Updated from 12:54 a.m. EDTUS Airways ( UAIRQ) pilots have been ordered to return to the negotiating table to hammer out an agreement on wage concessions to help save the already bankrupt airline. After a series of internal meetings in Charlotte, N.C., the union leadership representing US Airways' pilots have agreed to jump-start negotiations on management's latest offer, which the union received on Monday. Two weeks ago, the union balked at putting management's last offer to a general vote, helping push the company into bankruptcy for the second time in two years. "This resolution, passed unanimously by our governing body, allows our pilot negotiators to proceed unrestricted and provides them with a renewed momentum to reach a tentative agreement ... We expect a fair resolution to the unfortunate circumstances we face," said Jack Stephan, spokesman for US Airways' pilots. "Both
"We are experiencing the very real predicaments of a judicial restructuring," said Bill Pollock, chairman of the pilots union, in a message to pilots. "Without a pre-bankruptcy negotiated agreement with management, we have lost much of our negotiating leverage." A filing could come soon as US Airways' situation is deteriorating fast. The company has already skipped a $110 million pension payment to conserve cash and creditors are starting to walk away. Last week, Bombardier sold 20 of the 45 regional jets originally intended for US Airways to other parties and will be deferring the rest. Another regional jet supplier, Embraer of Brazil, has suspended deliveries of planes as well. With point-to-point regional flying a part of US Airways' plan to improve efficiency losing Bombardier and Embraer's support has put the carrier in a corner -- especially since its weakened balanced sheet and credit rating forced it to enter bankruptcy court without the debtor-in-possession financing needed to fund operations. Without a lender on board to guide it through a second Chapter 11, US Airways has forged an interim agreement with the government, allowing it to fund operations. Through Oct. 15, the carrier can tap the $750 million in cash that serves as collateral for a $900 million loan guarantee from the Air Transportation Stabilization Board. As a result, the ATSB is closely monitoring US Airways, forcing it to keep weekly minimum cash balance or run the risk of defaulting on the loan and potentially forcing the airline to cease operations. According to union documents, the carrier must have $550 million in cash for the week ending Oct. 1. But in October, US Airways must stop the bleeding and begin generating cash -- no mean feat during a seasonally slow fall period. For the week ending Oct. 8, it must have $575 million in cash on hand, with $585 million the week ending Oct. 15, when the carrier's interim agreement with the ATSB expires. The carrier's management wouldn't comment on the documents in keeping with its policy on union negotiations. "What happens after Oct. 15 is, at this point, undermined and subject to further negotiations between the company and ATSB," Pollock said. "Looking at this agreement, it's clear that the ATSB is holding the reigns very tightly on this process to ensure that its cash is used only in the ways and to the extent to which it consents." Pilots -- who are not in active talks with management -- are holed up in Charlotte, N.C., consulting with advisers and discussing negotiating strategies. The two-day meeting is scheduled to end Wednesday evening, with a spokesperson for the pilots union saying the union "may have something coming out of the meeting that will redirect our negotiations with the company." Shares of the carrier, which are likely to be cancelled and rendered worthless now that the company is bankrupt, were delisted from the Nasdaq today. On the over-the-counter market, shares were thinly traded, dropping 1 cent, or 7.7%, to 60 cents.