US Airways, pilots union plan to meet regularly on concessions

Carrier trying to avoid second bankruptcy filing

August 13, 2004|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

ARLINGTON, Va. - US Airways Group Inc. and its pilots union will begin meeting every weekday starting today to speed talks on $300 million in proposed concessions that would help the carrier avoid a second bankruptcy filing.

The meetings at the airline's headquarters follow "irregular" sessions, Air Line Pilots Association spokesman Jack Stephan said yesterday. Company executives, including Chief Executive Officer Bruce Lakefield, made a presentation Wednesday to the union, which represents about 3,000 active pilots and 1,879 who have been laid off.

"Both sides realized we need to pick up the pace a little bit," Stephan said. He declined to discuss the presentation.

US Airways, the No. 7 U.S. airline, wants agreements with the pilots and other labor groups by the end of next month to help cut labor costs $800 million annually. The company is trying to stem losses, meet Sept. 30 loan terms and avoid filing for bankruptcy protection. It left Chapter 11 reorganization at the end of this year's first quarter.

"We said from the beginning that there's a great sense of urgency to reach and have ratified agreements in the month of September," US Airways spokesman David Castelveter said.

The company also is negotiating with the Association of Flight Attendants, which received a proposal from the airline in the last week of July, and with the Communications Workers of America, which represents customer-service agents.

US Airways is seeking to reduce overall costs by $1.5 billion, including $700 million in savings from other operating costs. It plans to cut expenses by selling more tickets over the Internet.

The carrier also will decrease flights that involve transfers at hub airports and will boost direct flights, especially from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and New York.

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