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News Release

Release # 03.NWA3
October 20, 2003

NWA Pilot Leaders Condemn NWA Management’s Behavior Towards Mesaba Pilots

MINNEAPOLIS --- Leaders of the Northwest Pilots unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) met last week in Memphis and expressed their displeasure with management’s recent actions involving Mesaba pilots.

"It appears NWA management is seeking to recover from its own poor decision to operate the Avro RJ-85 aircraft by sacrificing Mesaba pilots," Capt. Mark McClain, NWA Master Executive Council (MEC) Chairman said. "Furthermore, NWA management is forcing job reductions at Mesaba even as it grows Pinnacle, another NWA Airlink carrier. That they are doing this during Mesaba pilot contract negotiations is hardly a coincidence."

Northwest management recently said it may terminate the service agreement it has with Mesaba to fly regional Northwest routes with the 69-passenger Avro RJ-85 jets and would seek bids from other carriers interested in flying passengers now served by the Mesaba Avros if the contract is terminated.

"It appears NWA management is trying to pit airlines’ labor groups against each other in a bidding war for available flying," McClain said. "First one to the bottom gets to keep their jobs."

New first officers at Mesaba Airlines earn less than $17,000 in their first year and only $24,000 after three years. Mesaba Holdings’ profits soared to $31 million after pilots took concessions in 1996, and the company has remained profitable in the current environment.

Mesaba pilots and management have been in contract talks for more than two years and have been in federal mediation for the past year. In June of this year ALPA filed a federal lawsuit against Mesaba Airlines alleging its management engaged in bad-faith bargaining tactics during the protracted talks. Little progress has been made towards an agreement on a new contract.

"Northwest pilots support Mesaba pilots and will help resist any attempts by NWA management to whipsaw pilot groups in the Northwest family," McClain said.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s oldest and largest pilot union, representing more than 66,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the United States and Canada, including 6,300 Northwest Airlines pilots. Visit the ALPA Web site at


ALPA CONTACT: Will Holman (612) 840-7749