Will Be Put To Vote Mid-May... After NWA Pilots Vote On Their
Is it a sign of a cooling-off in the
heated relationship between Delta Air Lines and its pilots? Well,
perhaps not yet... but in a definite step in the right direction,
leaders of Delta's pilots union agreed late Friday to support the
tentative pay deal negotiators hashed out one week before.
With the leadership's approval, the contract will now be put to
vote in mid-May. The Financial Times reports the airline's 5,390
pilots will have until the end of that month to vote on the deal --
which the airline confirmed Saturday includes around $280 million
in annual savings for the airline, as well as making permanent a
once-temporary pay cut agreed to last December.
Delta also stated the overall deal
had been changed to consider "the likelihood" that the airline
would terminate its pension plan, and turn it over to the Federal
pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Pilots at Delta had threatened to strike if the airline had been
granted permission to toss out their existing contract by a federal
arbitration panel, which was called in after initial talks between
the two groups fell apart. While that threat has lessened in light
of recent developments, it hasn't faded completely -- especially in
the minds of travellers, many of whom made other arrangements just
in case Delta stopped flying.
Labor experts report Delta's pilots remain split on the proposed
deal... but also that those pilots tended to follow their
In any event, pilots at Delta will have the chance to watch as
another pilot labor crisis plays out before they vote on their
deal: pilots at Northwest Airlines -- which, like Delta, declared
Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 14, 2005 -- are due to finish
voting on their tentative contract on May 3. Like their compatriots
at Delta, Northwest's pilots have also threatened to walkout if
management imposes new terms, should the tentative offer be
A "sneak preview" of the outcome of that vote may come as soon
as Tuesday, according to the Financial Times. Union leaders will
vote April 25 on whether to recall the chairman and vice-chairman
of the union.