the latest equipment? Why would Delta/Comair not move away from the 50 seat aircraft and concentrate on the EMB-170/175 or CRJ 900? If the company is wholly owned by Delta, Comair’s profit or loss is essentially Delta’s profit or loss, so why would Delta give block hours to other regional carriers instead of its wholly owned, reliable regional carrier? I hear all the time that the decision to use a regional carrier all comes down to price. If Comair has a higher price, isn’t that still income going back to Delta, the parent company? Many passengers pick their airline by their own previous experience with that airline or by word of mouth from other passengers. Delta may get a cheaper price from other regional carriers, but is that small difference worth the loss of passenger loyalty after they receive less than excellent service on a sub par regional carrier? Comair has been there for Delta through many trying times, it is a company that puts pride in its product and the employees put pride in their service. When a passenger thinks back to a flight they have taken, they think “Delta” not Comair, Freedom, ASA, or Republic.

I would like to take a moment to thank you for personally reading my email. As you can see, I have many questions and concerns. I hear these same concerns from other employees at Comair, and I hope that you will give me some firm information that I can share with someone if they ask these questions. I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and a wonderful new year in 2009.


Name withheld
Comair Crewmember
 

WalterSobchak

Well-Known Member
After he falls out of his chair laughing he might wipe his mouth on it and shoot it like a basketball into the trash.
 

SpiraMirabilis

Possible Subversive
Re: Unfortunately

Probably won't even get read by him, these things are intercepted by executive communications peeps.
 

Baronman

Well-Known Member
I think it's a well thought out letter, it's clear, poses a few questions, shows genuine interest from an employee without appearing as an attack letter. Despite what the others have said I could see it arriving in Mr. Anderson's mail box.

I don't know the answers to the questions, why DL kept Freedom around despite their poor operating performance? Or why didn't DL buy those aircraft (Big RJs)? I'm sure the economics of things drove most of the decisions. Possibly Freedom was so inexpensive that in their (DLs) eyes it was worth the trade-off for poor performance. Why no Gigantor-RJs? Perhaps given DLs financial position years ago it was better to have another company purchase/lease the RJs with DL giving that company a Capacity Purchase Agreement. Perhaps DL/Comair knew that Comair had a more senior group that would have expected higher pay than their Republic counterparts. It seems now that is clearly the case with Pinnacle and Mesaba receiving aircraft, they more junior pilots flying at lower rates.

I'm interested if you get a response to hear how DL approaches these things.
 

CrippleHawk

Well-Known Member
I think it's a well thought out letter, it's clear, poses a few questions, shows genuine interest from an employee without appearing as an attack letter. Despite what the others have said I could see it arriving in Mr. Anderson's mail box.

I don't know the answers to the questions, why DL kept Freedom around despite their poor operating performance? Or why didn't DL buy those aircraft (Big RJs)? I'm sure the economics of things drove most of the decisions. Possibly Freedom was so inexpensive that in their (DLs) eyes it was worth the trade-off for poor performance. Why no Gigantor-RJs? Perhaps given DLs financial position years ago it was better to have another company purchase/lease the RJs with DL giving that company a Capacity Purchase Agreement. Perhaps DL/Comair knew that Comair had a more senior group that would have expected higher pay than their Republic counterparts. It seems now that is clearly the case with Pinnacle and Mesaba receiving aircraft, they more junior pilots flying at lower rates.

I'm interested if you get a response to hear how DL approaches these things.
Delta wanted to get rid of Freedom but...............

Mesa won a preliminary court injunction to block the move. Meaning Delta cannot do anything about it. However Delta is appealing the decision. That's what I have heard so far. however court date between the 2 is coming up in January 2009.
 

Lowlevel

Heehee.. Member
We all know the story with Freedom. Comair lost a lot of flying at JFK (which caused the furloughs, or accelerated them) when Delta awarded the block hours to Freedom. Rumors abound about why Delta did this (to show that Freedom can't do the job so they have ammo in court?). Whatever the reason, people are out on the street and out a job in one of the worst times to be unemployed in the U.S. I saw a few more copies in the crew room, so I guess some people thought the letter was worth spreading. I am not sure if we will ever know if it is read by the CEO. If the author hears back, I hope they leave a copy of the reply in the CR too! If so, and I see it, I will post it.
 

Trip7

Well-Known Member
Best of luck to all the CMR guys. Its just the cruel nature of the industry that killing that once proud airline. It was sad to see all the parked 200s in CVG.
 

NC_BE300

Well-Known Member
" I decided to go right to the CEO of Delta for accurate information. I trust that you will be honest and forthcoming with me. "

HA!
Now there is a laugh. After seeing how big of a surprise this DL/NWA merger was to everyone after they fought away from a USAirways merger....i wouldn't expect either/or of the hoest & forthcoming-from either the DL or CMR CEO's.

If there is a response to this letter-from the "higher ups", i would be shocked.
It just seems like everyone runs around with the idea of the "Kremlin" or "house of mirrors" idea running the place-its about all i hear on the line.

But as far as getting bigger airplanes. My guess is that the DL mainline people would be the ones preferring to operate those....not to mention the question of pay when there are way too many old guys here to still call this place "a regional". That is an awesome idea though....new planes be it CRJ/E-Jet's.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Is this a joke?
Doubtful.

But to whomever wrote this, I know it's semantics, but if you want to win over the hearts and minds over on Virginia Avenue, it's "Air Lines" and not "Airlines"! :)

I'm serious! :)
 

Lowlevel

Heehee.. Member
Oh yes, lest we forget that the minds of Delta are stuck in the 1960's (Air Lines)! Running the airline like someone who fears change. Hey guys, look, I have my blazer and hot hat on, and its 80 degrees....oh yes, but it is past November 1!
 

kellwolf

Piece of Trash
I'd say there's a good case for "airlines" considering Delta is now a conglomerate of smaller airlines that have been sucked into a growing beast. :) Not exactly the mail carrier from Monroe, LA they started out as.....
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Technically a crop dusting service, but I'm feelin' ya dawg! :)
 

surreal1221

Well-Known Member
Oh yes, lest we forget that the minds of Delta are stuck in the 1960's (Air Lines)! Running the airline like someone who fears change. Hey guys, look, I have my blazer and hot hat on, and its 80 degrees....oh yes, but it is past November 1!
I'm sure I'll be in the minority here. . .but. . .

Tradition goes a long way with me. So does the image of tradition. :eek:
 

Lowlevel

Heehee.. Member
Hey, guess what I found last night! This looks to be the reply to the letter first mentioned on this post. At least I respect a CEO that will respond to letters and not avoid them.


Normally I do not read or reply to anonymous letters or e-mails but since your name appeared in the e-mail, here is the response.

I understand the concerns at Comair and it is the same as we are hearing from all regional carriers as the economic model in this sector shifts from one of unlimited growth to one that more closely resembles what is happening at the mainlines - - very limited if any growth. No carrier with no P&L risk, regional or mainline, will be insulated from the tough economic times we face as an industry and the tough waters ahead. I would like to address your points and ensure there is no misunderstanding about what is happening in the regional space:


  • Delta intended to terminate Freedom for poor performance and “fired” them earlier in 2008. They have since filed and won a preliminary injunction to prevent us from “firing” them on the E145 contract. Freedom has, however, flown its last CR900 flight for Delta. Those 7 aircraft have been temporarily transferred to Pinnacle on their way to Mesaba - - a wholly-owned subsidiary.
  • ASA, Freedom, SkyWest and possibly more partners are flying to CVG, (even though Comair is headquartered there). There are now 9 different Delta Connection partners and we have abandoned the concept of hub ownership - - no carrier will be the sole provider of lift to a hub, our network group will determine the best flow of aircraft to serve the needs of our customers.
  • Mesaba will eventually receive Freedom’s 7 CR900s and 1 additional CR900 that we contemplated for Comair because Mesaba already possesses 36 CR900s and there is advantages to reaching that critical mass of 40+ shells of any fleet type. Mesaba is a wholly-owned sub.
  • Comair is challenged from a cost structure standpoint in that its costs are higher than our contract carriers, even after mark-up is added to the costs. In-house costs are still costs, and if outside costs, (including mark-up), are cheaper, then a prudent decision would be to contract the work. This applies not only to the airline industry, but to all industries. Not only to flying, but to maintenance, technology services, etc.
  • Your question about why does Comair have so many 50-seaters is answered by looking at the history of Comair. Comair was the innovator of the 50-seat RJ. Comair was first and biggest into this new platform. Unfortunately, growth opportunities were missed in 2003 and even as late as the bankruptcy process itself as Comair’s management team and the unions’ leadership could not reach agreement on growth where our contract partners could.
  • Your observation about the Comair pride of quality is spot on - - you provide a solid product to Delta and our customers everyday - - I personally thank you and your counterparts for this professionalism.

I do appreciate your reaching out to me about this subject and am hopeful I shed some light on this difficult subject that plagues the regionals, whether you are Comair or American Eagle - - high cost structures in a slowing industry make for a difficult proposition for all, frontline and management employees alike.

Richard


 

kellwolf

Piece of Trash
Just to toss more fuel on the fire, looks like the TDY in CVG for -900 flying at Pinnacle is gonna be a monthly thing......there's another one up for Dec.
 

saxman

Well-Known Member
Yup, its all about money. Nothing about employees losing jobs and such. Money is the bottom line and to RA and most other bean counters, we're an employee number on a spreadsheet. I've come to realize that most companies think like this and always will. Some exceptions exist though, with the concept of taking care of your employees, your business will prosper. Are there any cases where this hasn't worked?

I do know that the 3 wholly owned's will be run by one entity. Hopefully better than the monkeys running Comair right now.
 
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