March 3, 2008
For Immediate Release
ATA ALPA Pilots and Flight Engineers: “No airplanes go anywhere without us.”
CHICAGO – The pilots and flight engineers of ATA Airlines are warning that they will fight any plan to sell or fragment the airline if it fails to protect the job security of the cockpit crewmember group.
In a financial brief (Form S-1) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 9, Global Aero Logistics, Inc. of Peachtree City, Ga. announced that it is considering the sale of assets, including ATA’s scheduled service passenger operation that performs codeshare flying for Southwest Airlines.
This announcement from ATA’s parent company came as a shock to ATA’s 600 cockpit crewmembers, a dedicated group of professionals who have sacrificed greatly in the form of repeated labor concessions to keep the airline flying since its bankruptcy filing in October 2004.
“In light of our sacrifices, we are disgusted to learn of the possibility of cannibalizing our once-proud airline by a faceless Wall Street holding company,” stated Captain Steve Staples, the union chairman of the division of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) that represents the ATA pilots.
“We will not remain silent while our management attempts to fragment a viable air carrier without consideration for the pilots who helped build it. We resolve that, if our airplanes and routes go to another entity, the continued careers of our pilots stand as an essential condition of any such transaction,” Staples said.
Before and during bankruptcy, the ATA pilots provided givebacks to the company worth roughly $140 million in an effort to save their airline and protect their careers, as well as the jobs of thousands of other employees. ATA’s pilots have sacrificed more to improve the airline’s financial health than any other single entity, including its new owners. They have flown under a series of concessionary agreements since mid-2004.
ATA and Global Aero Logistics are owned in majority by MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners, a New York-based hedge fund. In August MatlinPatterson, together with JPMorgan, purchased World Air Holdings, the holding company for World Airways and North American Airlines.
“ALPA would like to remind any potential buyers that our collective bargaining agreement with ATA requires that any substantial transfer of our aircraft must be accompanied with a transfer of cockpit crewmembers’ jobs in seniority, and we are prepared to fight to defend that contractual language,” Staples said.
“It’s also likely that any such transaction could trigger new provisions in the Railway Labor Act regarding crewmember seniority rights. To put it bluntly: Any sale of any portion of our airline will be much less expensive and will go much more smoothly for the purchaser if we are brought on board.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots’ union, representing 61,000 pilots at 43 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA Website at http://www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACT: Capt. Seth Cooperman, (312) 399-3977