Sep. 30--The remaining legacy flight crews from Midwest Airlines will lose their jobs by Dec. 1 when the carrier's last group of Boeing 717 jets are replaced with aircraft operated by Midwest's new owner, Republic Airways Holdings Inc.
Midwest is laying off 120 pilots and flight attendants, along with 50 or so other employees, said Toni Higgins, president of the Midwest chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants. The layoffs will take effect beginning in November, she said.
Higgins and Bryan Jandorf, spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association's Midwest chapter, both called it sad news for long-time employees who helped build Midwest's reputation for excellent customer service.
"There is no 'real' Midwest Airlines without the people, only a name," Higgins said.
The Boeing 717s were the main fleet used by Oak Creek-based Midwest in recent years. Those jets are being replaced by Republic-staffed Embraer E190 jets, and by Airbus A319 aircraft from Denver-based Frontier Airlines, which Republic is buying. Midwest also is using Embraer E170 and regional aircraft staffed by Republic crews.
The unions representing the Midwest legacy crews have tried to negotiate agreements with the Teamsters chapters that represent Republic fight crews to combine seniority lists from both airlines. The Midwest crews have more seniority, and earn higher salaries, than their Republic counterparts.
So far, there's been no progress in those talks, which have gone before arbitration panels.
Jandorf believes Midwest pilots who were working when Republic bought Midwest on July 31 will be integrated into the Republic seniority list.
But the Teamsters union representing Republic pilots wants the Frontier pilots, also represented by the Teamsters, integrated into that list, Jandorf said. Republic Chief Executive Officer Bryan Bedford opposes that move, saying Frontier should be managed separately. That dispute has delayed the integration, Jandorf said.
There will be opportunities for Midwest legacy flight crews to again work for the airline once the unions have established senior list agreements, said Republic spokesman Carlo Bertolini.
Meanwhile, Republic is still considering a shift of 150 to 400 jobs from Frontier operations in Denver and Las Cruces, N.M., to the Milwaukee area. Those jobs, including customer service and maintenance positions, could end up in Denver, Milwaukee or Indianapolis, where Republic is based, Bedford told the Journal Sentinel on Sept. 3.