Comair Seeks to Impose Cuts on Pilots

Delta Air Lines Inc. subsidiary Comair said Monday it plans to ask a bankruptcy court this week to allow it to impose contract concessions on pilots if the two sides cannot reach an agreement.

Comair, based in nearby Erlanger, Ky., says it needs labor concessions to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed last year, when Delta also filed for bankruptcy. The airline is seeking cuts from the pilots of $15.8 million in pay and benefits changes, Comair spokeswoman Kate Marx said.

Marx said the regional airline informed the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents some 1,500 pilots, of their intention to file the motion during a meeting in Washington on Monday. The two sides are scheduled to meet again Tuesday.

Paul Denke, a union spokesman, said the timing of the announcement during negotiations shows ill will toward the pilots and other employees.

"We were looking forward to mending the fence, so to speak. It feels like management just wants to destroy it," Denke said.

The airline considers it necessary to file the motion now because the pilots will receive an average 8 percent raise in January if a new agreement is not reached, Marx said.

"An 8 percent increase would place Comair even farther out of market," she said.

Comair recently reached an agreement with the Machinists union and a tentative deal with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union that represents flight attendants. The tentative agreement must be ratified by the membership.

In a memo, Comair President Don Bornhorst said, "A revised pilot agreement truly represents the final substantial piece of the puzzle."

He said the airline has no indication that it can reach an agreement with the pilots union. Negotiations began in July.

The pilots have said that the givebacks they are being asked to provide would amount to more than the airline says. Both sides say they will continue to negotiate.

Comair has 6,500 employees and operates 882 flights daily to 103 cities.


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