ERLANGER, Ky - It was just a few days ago that Lynn Dziad celebrated her 22nd anniversary with Comair as a flight attendant.
On Friday, she found out she won't have a job when Comair is grounded by Delta Air lines on Sept. 29.
"Of course, everyone is very saddened by the news. It's difficult news to take," she said. "For many people this wasn't just a lifestyle, but many of us had spent our lives here building this company."
Dziad, who is also the Recording Secretary for Teamsters Local 513, which represents 412 Comair flight attendants, spent much of the day answering phone calls and checking Facebook messages from ex-employees who were extending their condolences.
"Everyone has fond memories," she said. "It was one of their favorite places to work with really incredible people to work with."
Delta is cutting back on the number of older 50-seat regional jets used throughout its system. Comair introduced them into the United States, but they're now becoming more costly to operate compared to newer airplanes.
So, Comair is out and Delta's other regional partners are expected to pick up its flights in and out of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
"Of course, it's very, very sad," Dziad said. "We were the industry leader for many, many years."
According to Dziad, negotiations are already underway with Delta about a possible severance package for displaced flight attendants.
"It's in the very early stages. We're hopeful," she said. "We're also asking for some preferential hiring with some other airlines, possibly Delta."
Dziad said any of her union members would be great hires for another airline or any business.
"We're problem solvers on our feet. If the day falls apart due to weather or maintenance, we just smile and work a longer day," she said. "We work 14 to 16 hour days. We eat standing up. We get nine hours on the ground. We turn around and we do it all over again. We're smiling the entire way through it."
The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is already at work seeing what it can do for the Comair employees, according to Adam Caswell, Vice-President of Public Affairs.
"We're well-known for our workforce development department," he said. "We'll be identifying the needs that are addressed to us by Comair and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport."
That could include job fairs at the airport or reverse job fairs where employees are interviewed about their skill sets and matched with employers that offer the best opportunities.
The airport is already in the midst of reinventing itself in the wake of Delta's pullback of what once was a major hub-and-spoke facility in the nation's airline system.
All carriers have been moved into Terminal 3. Concourse A has been remodeled to include new gates for possible new flights by legacy or low-cost airlines.
DHL is significantly expanding its international operation on the airport property and that is propelling additional development in the region.
The Kentucky Legislature is even looking at ways to help.
Rep. Adam Koenig said a bill was considered in the recent session that would allow the airport to hire some of the baggage workers currently employed by Delta. That would help cut the airline's costs.
"This legislation would have encouraged that transition," he said. "However, it got hung up over the potential cost of being in the state pension system."
Caswell said the good news emerging Friday was that travelers in Greater Cincinnati shouldn't see any disruption in service.
"We've been told that of the 25 business markets currently served out of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, none of those will be affected," he said.
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