USAIR HAS ABANDONED efforts to win $2.5 billion in union concessions over the next five years, and plans instead to negotiate labour savings in contract talks.

The decision to drop the talks with four unions follows disclosure of a $113 million second-quarter net profit. Union workers appear to believe that concessions are no longer necessary.

Seth Schofield, USAir's chairman and chief executive, says that, "an impasse on key issues made the shift necessary. We still intend to achieve the labour cost savings we need, but it appears it will be by a more traditional route." The move has the backing of major shareholder British Airways.

USAir had required all the unions covering major employee groups, such as pilots, cabin crew and maintenance workers, to join in the cost-cutting, but the deal began unraveling recently when the Association of Flight Attendants rejected a tentative agreement. Other groups then followed suit.

The Air Line Pilots Association says that the move is a mistake, since there will be no "traditional solution" at USAir. The contracts for all four unions come up for negotiation in the next 18 months.

Source: Flight International