Strike Looms for ComAir Pilots

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - One of our country's larger regional airlines is looking at a lose-lose proposition this weekend.

ComAir risks either staying in bankruptcy, or a threat that its pilots will go on strike if forced to live up a court-ordered deal.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd joins us live from McGhee Tyson Airport, with more on what a strike could mean, if you depend on ComAir for business or pleasure trips.

The short answer is, your risk is a lot lower this time around, as compared to ComAir's last, crippling pilots strike five years ago.

Traffic's heavy out of McGhee Tyson, no doubt, folks heading back home after Christmas, and maybe a few heading to Tampa early for the Outback Bowl.

But ComAir isn't the player it was five years ago.

Bankruptcy court has said ComAir needs to cut almost $16 million in operating expenses.

But cutting costs and routes already mean that ComAir loses about a fifth of its pilots every year to other airlines.

Trouble is, new cuts mean that ComAir would breach its own contract with its pilots.

Rather than a raise, to about 62,000 a year, pilots would take cuts of more than six grand.

"I don't think they're really in a position to strike. I think their impact on Delta's overall picture has been lessened by the fact that Delta has awarded some of ComAir's routes to other carriers. So Delta has pretty much spread their risk out among all their regional carriers," says Bill Murphy from World Travel.

Bottom line: travel agent Bill Murphy expects ComAir and pilots to give each other some wiggle room to avoid a strike.

He's still booking customers on ComAir, figuring one of Delta's other regional partners would pick up any slack if the pilots do walk.

Negotiations have resumed at ComAir corporate headquarters just south of Cincinnati.


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