Hearing on Proposed Delta Pilot Pay Cuts Enters Second Day

Lawyers for Delta Air Lines Inc. and its pilots union were in U.S. Bankruptcy Court a second day Thursday, continuing a hearing over whether Delta can unilaterally impose wage and benefit cuts on more than 6,000 pilots. A ruling was considered unlikely before the Thanksgiving holiday, however.

Thursday's session primarily dealt with the scheduling of pilots and their work environment, with Delta's director of crew resources, David Watson, giving U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Prudence Carter Beatty a primer on airline operations and training.

Faced with rising fuel costs and stiff competition from low-fare competitors, Delta is seeking to slash $325 million from its collective bargaining agreement with its pilots, saying the money is needed to keep its operations running. The Air Line Pilots Association, which has offered $90.7 million in concessions, has threatened to strike if the court grants Delta's request.

If the court approves the cuts, they would be on top of $1 billion in annual concessions the pilots agreed to in a five-year deal reached in 2004. That deal included a 32.5 percent pay cut and has been held up by the union as a sign of their willingness to negotiate.

With multiple witnesses yet to be called on, it was considered unlikely that Beatty would hand down a ruling on the contract Thursday. Court officials said the case would not be heard again until Monday, Nov. 28.

Delta, which filed for Chapter 11 on Sept. 14, has recorded losses of more than $11 billion since January 2001 and over that period has announced it would cut up to 33,000 jobs. Its loss in the third quarter, reported last Thursday, was $1.13 billion.


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