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US Air, Pilots Still Talking

Pilots from the carrier and the former America West finally agreed to a seniority list, as talks resume.
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US Airways


CEO Doug Parker says he is eager to negotiate a new pilots contract but has no timetable for adopting the controversial seniority ruling approved this week by the Air Line Pilots Association.

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"I don't believe we're going to get a contract ratified that has that list go into effect immediately," Parker says. "There's no way."

Seniority is critical to pilots, because it determines salaries and schedules. Following the 2005 merger of US Airways with America West, an arbitrator ruled on combining the two carriers' seniority lists. That ruling, which generally favors younger America West pilots over older US Airways pilots, has provoked bitter sparring between the two groups. (Within the airline, the predecessor carriers are generally referred to as "east" and "west.)

This week, national ALPA leaders approved the ruling and agreed to turn the merged list over to the airline. But it "doesn't go into effect until we negotiate a contract," Parker said. "We need pilots to come together on what they want to do." Contract talks are scheduled to restart Monday in Washington, D.C. East pilots have declined to participate until their salaries rise to west-pilot levels.

"We've had two pilot groups since the merger," Parker said. While "we clearly can do this for a long time, we don't want to. The company doesn't get any huge financial benefit from integrating the pilots, but we do get a benefit from having people work together and having an agreement. We want ... to stop the bickering."

Parker repeatedly declined to respond to questions about how long seniority integration could be delayed. "We have not given any timeframe," he said. "We don't have a position. Our position is we want the pilots to agree."