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office at (703) 481-4440.
January 15, 2002
America West Pilots Begin Fund to Pay Furloughed Pilots’ COBRA Premiums
PHOENIX — The pilots of America West Airlines, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), this month will begin assessing members to assist furloughed pilots in paying premiums to continue health insurance coverage under COBRA.
The ALPA-represented America West pilots authorized the America West Pilots’ Family Assistance Fund by a vote conducted in December. Pilots who are on active duty will make monthly payments to the fund that will then reimburse furloughed pilots for their COBRA premiums.
"Our members should be commended for coming through during this downturn and helping their fellow pilots caught in the furlough," said Eric Edwards, vice chairman of the America West ALPA unit. "While we prefer to see these 179 pilots back flying with us, this assistance will help our furloughed pilots meet a financial burden to maintain health insurance coverage until they join us back on the flight line."
Furloughed pilots will be eligible for reimbursement following the cessation on Feb. 15 of their company-paid insurance benefits. The monthly COBRA premium for a pilot and family can exceed $900 per month in some cases, which is hardly covered by current Arizona unemployment benefits of $205 per week, one of the lowest benefit levels in the country.
The fund will remain active for a maximum of 12 months or until all 179 furloughed pilots are called back to work, whichever occurs first.
Including the 1,800 America West pilots, ALPA represents 66,000 pilots at 46 airlines in the United States and Canada. Its Web site is http://www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contact: Scott Sherrin, (602) 306-4100
ALPA is the world's largest and oldest pilots union. Representing roughly 66,000 pilots flying for 46 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, ALPA is celebrating 70 years of advancing the cause of air safety and upholding the airline piloting profession.
ALPA Contact: Ron Lovas, 703-481-4440