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News Release

Release #03.088
December 10, 2003

Strike Deadline Set for Northwest Airlink Pilots

MINNEAPOLIS --- The pilots of Mesaba Airlines have announced that as of 12:01 a.m. EST on Jan. 10, 2004, they will be legally entitled to strike if they have not agreed to new contract terms.

The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) received notification this morning that "…all practical methods provided in the Railway Labor Act for our adjusting the dispute have been exhausted without effecting a settlement" by the National Mediation Board (NMB). This starts a 30-day cooling off period after which either side is free to take economic self-help action. Mesaba operates as a Northwest Airlink partner, providing over 600 daily flights for Northwest Airlines.

Mesaba and its pilots have been at odds over job security, compensation, retirement and work rules since June 2001 when contract talks commenced. After the contract became amendable in 2002, both parties filed for federal mediation to aid the process. Negotiations came to an impasse last week, causing the NMB to offer binding arbitration to resolve the remaining open issues. ALPA declined the offer, triggering the strike deadline.

"Our pilots have been waiting to be recognized for their contributions to our airline since 1996. Unfortunately, a deadline appears to be necessary to bring this process to a close," stated ALPA spokesman and Mesaba pilot Kris Pierson. "We believe it is in both parties best interest to work together to resolve our differences."

About half of Mesaba’s pilots make less than $32,000 per year, and starting salaries are less than $17,000. Concessions in pay rates and a contract extension in 1996 have saved Mesaba Airlines $12 million to date, and facilitated the introduction of the AVRO RJ85 regional jet at Mesaba.

Mesaba serves 114 cities in 30 states and Canada from Northwest's three major hubs: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Memphis. Mesaba employs 844 professional airline pilots who operate an advanced fleet of 103 regional jet and jet-prop aircraft.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing 66,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit ALPA’s Web site at

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ALPA CONTACT: Kris Pierson (612) 839-0789