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Republic Airways pilots reject contract offer

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Pilots for Indianapolis-based Republic Airways overwhelmingly rejected a proposed 4-year contract that the company said would have put them at or near the top of wages for pilots at regional airlines.

The voting that ended Friday affected more than 2,200 pilots represented by the Teamsters. The union said 85 percent of ballots cast were against ratification.

Republic Airways Holdings Inc. operates Republic Airlines, Chautauqua Airlines and Shuttle America, which operate flights for bigger airlines including Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways Express.

Republic CEO Bryan Bedford said he was disappointed in the vote and would work with the Teamsters to determine its next steps. Union local president Craig Moffatt called the offer inadequate and said the Teamsters would come up with a plan for an acceptable agreement.

Republic shares fell 38 cents, or 4.1 percent, to close at $8.88.

The vote came a week after pilots at another regional airline, American Eagle, rejected a proposed 10-year contract despite threats by parent American Airlines Group Inc. that doing so would cause the company to shrink Eagle.

Several regional airlines have said recently that they are struggling to recruit and keep pilots. On Thursday, Silver Airways announced it was doubling its signing bonus for new co-pilots to $12,000 payable over two years.

Pilot unions say pay is too low. The Air Line Pilots Association said average starting pay for a co-pilot at a regional airline is $22,400.

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