Comair, pilots nearing deadline for contract dealWritten by Associated Press | | email@example.com
Time is running out for Comair and its pilots to reach an agreement on wage
cuts and other concessions.
Air Lines Inc. subsidiary and the union representing its 1,500 pilots enter
their final negotiations this week.
said that it could impose concessions on its pilots on Friday if no agreement
has been reached. But the company probably won’t take that action until a
federal bankruptcy judge rules on Comair’s request that the court block pilots
hopeful that our discussions in the coming days will be productive, but we also
have to plan for the possibility that we will not reach an agreement,” Comair
spokeswoman Kate Marx said Friday.
authorized union leaders to call a strike if Comair throws out their contract
and imposes $15.8 million in annual concessions.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Adlai Hardin Jr. in December to bar pilots from striking
but later asked the judge to postpone his ruling while negotiations continued.
The airline said it will ask the judge to make his decision on Thursday.
that the company would rather litigate than negotiate,” Paul Denke, spokesman
for the Air Line Pilots Association that represents Comair pilots, said Friday.
still hopes agree with Comair on a deal that both sides see as fair, Denke
said, but a court order blocking a strike would cause more pilots to leave the
“A lot of
them who would rather stay at Comair will be forced to seek other jobs that
have competitive wages, some job security and retirement,” he said.
the union avoided a near-breakdown in negotiations last month, two days before
the original Dec. 30 deadline that the airline had set for imposing those
concessions. The two sides agreed to resume negotiations this month with help
from a private mediator. Final talks are scheduled Tuesday through Thursday
this week in Washington, D.C.
analyst said Comair must have concessions to be competitive.
“Some – if
not all – of their business will go to somebody else, and there are a number of
regional airlines out there hungry for more business,” said Ray Neidl, an
analyst with Calyon Securities Inc.
Delta is trying to get costs down as much as possible because it is intent on
getting out of bankruptcy by April, he said. Delta, along with Comair, filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2005. Since then, Tempe, Ariz.-based US
Airways Group Inc. has made a hostile bid to buy Delta.
based in Erlanger, Ky., near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International
Airport, is seeking $70 million in savings as it tries to emerge from
bankruptcy along with Delta.
previously had an agreement with its pilots for $17.3 million in annual cuts
over the next four years. But that was contingent on Comair getting a certain
level of savings from its flight attendants and mechanics union.
flight attendants approved a deal last month to cut annual costs by $7.9
million, $1 million less than originally required, the airline had to negotiate
new deals with the machinists and pilots. The machinists agreed to a modified
deal, but the pilots did not.
795 flights daily to about 100 cities in North America.