Pilots put off the tough one at Delta, Northwest

ImageView.jpgNo surprises – yet. The pilots at both Delta and Northwest voted overwhelmingly to approve a joint contract for after the two carriers merge. But the joint contract, which pilot union leaders and airline chiefs called historic, really big groundbreaking and huge, does not settle the issue of seniority integration. That will likely be determined by an arbitration panel. In fact, arbitrators have already been chosen to settle the dispute, the very stumbling block that derailed the merger proposal early this year. Will ALPA’s national president, John Prater (left), end up with the hot potato?

But the deal will bring Northwest ALPA pay up to the level of Delta pilots and includes a 5% pay raise in 2009 followed by 4% annual raises from 2010 through 2012. It also includes 3.5% in equity in the combined company for Delta’s ALPA  pilots, of whom about 62% voted for the new contract, and a 2.38% stake for Northwest pilots, of whom about 87% voted yes. Could one say that the two ALPA chapters have bought present peace with a pay raise but risk future dissatisfaction?

The merger won European clearance last week, and should be approved by shareholders in late September. Now if those pesky antitrust division guys would just come through….

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