US Airways Pilots Discuss Pay Cuts

The union representing US Airways (search) pilots met Tuesday to discuss the airline's proposal to slash pay and benefits for pilots, a day after salary and job cuts were announced for the airline's management.

Leaders of the Air Line Pilots Association (search) said US Airways' decision to slash $45 million a year in pay and benefits to roughly 3,700 management employee was welcome news, but does not mean an agreement with pilots is a done deal. Union leaders met with advisers Tuesday morning outside Pittsburgh International Airport (search) to decide whether to allow the approximately 2,500 union pilots to vote on a five-year contract that would save the bankrupt airline $300 million annually.

But the union said it was fully aware what would happen if concessions were not made. The company has said if it can't get concessions, it will seek permanent cuts in bankruptcy court.

Proposed cuts for pilots "will look like nirvana compared with what will come down after that," said Jack Stephan, a union spokesman.

The nation's seventh-largest airline declared bankruptcy protection this year for the second time, citing inability to cut costs.

US Airways says without concessions from the union, it will have to liquidate the company by mid-February. On Thursday, the airlines plans to ask a bankruptcy court judge to make temporary cuts of 23 percent on all union workers and make cuts in its retirement plans.

The planned management cuts include hundreds of layoffs and would shed at least $45 million from the $201 million collective payroll for management workers. The approximately 10 percent cut to upper ranks in the company would be made through attrition, the company said.

The company employs 28,000 workers in its mainline operations and about 34,000 workers overall, with its main hub in Charlotte, N.C. It has a hub in Philadelphia but has reduced flights to its former hub in Pittsburgh, where the airport is being downgraded to a so-called "focus city."

About 84 percent of the airline's workers are covered under union contracts, according to the company's annual report.