Says News Story Misrepresented Mesa Pilots
Mesa Air Group pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), condemned a news story aired by Phoenix-based Fox affiliate KSAZ News 10 on February 6. The union called the story "sensationalized", saying it cited a number of inaccuracies, including one that asserts that no pilots were laid off during Mesa’s 2010 Chapter 11 bankruptcy and that a Mesa Airlines captain can earn $100,000, while proclaiming that “starting pay is modest.”
"In truth, our pilots often leave flight schools with more than $100,000 in student loan debt, only to find a job at Mesa paying $22,000 a year,” said First Officer Marcin Kolodziejczyk, head of the Mesa unit of ALPA. “This is unconscionable for a well-trained pilot entrusted with the lives of hundreds of passengers each day. After eight years, a first officer may expect to make $40,000 a year, while he waits to be upgraded to captain. This is hardly the lucrative career path that the news story depicted.”
Though the story claimed that the company was able to “avoid lay-offs” during its 2010-11 bankruptcy, in fact, the company furloughed almost 500 pilots plus flight attendants and many other employees in an effort to cut costs. The pilot group also took deep cuts in quality-of-life issues, such as health care.
For the past two years, the pilot leadership at Mesa has been attempting to recuperate many of these benefits during contract negotiation talks with management. However, talks have been slow on the economic issues of the contract, and pilots continue to work under a 2008 agreement while their company touts new planes, a bright future, and a growing business.
“We are extremely proud of our company’s achievements and are excited about new aircraft and new business opportunities,” continued First Officer Kolodziejczyk. “However, this shouldn’t be used as a platform for the company and the media to whitewash the past and misrepresent the current status of our pilots. Our pay scales, work rules, and scheduling continue to be near the bottom of the regional airline industry. If Mesa Air Group truly wants to celebrate its success, we invite them to do so at the negotiating table by offering a fair and equitable deal to their pilots.”