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Pinnacle Airlines In Bankruptcy Court To Reject Labor Contracts Of Some 2,700 Pilots
By Jim Douglas

October 16, 2012 - Delta Connection Pilots Support Pinnacle Pilots’ Quest to Maintain Industry Standards, Bankruptcy Court Hearings Begin today to Consider Company’s Request to Invalidate CBA.

Delta Connection Pilot Alliance (DCPA), which includes the pilots of Atlantic Southeast, Compass, and Pinnacle Airlines, all represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, expressed their solidarity with the pilots of Pinnacle, who are engaged in a fight to maintain key provisions in their contract while also working to find the cost savings necessary to help their company emerge from bankruptcy. 

On Tuesday, October 16, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York began hearing arguments regarding Pinnacle Airlines’ motion to reject the pilot contract and impose terms on the more than 2,700 pilots who fly for the airline if a tentative agreement cannot be reached. 

The terms currently being sought by management would undercut every other regional carrier pilot contract and provide Pinnacle Airlines with an overwhelming competitive advantage over other carriers who would, in turn, seek concessions from their pilots. 

“Pinnacle management hopes to compel the court to approve a plan that would strip us of our current wage rates, work rules, and benefits, while creating an unfair cost advantage over the rest of the industry,” said Captain Tom Wychor, head of the Pinnacle unit of ALPA. 


“With looming retirements at mainline carriers and an already limited pool of available pilots, regional airlines need to provide their pilots with competitive contracts, fair wages, and an acceptable quality of life. The proposed terms not only would be detrimental to the Pinnacle pilots today, but also would have long-lasting effects on the industry as a whole.” 

Pinnacle management is seeking a 33 percent reduction in pilot costs. These cuts would negate many of the improvements in pilot wages and benefits gained in the 2011 contract that combined the three pilot groups of Colgan, Mesaba, and Pinnacle into one entity. In addition, the terms that Pinnacle proposes are far worse than those negotiated by the Mesaba pilots in the course of their 2006 bankruptcy.



Pinnacle filed for bankruptcy on April 1, 2012, and originally proposed an 18 percent reduction in pilot costs. Following an eight-week hiatus in negotiations over the summer, Pinnacle revised its term sheet and now seeks nearly double the original cost-savings target. The pilot group has offered numerous and innovative cost-saving proposals along with a 2 percent wage cut that meets the company’s original 18 percent target. 

“As pilots serving the same industry segment, we are especially wary of any efforts by our managements to undercut competition by gutting pilot contracts,” commented Captain David Nieuwenhuis, head of the Atlantic Southeast unit of ALPA and chair of the DCPA. “Pinnacle management is attempting to win by racing to the bottom with the help of courts, but that’s a race all of us, including our companies and passengers, will inevitably lose.”
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