PCL Airlines Pilots Respond to Bankruptcy Judge’s Ruling

The pilot leadership of Pinnacle Airlines, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, received word last Thursday that Judge Robert Gerber, United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York, issued a ruling that disallows Pinnacle Airlines management’s motion to reject the pilot contract. The following is a statement from PCL MEC chairman Capt. Tom Wychor regarding the court’s decision.

“This ruling means that our pilots will continue to work under a negotiated contract rather than immediately facing unilaterally imposed terms of employment, and that is important. There’s no real victory in this outcome, because our only future as Pinnacle pilots will come with a consensual deal that addresses Pinnacle’s significant financial hurdles while also recognizing our pilots’ needs. ALPA is committed to remaining at the bargaining table until we are able to reach a tentative agreement with management. We want to accomplish that goal as expeditiously as possible.

“We recognize the need for real cost savings, but we put the future of our carrier at risk when we consider terms that will not allow Pinnacle to attract and retain qualified pilots in the very near term.”

“A pilot-ratified contract is the only viable outcome. We need to negotiate a bankruptcy agreement that preserves jobs worth having while creating an environment in which the company can thrive. Going forward, we also need to ensure that we share in any unforeseen gains Pinnacle makes as a result of our restructured agreement. The pilots who sacrifice to allow Pinnacle the ability to thrive will share in the benefit of that success.”

Pinnacle Airlines, which operates a fleet of nearly 200 aircraft for Delta, filed for bankruptcy on April 1, 2012. The Bankruptcy Court held a hearing on Pinnacle’s motion to reject the pilot collective bargaining agreement in mid-October. The parties have engaged in continuous negotiations following the close of the hearing.

While significant progress has been made, the parties remain apart in certain key areas, including pay for Pinnacle’s senior first officers and senior captains.