The pilots union at bankrupt Delta Air Lines Inc. said in a court filing it is offering the carrier an average of nearly $91 million a year in concessions, which the union contends is sufficient to help Delta trim labor costs to a competitive level.
The disclosure came Thursday in an objection the Air Line Pilots Association filed in response to Delta's request to void its pilot contract. If granted, Delta is likely to impose $325 million in concessions, including a 19.5 percent pay cut and other benefit and work rule changes.
Atlanta-based Delta currently has about 6,000 active pilots, who agreed last year to $1 billion in contract concessions as the airline sought to avoid Chapter 11.
The union filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York said Delta's Sept. 14 bankruptcy was not because of its labor contract, or competition from discount carriers, but was caused by soaring fuel costs.
In its court filing, ALPA said the $90.7 million average annual concessions over four years would be more than enough to meet Delta's stated goal of reducing its pilot costs per available seat mile.
The union said that if Delta rejects its contract "and imposes the draconian terms on the plots set forth in (its) proposal, the pilots will be angry, frustrated and demoralized." The union said the contract's rejection would give pilots the right to strike, and it warned a walkout would devastate Delta.
Company spokeswoman Chris Kelly would say only that Delta remained committed to reaching a consensual agreement with the union, repeating an earlier statement.
In a letter to pilots Wednesday, Lee Moak, the chairman of the union's executive committee, said the pilots "will not willingly work without a contract."
A group representing retired Delta pilots filed a motion Wednesday in bankruptcy court objecting to Delta's request to reject the pilot contract. The objection accused Delta of acting in bad faith by ceasing certain pension payments despite the contract still being in effect.
Also Wednesday, the union encouraged members to pack a Nov. 15 rally scheduled for suburban Atlanta to defend their contract.
Atlanta-based Delta has lost nearly $10 billion since January 2001. The company is scheduled to release its third-quarter results on Thursday.
Delta has said that although it expects a more than $2 billion loss this year before one-time items, it believes it will return to profitability two years from now if, among other things, it can get the pilot concessions it is seeking and jet fuel doesn't get more costly.
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