Northwest Pilots, Ground Worker Deals Approved by Bankruptcy Court

A U.S. bankruptcy court Tuesday approved deals between Northwest Airlines and its pilots and ground workers unions, bringing the carrier a step closer to a $1.4 billion labor-cost savings target.

Judge Allan Gropper approved the airline's agreements with the Air Line Pilots Association and three groups represented by the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

The airline, which filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in September, must now also have concessions in place with its flight attendants union and a small group of workers represented by the IAM before it can begin to realize any of those savings.

A lawyer for Northwest said that the airline hopes to be able to implement the agreements by July 1.

The flight attendants — represented by the Professional Flight Attendants Association — last week rejected a tentative deal that promised the airline $195 million in savings, calling it "harsh and overreaching."

The two sides are scheduled to resume negotiations Wednesday and have set a June 30 deadline to reach a new deal.

Northwest is also negotiating with the IAM for a new contract for its 40 flight simulator technicians and simulator support specialists, who also rejected a tentative labor agreement in March.