MINNEAPOLIS – Pilots reached a tentative pay-cut deal with Northwest Airlines Corp. on Friday, a major step toward ending a showdown that put the bankrupt airline's future in doubt.
The Northwest branch of the Air Line Pilots Association announced the agreement but didn't release details.
The deal would still have to be approved by the union's leadership and members. The union said its leaders would meet Friday night to consider the agreement.
Pilots were the last Northwest union without a deal.
"The tentative agreement is a painful but necessary part of a successful restructuring of Northwest Airlines," said Mark McClain, head of the Northwest branch of ALPA. "If all of us can distance ourselves from these recent labor struggles and focus on ensuring the future success of Northwest we can begin looking forward to our emergence from bankruptcy as a proud and profitable airline."
Northwest had been seeking to reject its contract with pilots if they didn't agree to pay-cuts and changes in work rules. Intense negotiations took place in New York all week. The stakes rose on Wednesday, when a bankruptcy court judge could have ruled on Northwest's request but chose to wait to give negotiators more time.
The bankruptcy law would have allowed Northwest to impose its terms even without the judge's ruling, but pilots threatened to strike if that happened. Northwest has said a strike could have killed it.
Northwest filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 14, and continued its pre-bankruptcy push for $1.4 billion in pay cuts from all its workers.
Pilots had already taken a 15 percent pay cut in late 2004 and another, temporary 24 percent pay cut in bankruptcy. A permanent pay cut was part of the latest round of talks, along with Northwest's push for more flexibility in who flies its smaller jets. Pilots were seeking to own part of Northwest once it emerges from Chapter 11.
On Wednesday, flight attendants reached a tentative agreement with the airline. The airline's baggage handlers and other groundworkers are also voting on whether to accept their own tentative agreement with Northwest.