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Teamsters Local 357: Pilots say Quality of Life/Pay, NOT Qualifications Causing Pilot Shortage

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pilots who fly for one of the nation's largest regional airline companies say it's not a lack of qualified pilots, but rather a lack of pay and respect that's grounding airplanes and could cause a ripple effect in the nation's air transportation system.

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This week, Republic Airways Holdings (NASDAQ:RJET) announced that it would operate 27 fewer airplanes and expects to hire almost half the number of pilots  anticipated in 2014 due a lack of candidates who meet new FAA rules mandating 1,500 hours of  experience.  However, the issues are more complex according to International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local No. 357 which represents the 3000+ pilots who fly for the Indianapolis-based airline.

"Regional carriers as a whole need to offer better pay and work rules to attract new pilots,"  said Local 357 President Craig Moffatt.  "The lack of a competitive contract here at Republic contributes to poor quality of life with sub-standard pay to boot. This, in turn, leads qualified pilots to look elsewhere."

The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or contract was ratified in 2003 and became amendable in October of 2007. Pilots are covered by the Railway Labor Act, so the contract does not expire. Negotiations began in April 2007 and entered mediation in 2011.  Local 357 pilots have been without a contractual raise or an adjustment of work rules to reflect industry and economic changes for over six years—and counting.

Regional carriers are a key link in the nation's air-transportation system. Approximately half of the nation's domestic flights are outsourced to regional airlines rather than flown by a larger carrier.  Republic Airways Holdings owns and operates Chautauqua Airlines, Republic Airlines and Shuttle America Airlines which in turn fly for American, United, Delta and US Airways.

SOURCE Teamsters Local Union No. 357

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