Delta airline pilots won support Thursday from the pilots of eight other airlines in their labor dispute with the airline, which is calling for long-term pay cuts and a revision of pension schemes.
Lee Moak, a union leader of Delta Air Lines Inc. pilots, signed an agreement with six international airlines and two other U.S. companies pledging their "wholehearted and unwavering support" for any action the Delta pilots may take if their contract is rejected.
The dispute at Delta, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last September, has gone to a three-member arbitration committee. Hearings begin Monday by the committee, which must decide by April 15 whether the pilots contract may be abrogated.
"If our contract is rejected, we will strike," said Moak.
The nine airlines are part of the Skyteam code-sharing alliance. They include KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, Korean Air, Alitalia, AeroMexico, CSA Czech Airlines, plus U.S. carriers Northwest and Continental.
Delta, the third largest U.S. carrier, is seeking to void the contract so it can impose up to US$325 million (euro273 million) in cuts. Its management has said a pilots strike would put it out of business.
Rene De Groot, chairman of the Dutch pilot's union, said a strike at Delta would affect all the airlines in the international alliance. "In global aviation, you cannot see this as just a local dispute. It's going to influence all of us," he said.
The agreement did not specify what actions other pilots would take to support their Delta colleagues.
De Groot said it would require a vote of the KLM and Air France pilots to join any strike called by Delta pilots. KLM and Air France have merged under a single holding company, though their airlines remain separate.
"We would do everything to make a strike a success," De Groot said.
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