Monday, November 20, 2006
Mesa Pilots Lack Confidence In Management
Frustrated over a lack of progress in reversing performance and quality problems, Mesa (MESA) pilots charged Mesa Air Group management with ignoring mounting operational problems prompting its pilot group to issue a public statement that they lack confidence in management. Issued by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the statement said management "passed off" such problems as "broken aircraft, crew shortages, dirty cabins, delayed and cancelled flights" as the result of rapid growth.
Management suggested that the majority of pilots did not sign the petition which was open to 1,300 of the 1,800-plus crewmembers at the airline. Chair of ALPA's Mesa unit James Ackerman admitted that the 90 percent of respondents mentioned in its release were only those that submitted the informal survey and not 90 percent of all the airline's pilots.
The ALPA contract with Mesa expires next September but Ackerman denied the move was part of any negotiation posturing. Rather, he indicated it was an attempt to gain a better quality of life for pilots who are on the front lines of passenger discontent. He also indicated the poor quality impacts Mesa's ability to gain further fee-for-departure contracts, thus jeopardizing jobs.
Pilots added the problems are continuing to grow, but management pointed out Mesa's performance has consistently improved according to DOT statistics, which, pilots said, were one of the worst in the industry. While management indicated there was dissension in the ranks with many pilots not supporting the move to criticize, Ackerman indicated the move reflected the increasing frustration of the group which has consistently addressed the problems with management to no avail. He indicated that while he was reticent to support the move, preferring to maintain the good relationship with management, his vote is only cast to break a tie and the decision to move ahead with the confidence vote was passed unanimously. "The point is not whether I personally supported the move," he said. "This is a democratic organization and as MEC chair, my task is to support the will of the pilot group."
The union surveyed its Mesa members and found 90 percent had lost confidence in their management. "Our operational problems," Ackerman, said, "are taking a huge toll and damaging this company's reputation." However, Ackerman admitted that much of the problems are driven by the performance of the major partner over which the airline has no control. This is especially true for Mesa's United Connection program which includes a program that cancels or delays regional flights before mainline flights.