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Comair pilots agree to postpone deadline for wage-cutting deal, averting weekend strike

Comair pilots agree to postpone deadline for wage-cutting deal, averting weekend strike

Union leaders representing Comair pilots agreed to postpone the deadline for reaching a consensual wage-cutting deal, averting the possibility of a holiday weekend strike.
Comair pilots had authorized union leaders to call a strike if the Delta Air Lines Inc. subsidiary throws out their contract and imposes wage cuts and other concessions on them. The airline had planned to do that on Saturday if a deal was not reached by then on pilot concessions the airline says it must have to emerge from bankruptcy.
A lawyer for Comair on Thursday had asked a federal bankruptcy judge in New York to delay making a decision about the company's request to block pilots from striking pending a vote by union leaders Thursday night on whether to approve a deferral of the deadline.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 1,500 Comair pilots, agreed late Thursday night to a deferral until Feb. 2, and both sides will continue to negotiate in an effort to reach a consensual deal. The agreement also leaves pilot pay at its current level during the deferral period.
"It's good news for the traveling public," said union spokesman Paul Denke. "Our focus hasn't changed. We are still committed to reaching a fair and consensual deal.
Comair spokeswoman Kate Marx said the company agreed to the deferral as a way to continue working toward a consensual labor agreement. The airline's pilots fly 795 daily flights to about 100 cities throughout North America.
Denke said no schedule for the continuing negotiations had been determined as of Thursday night.
Comair had said it would impose $15.8 million (euro12 million) in annual concessions Saturday if a deal was not reached by then and that it was under time pressure to do so because part of its contract requires that beginning Monday, it would be forced to pay an additional $8 million (euro6.1 million) a year to pilots. Comair is seeking savings of $70 million (euro53.1 million) a year, as it works toward exiting bankruptcy along with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
Comair's plan also includes concessions from its flight attendants and mechanics.
The Erlanger, Kentucky-based Comair, located near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, received permission from Judge Adlai Hardin to impose the wage cuts and changes in work rules on its pilots after the two sides were unable to reach agreement in earlier negotiations.
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AP Business Writer Vinnee Tong in New York contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-03 11:35 GMT+08:00