Delta Makes Some Concessions to Pilots

Bankrupt Delta Air Lines said Friday it has modestly cut the amount of savings it requires from pilots and has offered them $300 million if the airline terminates their pension plan.

A Delta spokesman said the No. 3 U.S. carrier has cut its savings demand to $315 million from $325 million as it bargains with the pilots union for a new contract. The union, however, kept its strike threat alive saying Delta's changes to the proposal were insufficient.

In a negotiations update memo to Delta's senior management, the airline said the lowered concessions target amounts to about 1 percent of pay.

"That change requires Delta to accept greater risk in our restructuring plan, but we feel such a move is worthwhile to demonstrate our preference to achieve a consensual agreement," the carrier said in the memo.

A key sticking point in negotiations is the fate of the pilots' $1.89 billion pension plan. The carrier said it has not decided whether to terminate the plan, but it has offered a $300 million interest-bearing note if it decides to do so.

The pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association, considers the modifications in Delta's proposal to be "minor cosmetic changes," said union spokeswoman Kelly Collins.

"The union was disappointed that that was what the airline brought to the table," she said.

Collins, however, said ALPA is hopeful of reaching a contract without a work stoppage.

ALPA has taken steps toward a possible strike over the potential cut to its pension plan and other contract issues. The union has promised to strike if Delta voids the contract.

Atlanta-based Delta and its pilots reached an interim agreement in December and are scheduled to reach a final deal on a new labor contract by March 1.

Delta, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, has said it needs $3 billion in cost savings and revenue increases to survive.