Bankrupt Mesaba Aviation Inc., which provides Northwest Airlines service at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity, is facing a possible strike by its unions.
But Northwest Airlines says it has a contingency plan to continue service if a strike happens, a spokesman said. Northwest did not divulge details of its plan.
"We have an agreement with Northwest for them to provide service, and it's up to them to provide a contingency plan. We'll have to wait and see what happens," said Eugene Lakin, executive director of Westmoreland County's airport authority.
Northwest has been flying out of Arnold Palmer Regional since April 2005.
"We remain hopeful that Mesaba will reach consensual agreement with all of its unions, resulting in no impact on Northwest's schedule. However, if schedule interruptions do occur, Northwest has a contingency plan to accommodate customers," said spokesman Roman Blahoski.
Northwest flies twice daily out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport to Detroit Metro Airport. Flights depart at 6:40 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. Arrivals are at 3:39 p.m. and 10:27 p.m. Northwest flies a 34-passenger Saab 340 turboprop aircraft out of the airport.
Northwest passenger numbers at Arnold Palmer Regional last month totaled 1,220 passengers, a load factor of 62 percent capacity, said Dwayne Pickels, authority spokesman.
Mesaba employs eight workers at Arnold Palmer Regional, including a full-time manager and one full-time customer service agent. Mesaba employs six part-time customer service agents.
Mesaba pilots, flight attendants and mechanics offered to take 15 percent pay cuts in a three-year contract, plus bigger concessions on health benefits. The bankrupt airline has said it needs 19 percent cuts lasting six years so it can negotiate a new agreement as a regional carrier feeding Northwest.
Mesaba said the union's offer falls short of what it needs and is seeking court permission to impose terms against the unions' will on Sunday. The unions have said they will strike if that happens, and that travelers should avoid Northwest regional flights that day. Earlier, Mesaba asked a judge to block a strike, which it said would force it to liquidate.
"We're in bankruptcy, and we believe a strike is illegal. We're still negotiating, and we intend to fly a full schedule," Elizabeth Costello, spokeswoman for Mesaba Airlines, said.
Northwest has been operating under bankruptcy protection since September 2005. Mesaba filed for bankruptcy protection one month later.
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