Northwest pilots call merger agreement one-sided

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Pilots at Northwest Airlines claim that the carrier’s proposed merger with Delta Air Lines puts them at a disadvantage, warning that the Minneapolis-based carrier’s pilot group could be on lower pay scales for years.

After months of speculation Delta and Northwest detailed their plans to merge on 14 April in a deal valued at $17.7 billion, with the merged entity retaining the Delta name.

A few weeks ago the merger looked highly unlikely after pilots at the airlines, both represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), failed to reach an agreement on seniority integration.

 
 © Delta

Northwest ALPA union leaders told their members in an update the carrier’s pilots “will be disadvantaged in obtaining a joint contract and potentially in the seniority list integration process”.

The carrier’s ALPA division believes that pilot leadership at Delta abandoned the joint pilot approach and “agreed to a new Delta pilot contract that increased the pay and benefits for their pilots only”.

Delta management and the carrier’s ALPA negotiators brokered an agreement that modifies the current pilot working agreement.

Elements of the deal, subject to ratification by the pilots, include an annual 5% pay raise starting in January 2009, and 4% raises every 1 January through 1 January, 2012, an increase in Boeing 737-700 pay rates to match those of the -800 and a 3.5% stake in the merged company. Furlough protections are also an element of the deal.

Delta pilots also agreed to allow the merged company to “retain Northwest’s large stake in Midwest Airlines, while maintaining their separate operational status”.

Explaining they “unanimously adopted and enthusiastically” endorsed the agreement, Delta’s ALPA leaders are strongly encouraging the carrier’s pilots to approve the deal.

Despite previously failed attempts to reach a seniority integration deal, Delta pilots say they “welcome Northwest pilots as partners” in building the new carrier, and look forward to working with the Northwest pilots to “bring about the rapid completion of a new joint contract and a fair and equitable integrated seniority list”.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news