The first week of bankruptcy for Delta and Northwest was cruel to employees, aircraft owners and most others except bankruptcy lawyers, writes David Field in Washington DC.

Delta, which had slashed about 24,000 jobs since 2001, is to cut 9,000 more and reduce non-union pay by 7-10% as it focuses on its Atlanta and Salt Lake City hubs, trimming domestic capacity by 20%. Northwest says it will lay off 400 pilots and 1,400 flight attendants.

Hit by a surge in pilot retirements – over 200 in the fortnight before its 14 September filing – Delta may cut back on one-time lump-sum payments to pilots at retirement, says the head of the Delta Air Line Pilots Association. Over 2,300 Delta pilots have retired since January 2003, the union says, creating a shortfall in the company’s pension fund and leading management to express concern that it would not have sufficient cockpit crews for its widebodies.

Northwest has listed 100 leased aircraft it plans to leave to their owners, including eight Boeing 747-200s, 28 757-200s, a number of Airbus A320s, and 33 BAE Systems146/Avro RJ85 family regional jets it leases on behalf its Airlink feeder Mesaba. Delta has rejected leases for 40 aircraft it had already retired and is to cut another 80 by the end of next year.

Source: Flight International