Notebook: Continental Pilots Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

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Airline stocks are having a volatile week. Here's a compendium of important airline activities.

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Continental and Pilots Come to Terms

Shares of

Continental Airlines

(CAIB)

are up 3/4 to 50 1/4 on heavy volume this afternoon. This action indicates that Wall Street is pleased with the recently confirmed contract between the company and its pilots union.

The tentative five-year agreement reportedly provides pilots for Continental with job protection in case the proposed merger with

Northwest Airlines

(NWAC)

evolves into a full merger. In addition, the contract agreement includes provisions that would ensure Continental pilots would receive a percentage of profits that are achieved as a result of the Northwest-Continental matchup. Officials of both the company and the

Independent Association of Continental Pilots

, however, were tight-lipped about further details of the contract.

These negotiations had turned rather ugly in January, after Continental announced its intention to link up with Northwest. Pilots voiced concerns that the new alliance was merely a "smokescreen" to a full-blown merger and had begun practicing so-called lightning strikes in protest of the stalled negotiations. The company and the union had begun around-the-clock negotiations about a week ago in an attempt to reach some kind of agreement.

The proposed agreement will now be sent to the union membership for a vote.

Ryanair Close to New Jet Purchase

Ryanair

(RYAAY) - Get Report

to pay $3.3 million in additional security payments to the

Airline Reporting Corporation

(ARC). They did not. As a result, the company issued a release this morning stating it would remain a member of ARC, but would set up a revised ticketing and refund procedure.

The company also said in the release that this could "have a material adverse impact on Pan Am's ability to generate sales through the travel agency distribution network." Nah ... you think? Roughly 70% of ticketing for the airline used to come through travel agents, who aren't going to like this situation. Yep, we would tend to agree. It just might have a material adverse effect on Pan Am's fortunes.

Pan Am also had two of its planes repossessed this past weekend by lessors who are apparently done with attempts at talking. One flight landed at Ft. Lauderdale Friday night and was supposed to have continued on to San Juan. Nope. Some very unhappy passengers had to be taken off the airplane. Wouldn't you have liked to have heard that captain's announcement?

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Ah -- we are going to have to ask you to take your belongings and leave. We have a little problem here. The plane is being repossessed." Certainly would instill a sense of confidence in me if I was sitting in seat 3B.

Pan Am stock, which has become a trading haven of late, remains relatively quiet this afternoon. The stock is up 1/16 to 15/16 on more than 830,000 shares traded.

Holly Hegeman, based in Dallas, pilots the Wing Tips column every Thursday for TheStreet.com. This is a "bonus" column. She is long Southwest. You can usually find Holly, publisher of PlaneBusiness Banter, buzzing around her airline industry Web site at www.planebusiness.com. Holly welcomes your feedback at

hhegeman@planebusiness.com.