September 14, 2005
Northwest Pilots Respond to Bankruptcy Announcement
The following are excerpts from statements NWA MEC Chairman Capt. Mark McClain made last night in communications to NWA pilots and to the media regarding the airline’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. NWA filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition on Sept. 14, 2005 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The case has been assigned to Judge Allan Gropper.
“This is a very somber day for Northwest pilots and all Northwest employees. Our pilots have made significant sacrifices over the past year in an effort to help prevent the announcement that took place today.
“The Northwest pilot group recognized the serious financial problems that loomed in April 2003. We have worked diligently during the past two and a half years, and invested $265 million, to help avoid a Chapter 11 filing.
“NWA management’s long-standing practice of treating its employees as a commodity and its overall poor employee relations was a huge stumbling block in our efforts for a joint solution to our company's financial problems.
“In its press release announcing the filing, NWA cited high fuel costs and reduction in available cash as the primary reasons for its decision to seek bankruptcy protection at this time. Yet during the past months, management did not pass on skyrocketing fuel costs to consumers, an action which could have helped to avert a tragedy like this filing.
“Despite today’s filing, the collective bargaining agreement between ALPA and NWA remains in full effect. We expect NWA to honor the spirit of the agreements it made with pilots who have invested so much in their company.
“Northwest management indicated that it plans to protect employees’ pensions. We firmly believe that Northwest employees’ pensions can be fully safeguarded by pension reform measures that allow airlines to amortize the unfunded liability of their defined benefit pension plans over a reasonable period of time.
“This bankruptcy filing begins a specific legal process and ALPA will be fully engaged in that process every step of the way.
“This restructuring will be painful for all Northwest employees. There are likely to be displacements, layoffs, and demands for substantial changes to each union contract. We will seek to contain and mitigate this pain for NWA pilots as much as possible, while working to bring about Northwest's successful emergence from Chapter 11.”
ALPA will be requesting appointment to the committee of unsecured creditors when the committee is appointed. ALPA’s general counsel, Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP, which is located in New York, will represent NWA ALPA pilots in the bankruptcy proceedings.
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ALPA Contact: Will Holman, (612) 840-7749