November 6, 2007
ATA Airlines Cockpit Crewmembers Kick Off Contract Negotiations
INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in almost six years, union pilots and flight engineers at ATA Airlines are in negotiations for a new contract. Talks between ATA and the Air Line Pilots Association, Intl. opened this afternoon in Indianapolis.
ATA’s almost 600 cockpit crewmembers are seeking significant improvements in compensation, work rules and job protections in recognition of their help in keeping the airline afloat when it was in bankruptcy, according to Capt. Steve Staples, chairman of ALPA’s ATA Master Executive Council.
“Our crews will have sacrificed more than $140 million in pay and other benefits from 2004 through the end of 2008, and now it’s time to start taking it back,” Staples said. “The concession window is officially closed.”
The first major issue on the table will be putting job protections in place to ensure that ATA flying is performed by ATA crewmembers and not outsourced to other airlines. This is especially important because ATA’s holding company, Global Aero Logistics, recently acquired two former competitors: World Airways and North American Airlines.
Staples said Global’s $315 million purchase of World and North American earlier this year proves it has the financial backing to pay market rates to ATA crewmembers.
"If their business plan doesn't include the money to pay us what we deserve, then they need to get a new business plan," he said.
Before the 2004 bankruptcy, ATA was the nation’s 10th-largest network airline. It now is a codeshare partner with Southwest Airlines and one of the nation’s largest charter carriers, but Staples said the pilot contract is out of step with ATA’s new reality.
“Our next contract must reflect the transformation of ATA’s business model. We still fly under work rules designed for schedules within the continental United States when the bulk of our operations are now to Europe, the Pacific and the Middle East,” he said. “If we have become an international carrier, we deserve a level of compensation consistent with international operations.”
Unlike other labor agreements, airline contracts do not expire but rather become amendable, with existing contract language remaining in place until a new agreement is in place. ATA’s 2002 contract was supposed to become amendable in 2006 but was extended an additional two years due to bankruptcy restructuring. ALPA’s contract with ATA becomes amendable on Oct. 1, 2008.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 60,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.
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ALPA CONTACTS: Capt. Seth Cooperman, 312-399-3977
First Officer Rob Ventura, 315-545-5800
Rusty Ayers, 773-284-4910