Release #07.010
February 19, 2007

ALPA to Fight Encroachment on Mesaba Pilots’ Job Security

Washington, D.C. – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) issued the following statement from its president, Captain John Prater, in response to recent public statements made by MAIR Holdings CEO Paul Foley indicating that in his estimation MAIR is no longer bound by a January 2004 job security agreement with ALPA that requires all MAIR operations above 19 seats be flown by Mesaba pilots.

“Our international union stands behind the Mesaba pilots in this ongoing fight. We take the Letter of Agreement between ALPA and MAIR Holdings very seriously, and I have devoted Association resources and legal expertise to fight MAIR’s bizarre lawsuit challenging that agreement. ALPA will not allow pilot jobs to be stolen—and the Mesaba pilots have the Association’s 60,000 members on their side.

“ALPA firmly believes that this letter of agreement remains in full effect and continues to be binding on MAIR. More than $120 million in profits produced by pilots and other hard working Mesaba employees was funneled to MAIR Holdings before Mesaba Airlines entered bankruptcy in October 2005. Mesaba employees were forced to take significant cuts in wages and benefits in bankruptcy to help the carrier survive this upstreaming scheme.

“Our pilots came very close to striking Mesaba during protracted contract negotiations, which culminated in January of 2004. The strike was averted, due in no small part to the attainment of the job security commitments which are recited in the MAIR letter. MAIR CEO Paul Foley committed job security to Mesaba pilots then, and we expect him to remain committed to them today.

“During Mesaba’s Bankruptcy Court proceedings, Mesaba unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the Court to allow it to nullify the letter between ALPA and MAIR. After being rebuffed by the Minnesota Bankruptcy Court, MAIR has now run to Texas to ask a federal court there to invalidate the same letter. This shameless forum shopping ought to be seen for what it is—an attempt to evade a legal obligation that was freely entered into by MAIR Holdings, and a legal obligation that MAIR has recognized it was bound by since January 2004. ALPA calls on MAIR Holdings to withdraw the lawsuit and honor its agreement with the Mesaba pilots.”

Mesaba operates as a Northwest Jet Airlink and Airlink partner under service agreements with Northwest Airlines. The airline serves 72 cities in the United States and Canada from Northwest’s and Mesaba Aviation’s three major hubs: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Memphis. Mesaba Aviation operates an advanced fleet of regional jet and jet-prop aircraft, consisting of the 34 passenger Saab SF340, and the 50-passenger Canadair Regional Jet. Mesaba filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on October 13, 2005 and continues to operate as a debtor-in-possession.

Founded in 1931, ALPA represents 60,000 pilots at 40 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at

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Kris Pierson, 612-839-0789
Pete Janhunen, 571-243-5300