Originally created 02/11/06

Delta pilots will want pay levels restored



ATLANTA - A Delta Air Lines Inc. official told management employees Friday that the company's pilots are asking that their wage scales be restored to December 2004 levels after a certain period.

Dan Lewis, the company's vice president of corporate communications, said in a memo to officers and directors that the request was made in the latest offer on new pay and benefit cuts by the union representing Delta's 6,000 pilots.

Mr. Lewis said the union also wants an interest-bearing note of roughly $1 billion, presumably in case the pilots' defined benefit pension is terminated. Mr. Lewis said Delta has offered the pilots a $300 million note.

The newly revealed terms come as negotiators for both sides try to reach a pact on a second round of concessions before a March 1 deadline. If they can't, a three-person arbitration panel will decide Delta's request that its contract with its pilots be thrown out so the company can impose $325 million in cuts unilaterally.

The chairman of the union's executive committee, Lee Moak, said Thursday that the pilots will strike if their contract is thrown out. The company has said a strike would put the nation's third-largest carrier out of business.

In late 2004, Delta's pilots agreed to $1 billion in annual concessions, which included a 32.5 percent pay cut. The company's latest proposal asks for an 18 percent pay reduction, Mr. Lewis said. The union wants pay scales restored to the levels after the 2004 deal after a certain period, Mr. Lewis said. He didn't specify the period.

A union spokesman, Ken Frydman, did not immediately respond Friday to questions about the company memo.

Delta, which filed for bankruptcy protection in September, has said that it needs $325 million in new concessions from its pilots. The pilots' latest offer calls for $115 million in annual concessions.

Delta has reported $11.6 billion in losses since January 2001. It will report its fourth-quarter and year-end 2005 results Tuesday.