Comair pilots await airline decision on contract proposal

CINCINNATI (AP) – Comair’s 1,500 pilots are awaiting the regional airline’s response on their contract proposal submitted hours before the Delta Air Lines subsidiary planned to impose wage cuts and other concessions as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy.

Comair set a new deadline of Monday night to enforce the concessions if it rejects the pilots’ proposal.

The old deadline had been Friday night, but the airline delayed the deadline so it could evaluate the pilots’ proposal, Comair spokeswoman Kate Marx said.

Comair has said it must have concessions as part of its restructuring plan to save $70 million annually. Comair, along with its Atlanta-based parent, filed for bankruptcy in September 2005.

No details were released on the pilot’s proposal. The Air Line Pilots Association representing the pilots put it together with the help of outside resources, union spokesman Paul Denke said.

Both sides have continually said their goal was to reach a consensual agreement, but the last round of negotiations ended a week before the Friday deadline.

Comair reached agreements last year with its flight attendants and mechanics, and had said it was prepared to impose $15.8 million in wage cuts and other concessions on the pilots if no agreement was reached.

Comair, based in Erlanger, Ky., near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, previously had an agreement with its pilots for $17.3 million in annual cuts over the next four years. But the deal was contingent on Comair getting a certain level of savings from its flight attendants and mechanics union.

Because the flight attendants approved a deal in November to cut annual costs by $7.9 million, $1 million less than originally required, the airline had to negotiate new deals with the machinists and pilots. The machinists agreed to a modified deal, but the pilots did not.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Adlai Hardin in New York has ruled the airline can impose concessions on the pilots. He also has blocked the union from any job action, including a strike.

Comair operates 795 flights daily to about 100 cities in North America.


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