Delta Air Lines pilots have agreed to enter concessionary talks with management, which insists pilot wage reductions are needed to keep the airline competitive with rivals.

American Airlines and bankrupt United Airlines have both reached labour cost cut deals with their pilots, and Delta chief executive Leo Mullin says his carrier must follow suit. "If we are unsuccessful in achieving a much lower cost structure, there's no way we could succeed. We could lapse into a situation where bankruptcy becomes possible," Mullin said in April, when he approached pilots about concessions. "We have to have a competitive cost structure."


The pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), responded coolly to wage cut talks in April, noting that their labor contract ran through 2005. But the union now is ready to negotiate, according to a message sent out to members last night.

Union leadership says a review of financial details provided by the airline has led it to recommend that its negotiating committee enter into discussion with management.

Delta management has submitted a two-phase proposal to ALPA that would reduce pilots' hourly wages by 22%, rescind a pay increase that took effect on 1 May, and eliminate a similar pay hike set to take effect on 1 May 2004. Delta also wants to cut its contribution to a savings plan for pilots from 3% to 2%.

Delta lost $1.3 billion in 2002 and $466 million in the 2003 first quarter.

Source: Flight Daily News