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Well-known member
Mar 7, 2005
Northwest partners up in the air

Liz Fedor, Star Tribune October 5, 2005 NWAREGION1005

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document.write(''); Layoffs and pay cuts have dogged Northwest Airlines employees for years, but the big carrier's bankruptcy filing has brought those labor threats to the workers at Northwest's regional partners, Mesaba and Pinnacle airlines.
Tom Wychor, chairman of the Mesaba Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), said Tuesday that management has "asked for concessionary bargaining."
Mesaba already has furloughed 13 pilots who were in a training program. The pilots union notified its members Tuesday night that those pilots were furloughed without 14 days' notice, and those job cuts take effect today.
Mesaba employs just fewer than 1,000 pilots, and union leaders are expecting more pilot furloughs.
At Mesaba, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) was told Thursday that the company needs its members to take 10 percent pay cuts. Mediated talks between Mesaba and AMFA have been stalled since December, but they were restarted last week -- less than two weeks after Northwest filed for bankruptcy.
At Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines, management is hosting a webcast today to update employees on how Northwest's bankruptcy is affecting the airline.
Mesaba and Pinnacle get their passengers from Northwest, which sets their schedules and fares for regional flights. Northwest refused to pay Mesaba and Pinnacle for some of their flight operations that occurred before the Sept. 14 bankruptcy filing.
Mesaba's revenue is down $28 million because of Northwest's missed payments. In regulatory filings, Pinnacle said that Northwest still owed it $22 million and the regional airline drew $17 million from a Tennessee bank from a revolving line of credit.
Both airlines expect to receive full payments for all flying they've done since the bankruptcy filing, but both carriers are cutting their budgets because Northwest will reduce their fleets.
At a meeting for unsecured creditors Friday in New York, Northwest executives said they intend to fly 10 percent fewer seat miles for their domestic operations.
Effective Oct. 31, Northwest plans to park 15 of the 139 Canadair Regional Jets (CRJs) now flown by Pinnacle. Those planes are equipped with 44 or 50 seats.
Northwest also has decided to remove nine of the 35 Avros from Mesaba's fleet but could drop all of the 69-seat jets unless it can get better terms on the planes' leases.
Mesaba spokeswoman Elizabeth Costello said that Mesaba has taken delivery on two of the 15 CRJs that Northwest allocated to the regional carrier earlier this year. But Northwest spokesman Bill Mellon declined Tuesday to comment on whether Mesaba would receive the remaining allotment of CRJs.
Costello said Tuesday that total layoff estimates are not available for Mesaba's workforce. The company employs about 3,945 people, including about 1,585 in the Twin Cities.
Two days before the Northwest bankruptcy filing, two Northwest executives, Tim Griffin and Robert Isom, resigned from Pinnacle's board of directors. Northwest CEO Doug Steenland also has resigned from the board of Mesaba's parent company, MAIR Holdings Inc.
But Steenland has said since the bankruptcy that Pinnacle and Mesaba will play roles in Northwest's future.
Phil Reed, Pinnacle's vice president of marketing, said Tuesday that more than 70 employees responded to an offer of voluntary leaves.
Reed declined to disclose an overall cost-savings goal for Pinnacle. Also, he said, "We do not have a target number of leaves or furloughs."
Pinnacle employs about 3,600 people and flies out of Northwest's three hubs: the Twin Cities, Detroit and Memphis.
Pinnacle has been growing rapidly and took delivery of its last CRJ in July.
Wakefield Gordon, chairman of the Pinnacle ALPA, hopes that pilot furloughs will be limited. "All summer we have been terribly understaffed from a pilots standpoint," he said, "and the levels of mandatory overtime were at record levels."
One issue that also will complicate Northwest's relationship with its regional carriers is who flies jets that seat 70 to 100 people. Northwest has proposed creating a subsidiary for that flying or using an existing regional carrier to operate those planes. Northwest's pilots union is fighting hard to retain flying for that size of aircraft.
Gordon said there are many uncertainties facing Pinnacle and its employees. "I don't know if we're going to get more equipment. I don't know if we're going to get bigger equipment. But I do believe that Pinnacle is a company very well positioned in the marketplace from a cost standpoint."
Pinnacle pilots have been in contract talks since February, and several negotiating sessions are scheduled for this month.
Mesaba pilots reached their most recent contract agreement in January 2004. In a hot-line message Tuesday night, Mesaba ALPA officials said that chairman Wychor spoke with Mesaba President John Spanjers on Tuesday. Union leaders said they will need to conduct a "full financial analysis" before deciding whether to open a new round of negotiations.
Liz Fedor is at

Boys and girls we make just as much as any other regional no need to give back!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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