Release #06.MSA8
July 14, 2006

Mesaba Pilots: The Fight is Far from Over

BLOOMINGTON, MN --- In the wake of an inexplicable bankruptcy court decision to grant Mesaba management’s motion for authority to reject the collective bargaining agreements, Mesaba pilots have unequivocally restated their commitment to either reach a consensual agreement or go on strike.

Pilot leaders have unanimously rejected management’s call to impose wages that would put its pilots at rates below virtually every other pilot in the United States , and in many cases, even below the federal poverty guidelines. Air Line Pilots Association, International leaders are making plans to file an immediate appeal.

“We said it before and will say it again; we are in this fight until the end,” declared Captain Tom Wychor , chairman of the ALPA unit at Mesaba. “If management refuses to compromise, they may be triggering the end of Mesaba. We simply will not work under the terms management seeks to impose.”

Pursuant to today’s court order, management must provide 10 business days’ notice of its intent to abrogate the current Mesaba labor contracts and impose new terms. “If management does elect to impose new terms unilaterally, the pilots of Mesaba will strike,” Wychor affirmed. “In that case, no one should plan to travel on Northwest Airlink for the remainder of the summer.”

ALPA’s national leadership has pledged all of its resources to support the Mesaba pilots in this dispute. The circumstances surrounding Mesaba’s bankruptcy are unique in that Mesaba upstreamed all of its profits in recent years to its holding company (MAIR Holdings). At the time of the bankruptcy filing, MAIR Holdings (NASDAQ: MAIR) had $120 million in cash and equivalents.

“Mesaba’s demand for wages far below industry norms is a moral outrage, particularly when considered in light of the corporate shell game that is masking Mesaba’s profits from view,” said ALPA President Captain Duane Woerth. Woerth noted that none of the airlines that have declared bankruptcy since 9/11 hid cash reserves in a holding company. “In each and every other case, ALPA has been able to reach a consensual agreement with management through good faith negotiations,” Woerth continued. “That’s the difference here: any commitment from management to bargain in good faith.”

“I speak for all of Mesaba’s pilots when I say that we are proud to have built an airline with a truly sterling record – both in terms of safety and operational performance. We want nothing more than to see our carrier survive and thrive,” said Wychor . “But not at any cost. The fact that Mesaba may face liquidation at the hands of a management team who just took more than $2 million in bonuses for themselves this June, yet does not recognize the need for its employees to provide for their families is tragic at best.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA celebrates its 75th anniversary this year representing 62,000 pilots, including 850 Mesaba pilots, at 40 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at for more information.

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SOURCE:                 Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l
ALPA CONTACT:      Jonathan Marut, (612) 889-3591, or
Anya Piazza, (703) 626-7926