Northwest pilots oppose the Delta merger as it stands, saying Delta pilots have been offered a deal - increasing their pay and benefits - in which they had no participation.
Northwest MEC [division of union Alpa] chairman Dave Stevens said: ”This agreement clearly disadvantages [our] pilots both with respect to economic issues and seniority list integration. [We] will use all resources available to aggressively oppose the merger. The risk to Northwest Airlines and to the Northwest pilot group from letting this merger proceed, as it is now structured, is simply too great.”
Many of Delta”s more experienced pilots retired early after the airline emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy recently, which has created a seniority mismatch with Northwest”s pilots ” problematic, as experience affects issues such as pay and schedules.
Months of negotiations collapsed around this issue, before Delta went ahead and made a deal with its pilots ” although they have not yet voted to ratify this.
Northwest MEC vice chairman Monty Montgomery added: ”Inexplicably, the Delta MEC [separate Alpa division] has abandoned the joint pilot contract approach and has, instead, agreed to a new Delta pilot contract amendment which will increase the pay and benefits for only Delta pilots.”
However, an Alpa spokesman independent of the two carriers told ABTN that the issue is by no means insurmountable - ”In general, Northwest pilots have a bit more longevity, and that is a problem, but history shows pilots do eventually work those problems out.”
”We definitely need to get a deal with Northwest pilots, but there”s no reason to think that”s not do-able ” it”s essential in fact. Because they are unhappy right now, that”s not the end of the world. The Delta pilots” deal does not apply until the merger is completed, and it can”t be completed without Northwest pilots so they haven”t lost out yet ” they just don”t have a tentative agreement in hand.”
Delta MEC chairman Lee Moak wrote in a letter to members: ”Let”s be clear about one thing in particular: the Delta MEC welcomes the Northwest pilots as partners in the building of the new merged airline, and look forward to working with the Northwest MEC to bring about the rapid completion of a new joint contract and a fair and equitable integrated seniority list.”
Many other factors will determine when consolidation might eventually occur between these airlines, but it is thought they want to merge before a change in the White House ” US elections are in November ” in case the deal is politicised and potentially disrupted.