“The pilots were given a stark choice between holding on to our current contract and seeing Pinnacle wound down or accepting drastic cuts to our pay and work rules in order to save the airline and the jobs of employees in all areas of Pinnacle’s operations,” said Capt. Tom Wychor, chairman of the Pinnacle arm of ALPA. “I am proud of our pilots for making this difficult decision to preserve the company and to move forward as a group. Now we must work to protect our investment by continuing to provide our passengers with safe, reliable, and professional service.”
The new seven-year agreement includes, among other cuts, a 9 percent reduction in pay for all pilots plus longevity caps to all pay scales which will further cut the pay of more than half of Pinnacle’s pilots by as much as another 16 percent. In addition to almost 25 percent pay cuts, the deal also increases health-care costs for all pilots while reducing pilot retirement benefits by more than 50 percent for Pinnacle’s most senior pilots. In recognition of the magnitude of the pilots’ concessions, the contract also includes a bridge agreement that provides a one-time longevity transition payment and guaranteed hiring for many Pinnacle pilots at Delta Air Lines. Pinnacle Airlines flies exclusively as a Delta Connection carrier and Delta will likely own Pinnacle as a result of having provided the financing that allowed Pinnacle to reorganize.
“Management failures are responsible for Pinnacle’s current financial crisis,” Capt. Wychor added, “but only this sacrifice by the pilots could preserve a future for the airline and its employees. In that future, we will seek out new employment opportunities for our pilots who no longer see a viable career path at Pinnacle while we protect and shore up the restructured contract for those who remain.”
The pilot-ratified contract will now be submitted to the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York for final approval.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 51,000 pilots at 35 airlines in the United States and Canada, including the 2,400 pilots at Pinnacle. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.