RAA 2015: Employee engagement concerns Republic

Republic Airways Holdings has begun an internal campaign to re-engage its workforce following a survey on the subject which alarmed senior management.

Bryan Bedford, the company’s president, chairman and CEO, admitted that employee engagement has been a challenge, not just among pilots – whose contract negotiations are ongoing – and engineers, but others too.

“The results were average and we didn’t like that as we think Republic has to have the best products, people and performance,” Bedford remarked. “There were concerns relating to the commitment levels, with some people feeling trapped because they had attained a certain level of seniority, but didn’t want to move on if it meant re-starting [lower down the ladder].”

Progress on the pilot contract is being made however. “There have been significant pilot contracts talks going on with the United Brotherhood of Teamsters (UBT). The previous contract expired eight years ago and a tentative agreement (TA) was turned down in 2014,” Bedford reported.

“Now, there are new union representatives in place as the previous reps’ three-year term ended in December 2014 and others were voted in. Negotiations have restarted and we hope to have a new deal ratified in the near future,” he continued. “The difference between these negotiations and those which produced the last TA is that we’ve opened up all 30 sections of the agreement, rather than just four. We’ve now closed about 22 sections, so now we’ve got the difficult sections like performance and productivity to close.”

Bedford also observed that staff contracts nowadays are not just about money, but about each employee’s quality of life.

Turning to operations, Bedford highlighted that the company is undergoing a “fairly substantial fleet transformation”. This involves removing Bombardier Q400s and adding 60 of the upgraded version of the Embraer 175.

“I don’t think anyone on the books of the RAA has more growth happening to them than ourselves. We’ve just finished the growth for American Airlines and will be growing the United business from August,” Bedford commented.

“In attempts to streamline the company by moving from three certificates to two [Chautauqua Airlines has already been dropped] on a pathway to one AOC, the 50-seat operations took a detour as Delta added another five years to its agreement, taking the operation of those aircraft out to 2021,” he added.

On Republic’s CSeries order, Bedford said the company continues to have a deep engagement in the programme. “We certainly understand the potential of the aircraft – it’s a great machine.” But he gave no hint as to how it might be utilised.

Bedford also admitted that there is potential for Republic, already the largest E-Jet operator in the world, to acquire E2s especially as the company “is a great supporter of the geared turbofan technology” the family’s engines have. “The challenge on the E175-E2 is that it’s not scope compliant,” Bedford stressed.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
Cleveland, Ohio

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